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Causal Flow Chart

Visualize your cause and effect relationships.

Causal Flow Charts establish a visual framework for analyzing cause and effect relationships. It will enable you to view cause and effect relationships as a whole integrated system and to discover the linkages between driving forces.

To create a Causal Flow Chart:

Step 1:  Identify the factors that are the major driving forces. You can find these variables in Factors, Forces, and Cross Impact Matrix.

Step 2:  Create a two column cause and effect table. In the left-hand column, list the causal factors. In the right-hand column, write down the affected factors. Draw an arrow between them.

Step 3:  Determine if the cause and effect relationships are “direct” or “inverse”. In a direct relationship, the affect factor increases as the causal factor increases. In an inverse relationship, the affected factor decreases as the casual factor increases.

Step 4:  Use a Flow Chart to diagram the factors and their linkages. Show the factors sequentially from start to finish. Identify events, actions, and decisions. Use symbols for factors and label them. Use arrows to connect the linkages between factors.

Step 5:  Analyze the behavior of the relationships:

  • What are the major driving forces? In-other-words, which factors are most influential.
  • Look for factors that are linked in a circular, continuous interaction. These are called “feedback loops”. Are these loops stable or unstable? Sustainable or unsustainable?
  • Determine if the problem could be solved by modifying or eliminating any of the factors.
  • See if you can introduce new factors to resolve issues.


Publications icon

The Basics of Process Mapping, Richard Damelio, Florence, KY: Productivity Press, 2006.

The Thinker's Toolkit: 14 Powerful Techniques for Problem Solving, Morgan D. Jones, New York: Three Rivers Press, 1995.