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How to Analyze Root Cause Using Mind Maps

The Five Why's is a famous and useful tool for conducting a root cause analysis in problem solving. I've applied the idea of asking why five (more or less) times to get at the root cause and applied it to mind mapping. Since many problems have more than one cause, applying the process to a mind map keeps the door open for identifying many possible causes. While any one may appear to be the root cause, it is only in comparing all of them that you can clearly see the best opportunity. Here's the process that I use:


Start your mind map by writing your problem in the center. (In the example above, Stairway Accidents is the problem.)Radiat out reasons why there is a problem. What are the causes? What causes that cause? ("what causes" is as useful as "why" and without the emotional turmoil.)For each cause, ask why it's true or what causes it. Why that cause? What causes that - and radiate out your answers.Some "what causes that" may produce more…
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Build, Not Break

It's risky to ascribe motives to a problem. A problem is a situation, not an intention. And yet, we often do, don't we? We think of a problem with a personality out to do us harm. We can even think that a problem is out to break us, to wear us down until we don't matter. That is not true. The problem - the situation - does not care. When we pause to identify the goal that we want, instead of focusing on the problem, we can identify ways to achieve that goal and build our way out of trouble and into success.

A problem does not need to break you.

Problems are meant to build you, not break you.

-- doug smith



Go Beyond Analysis

Do you enjoy analyzing a problem? I can analyze all day long. It is useful, and it's even satisfying. But it does not solve the problem. Problems are persistent and do not care about your analysis. To fix a problem, we've got to do something.

Your problem will probably survive analysis. Do more.

-- doug smith

Leadership Call to Action: Think about a problem that you have been analyzing recently. If you have not already done so, write down all the possible causes of that problem.
What is your next step beyond analysis? What part of that step can you do this week?





Create Agreements First

The more we disagree on a problem the more our behaviors begin to resemble each other's. Why not take this as an invitation to start creating agreements?

-- doug smith



What if Your Solution Is a Problem?

It's discomforting to realize when our solution is someone else's problem - but their problem remains our problem until our solutions agree.

-- doug smith



Conceive and Then Believe

Conceiving a problem solution is about half as critical as convincing ourselves that the solution will work.

Until we are convinced, how will the solution ever work?

How do we become convinced? By carefully conceiving of the best possible solution.

Centered problem solvers take the time to get beyond the surface problem to the heart of the goal.

-- doug smith



Ending Destruction

How do we end a destructive player's destruction without destroying the play is the key problem embedded in diplomacy, crime, and war.

Impossible to solve? Then we manage. Impossible to manage? Then it must be solved.

-- doug smith