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Analysing problems

As a first step to tackle a challenge, it is important to make the right diagnosis by examining the local context. The tools below will help you:

  • to have a clear problem statement
  • to better understand the problem itself and have a proper analysis of the situation
  • to create a shared vision on how to tackle the problem

Before diving into this section, we recommend you have a look at this session of the URBACT e-University by Christophe Gouache, designer and URBACT expert, where he compared the problem analysis to a police investigation and examined methods to obtain the right diagnosis and develop adequate and integrated solutions, in a collaborative way.


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The 4Ws Tool is a problem framing method that helps describing and interpreting a problem to arrive at a problem statement.

5 Whys

The 5 Whys Technique is an iterative interrogative problem framing/solving method used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem.

Evidence analysis & improvement table

The Evidence Analysis & Improvement Table aims to identify, gather and analyse sources of relevant information to get a proper and complete overview of the issue.

Problem tree

The Problem Tree is a graphical representation of an existing problem, its causes and effects which aims to get a clear and shared understanding of the issue.

Newspaper of Tomorrow

The Newspaper of Tomorrow tool gives you the opportunity to project into the future to create a shared vision on a certain topic.