Problem Tree – Retrospective

Problem Tree
Problem Tree

The Problem Tree retrospective is a unique and powerful method for evaluating and improving a team’s performance. Inspired by the concepts of exploration and adventure, this approach encourages team members to step out of their comfort zone and explore new horizons to solve problems and stimulate innovation.

Understanding the Problem Tree

The Problem Tree is a retrospective technique rooted in systemic thinking. It aims to identify problems within the team by tracing them back to their root causes, much like the roots of a tree nourish its trunk and branches.

This method differs from more traditional retrospective approaches by encouraging a deep exploration of problems rather than a simple superficial discussion.

This approach shares similar ideas with the 5 Whys technique (5Y’s).

The Steps of the Problem Tree Retrospective

  • Preparation for Exploration: To begin a Problem Tree retrospective, it’s essential to create an environment conducive to openness and reflection. The team and the facilitator must ensure that all members feel comfortable sharing their opinions and observations.
  • Problem Identification (Roots): Team members are invited to identify the problems encountered during the period under review. It’s crucial to encourage deep reflection to determine the underlying causes of these problems.
  • Analysis of Root Causes (Trunk): Once the problems are identified, the team explores the root causes behind them. This involves understanding the factors that contributed to the emergence of these problems.
  • Search for Solutions (Branches): After understanding the root causes, the team focuses on finding potential solutions. Each identified problem generates branches of ideas to address these issues.
  • Selection and Action Plan: Finally, the team selects the most promising solutions and develops an action plan to implement them. Responsibilities are assigned, and follow-up is planned to measure progress.

Benefits of the Problem Tree Retrospective

The Problem Tree retrospective offers several significant advantages for teams:

  • In-Depth Analysis: It allows for a deep exploration of problems, going beyond symptoms to identify the underlying causes.
  • Identification of Root Causes: This method helps avoid treating only the symptoms of problems by focusing on the root causes.
  • Creativity: Searching for solutions in the form of branches encourages creativity within the team.
  • Engagement: Team members often feel more engaged in problem-solving because they contributed to the identification and search for solutions.


The Problem Tree retrospective is a powerful method for evaluating and improving a team’s performance. By following this approach, teams can not only solve problems more effectively but also enhance their understanding of internal dynamics and stimulate innovation.

Whether you’re looking to step out of your comfort zone, discover new perspectives, or solve complex problems, this adventurous approach can enrich your retrospectives and contribute to your team’s success. Don’t hesitate to explore this unique method and embrace the adventure of continuous improvement.

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About Judicaël Paquet 368 Articles
Judicaël Paquet (agile coach and senior devops) My Engagements in France and Switzerland: - Crafting Agile Transformation Strategies - Tailored Agile Training Programs - Raising Awareness and Coaching for Managers - Assessing Agile Maturity and Situational Analysis - Agile Coaching for Teams, Organizations, Product Owners, Scrum Masters, and Agile Coaches Areas of Expertise: Scrum, Kanban, Management 3.0, Scalability, Lean Startup, Agile Methodology.

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