E Co. bites: How can problem and objective trees be used to improve your project idea?

31 July 2019, Category: All insights, E Co. bites, Tags: , , , , ,

Watch our bite-sized and easily digestible video series, sharing our insights and experiences of designing low-carbon, climate-resilient development projects, across the globe. We discuss the who, where, what, why and hows behind successfully obtaining funding from major donors, including the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and Global Environment Facility (GEF).


Speaker: Morna Isaac

Question: How can problem and objective trees be used to improve your project idea?

The first step in developing a project is coming up with an idea. The question is how to get from this rough idea to a good project design that will solve a problem in such a way that the results of the project will be long lasting.

One tool that we can use to analyse a problem thoroughly is the problem tree. This is a well known concept, that has been used for many years as one of the first steps of project design, to analyse the causes and effects of a problem.

It can be combined with objective tree analysis to start getting a grip on the kind of objectives that your project should have in order to solve the problem. If you search on the internet for problem trees and objective trees you’ll get lots of hits: tutorials and videos and articles explaining what problem trees and solution trees are and how to make them.

However, from experience working with people to develop problem trees, I can say that making a good one is surprisingly hard. We all have the tendency to think in established patterns. Why do people in my country not install solar panels on their roofs?

Well, that must be because solar panels cost money. We need to make it easier for people to get loans for buying solar panels. But then, if you dig a little deeper, you find out that actually, the problems are a lot more complicated. Maybe there is a law saying that a roof has to look a certain way, and to put in solar panels you have to get special permission that is hard to get.

So in your project, you will have to solve this barrier too. If you do your problem analysis well, you will find out the real barriers that are preventing the problem from being solved.

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