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Multiplecausediagrams

Formatforamultiplecausediagram
Purpose
Thistypeofdiagramisusedtoexplorewhyagiveneventhappenedorwhyacertainclass
ofeventstendstooccur.Itisnotintendedtopredictbehaviour,butmaybeusedto
developalistoffactorstobearinmindwhenconsideringcomparablecircumstancesinthe
future.Itisalsousefulforfindingoutwhysomethingwentwrongorkeepsrecurring,e.g.
throughacausalloop,sothatstepscanbetakentopreventitsrecurrence.Itcanbe
derivedfromaninfluencediagramordevelopedanew.
Elements:
systemboundary(optional)
phrases
arrows(whichmayoccasionallybelabelled)
title.
Conventions
1. Inclusionofasystemboundaryisoptionalbutrecommended.
2. Thephrases(aaa,bbb,ccc,ddd,etc.)relatetoastateoranevente.g.flatbatteryor
batterygoesflat.But,asthediagramisdeveloped,itispreferabletodescribethesefactorsin
termsofavariable(somethingthathasavaluethatcangoupordown)e.g.amountof
chargeinbattery.
3. Arrowsindicatethecausalconnectionsbetweenthephrases,andarereadasphraseattailof
arrowcausesphraseatheadofarrow,e.g.leavinglightsoncausesflatbattery.

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4. Inamoredevelopeddiagram,withvariablesratherthanstates,thearrowisbetterreadas
affectse.g.lengthoftimelightsareleftonaffectsamountofchargeinbattery.
5. Ingeneralarrowsarenotlabelled.However,itisacceptabletodosoifyouwishtoadd
informationaboutthetypeofcausalconnectione.g.lengthoftimelightsareleftonreduces
amountofchargeinbattery(toemphasizethatanincreaseononeleadstoadecreasein
theother).Orleavinglightsoncontributestoflatbattery(toemphasizethatthisis
unlikelytobetheonlycause).
6. Thechainofcausalconnectionsmaybeentirelysequential,oritmayincludeloops.
7. Atitledefiningthesystemofinterestisessential.
Guidelines
1. Inconstructingsuchadiagramyounormallybeginatthefactor/eventtobeexplainedandwork
backwards.Adiagramshouldincludemorethanonesuchendfactoronlyifcontributoryfactors
wererelated,andexplainingbotheventsisimportant.
2. Itisnotnecessarytoputblobsaroundphrases,althoughifitimprovesclarityyoucan.Boxes,
withtheiractivitysequencediagramimplications,arebestavoided.
3. Ithelpsincheckingadrafttoensurethateachindividualrelationshipmakessense.Ifthe
meaningisnotobviousthenbemorespecificorinsertanynecessaryintermediatecauses.
4. Takecarenottocombinetwofactorsintoonee.g.batteryisflatandcarwontstart.This
canpreventyouridentifyingdifferencesintheircausesorconsequences,andthereforepotential
pointsofintervention.
5. Thistypeofdiagramdoesnotdistinguishbetweennecessaryand/orsufficientcauses(for
example,inthefigureabove,EventaaaandEventbbbmaybothbenecessaryifEventcccisto
occuroreithermaybesufficienttocauseEventccc).Ifthedistinctionisimportantforyour
purposeyouwillneedtoannotateyourdiagramtoindicatethis.
6. Itisnotessentialtoindicateasystemboundaryonamultiplecausediagram,particularlyifit
hasbeendevelopedfromaninfluencediagramthatalreadyhasone.Drawingsuchadiagram
maywell,however,developyourideasaboutwheretodrawaboundaryandsoidentifya
systemofinterest.
7. Itisimportanttorememberthatthisdiagramtype,whilesuperficiallyresemblinganinfluence
diagram,isdifferentinthatthewordsateitherendofanarrowrepresenteventsthatmay
happenorvaluesthatmaychange.Inaninfluencediagramthesewordsrepresentcomponents
ofasysteme.g.peopleorsubsystems.

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