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Getting to the bottom of the causes

Now that all preparations have been made to ensure sound collaboration, let’s get started together: as far as this handbook is concerned, that means a switch to a more collaborative form of address, namely “we”.

In times of scarce resources and growing demands, it’s tempting to draw conclusions and think about solutions as soon as a problem turns up. Full of vigor and wanting to get things done right away, we often forget the most important thing: genuinely understanding the problem.

This is because what we see at first is often only a symptom of a deeper problem. If we only treat the symptoms without addressing the underlying challenge, whatever success we find won't be sustainable. Thus, we need to take a step back and identify the causes of the problem more precisely. In order to do this, we will illuminate the causes from various perspectives, incorporate external sources of knowledge and experience, and analyze dependencies within the system, including all the relevant actors and stakeholders.

The basis for any exploratory, collaborative work is a positive view of people in which a range of different perspectives are recognized as being valuable..

Phase objective and stages

In the exploration phase, we will develop a comprehensive understanding of the problem and explore the stakeholder landscape as it relates to the problem. We will gather all the insights and sources gained from our inquiry into the topic and develop assumptions for further analysis. The goal of this phase is to delineate the exact scope of the analysis and capture this in a Situation Report.


Stage 1

Refine how the problem is understood

Explore causes and effects.

Stage 2

Connect systems and actors

Identify actors and stakeholders, determine dependencies.

Stage 3

Detect blind spots

Investigate internal and external knowledge.

Stage 4

Question assumptions

Visualize suppositions.

Stage 5

Set the exploration focus

Summarize insights.