Section 3: Causal analysis

Section 3: Causal analysis

“Introduction … Causal diagram”
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  • Step 3: Causal analysis > Causal diagram > Video causal diagram

Step 3: Causal analysis > Causal diagram > Video causal diagram

  • As analysts, consultants or as a manager, you can use the technique of causal diagramming to clearly show the relations between the different factors.
  • Of course, you then need a much more complete and elaborate diagram, as there are many more important factors to include in this complex problem.
  • So start by writing down a list of factors that influence the criteria.
  • Do not forget to add practical units for each factor.
  • You want to be able to quantify the value each factor as much as you can.
  • If you find out that a factor does not have a unit, operationalize that factor further in sub-factors.
  • Things like ‘the weather’ can’t have a unit it might be an important factor.
  • Can you think of sub-factors that can represent ‘happiness’ and can be measured? The next step is to start linking the factors that influence each other.
  • What factors influences what other factors? Label each arrow by adding a plus or minus sign to define the relation between factors.
  • The diagram reads like this: if factor E increases in value factor B also increases in value.
  • If Factor B increases in value, then Factor A will decrease in value.
  • The relations between the factors are called causal relations.
  • A change in one factor will influence the value of another factor.
  • If you have completed the factors in the causal diagram, have a look at your list of alternatives the one you have identified so far.
  • All these means should somehow influence at least one of the factors in this causal diagram.
  • That means that anything influencing a factor in the causal diagram, and thus influencing the criteria via the causal relations, can be an alternative.
  • When a causal path starts in some factor A and eventually joins this same factor A again, there is a continuous loop influencing all factors in that loop over time.
  • One of the projects, one of the research projects we did in which we used causal diagrams and system dynamics was for a project for the Dutch council of public health and health care.
  • During the first workshop we identified factors that were of importance to the adoption of innovations and we related these factors to each other making an initial rough causal diagram.
  • In the second workshop we presented the diagram and we asked the stakeholders to identify different measures that would influence the factors in the causal diagram in order to improve the adoption of innovations.
  • The question to ask now is: What factors influence these criteria? In our example, the inside noise level influences the number of satisfied guests, and the outside noise level.
  • When you ask: What other factors influence this factor? You will find a few more factors to add to your causal diagram.
  • To complete the diagram, you draw the causal relations between the factors.
  • Hello everyone! It is time again to start working on your case and see if you understand and can use the technique of causal diagramming.
  • After that identify approximately 15 factors for the problem situation you are analyzing.
  • If you have less factors, your diagram may become too obvious.
  • Part of your list of factors are the criteria you identified already earlier.
  • Now start from your criteria and relate your list of factors to them.
  • A plus next to the arrow head, means that if the factor the arrow comes from increases, the factor the arrow points to also increases.
  • If the factor the arrow comes from increases the factor the arrow points to decreases.
  • You know, the ones they have so much discussion about? Now, as a first test of these alternatives, try to link them to factors in your causal diagram.
  • Linking alternatives to factors is to both test the causal diagram and the list of alternatives.
  • Factors you chose should be measurable in one clear way.
  • Take for instance factors like ‘motivation’ or ‘the weather’.
  • What happens if ‘the weather’ increases? It is impossible to define unambiguous relations with other factors.
  • The most interesting in the system you study are the criteria, these are what the actors care about! So, you always start causal diagram with the criteria and then define the relations with other factors.
  • Lots of people put down the factors and draw arrows between them, but they don’t put a plus or minus sign.
  • Most of the time this is due to badly formulated factors.
  • When the factor is not completely clear, it is impossible to define a causal relation.
  • Good luck designing and drawing your causal diagram and see in the next video! “.

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