What are the most efficient ways to make issue trees?

Anonymous A

I have been told that my notes should be clear and nice-looking since interviewers might take a look at it. That aside, making a good issue tree is key to having a nice approach during the interview, I believe. As such, what are your best practices for making issue trees?

replied on August 28, 2016

Hi there,

You are correct regarging the fact that your notes shoud be clear and neat, so that interviewers can follow your thought process easily and that issue trees are key to having a sound, structured approach to solve a case.

A good way to think of issue trees is to consider them as hypothesis testing structures. After all, the main point of using issue trees (aside from organizing your ideas) is to evaluate whether the hypothesis at hand is true or false. Issue tree help in such evaluation by breaking down the problem into its elementary / fundamental parts. Please refer to the example below:

Situation: Client is losing profitability Hypothesis: Client can improve its profitability (which composes of Revenues - fundamental part #1 - and Costs - fundamental part #2)

  • Condition #1: Client can increase its protability by increasing its revenues
  • Condition #2: Cient can increase its profitability by decreasing its costs

Having that conceptual understanding of issue trees in mind, it's good to have a simple roadmap to building good issue trees:

  1. You have to have a perfect, clear understanding of the problem being asked before you start
  2. With a clear understanding of the problem, you have to think of a reasonable hypothesis to test
  3. With a reasonable hypothesis at hand, try thinking of what conditions must be met in order for it to be true; Also, try thinking of what sub-conditions must be met in order for each of your main conditions to be true
  4. Guarantee that the conditions to test your hypothesis are MECE when you put them together

This little tweak in the understanding what issue trees are for and that simple roadmap typically helps candidates improve their issue trees builing abilities. I hope it helps yours.

Best regards,


Anonymous B replied on September 08, 2016

Thank you Paulo! Your advice did help indeed. Especially in the first week. But the more you practice making issue trees, the more you start to internalise the rules you are referring to further above. Now I do carry out your instructions without even noticing that.^^

Anonymous A replied on August 30, 2016

Hi there, good question. @Paulo: According to your experience,do you have a feeling for what problems are very popular among interviewers of which you need to have a clear understanding about?

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