What is Causal Mapping?

Cause (or concept) mapping is a proven technique for acquiring and managing the detailed, sometimes delicate, information that often surrounds complex situations.

With this method, emphasis is placed on issue definition and structuring, which acts as an aid to problem solving, idea generation and strategy development.  This well known and trusted technique captures information provided by individuals or groups by linking statements using arrows that represent a cause-and-effect relationship.

Diagram showing cause-effect relationshipExample

The map shown below is an example of a cause map.  This is a simple map created for illustration purposes and is based on a fictitious gym where the focus of the particular map is on improving profitability.  As you can see,  the statements have been colour coded in order to help identify the different components.  Here green are actions or activities, blue are outcomes, black are objective and goals.  If you review the map you will see how easy it is to understand the make up of this particular strategic map (click on the image to see it in a larger size).


There are many advantages to using Cognitive & Cause Mapping, including:

  • Structures thinking through capturing chains of argumentation
  • Presents information in a graphical rather than a linear format which allows it to be shared more easily
  • Allows a more objective stance to be taken by having people focus on creating and structuring information
  • Enables complex information such as wisdom, knowledge and experience to be captured
  • Helps manage complexity by allowing the information that has been captured to be analysed and structured into a clear strategy model.
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