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Mapping the Problem

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To create a map of key elements of the dispute. That is easy to understand.

Solutions summary

Many facilitators Create a map of the dispute to allow them to see the needs and interests of the parties quickly. It also allows you to see who influential third parties might be (see Tool 4.2). From the first contact you have with either party (see Tool 1.3), you can start mapping the dispute.  Basic mapping
  • The parties in the dispute (including husbands/spouses or other people in the background)
  • Basic problem and three or more major issues: land, compensation, violence that occurred etc.
  • At least two or three needs, wishes and fears (interests) of all parties (see Tool 2.4)
  • A list of possible solutions (see Tool 2.5). 
  • A list of what has been agreed.
  • A list of what still has to be decided.
More extensive mapping
  • Timeline: what were the three or more most important things that happened? Who? When? What? Where? Why? When? How?
  • Relationships between parties (marriage, landlord/tenant, business). 
  • Power relations: What is position of each party when no solution is reached? What is each party afraid of that another party will do (if this can safely be shared)?
  • Influential third parties who are or have become involved (see Tool 4.2).
  • Laws and sharing rules that can be helpful to decide on the issues (see Tool 3.2).
How to map?
  • Visible for the parties. So they can see everything that is relevant and what they have said is taken into account.
  • On paper, whiteboard, black board. Or even online.
  • Using symbols.
  • Pictures for different types of interests, solutions.  
Here you can find 1) an example map and 2) a list of questions that can be helpful. Asking about the background of the problem Asking about interests Asking about relationships Asking about expectations Also using the intake form (2a) can be helpful.

Local solution: Conference comments

Possible map (group session):

  1. Put photo of people on map (some discussion, abstract symbol might be better).
  2. Conflict issues 
  3. Timeframe event 1, 2, ...What? Why? When? Where? Who? + How?
  4. Non-judgmental: instead of fraud, use problem or lack of trust
  5. Relationships: father/son, seller/buyer, landlord/tenant (what to do with power differences, that can be implied in these descriptions?)
  6. Interests: A wants to use land for .. B. is angry, because he has paid for .. and cannot use it for ....
  7. Possible solutions

Another tool can be a more abstract dispute map (KBH developed one) with:

  1. symbols for parties
  2. arrows for relationships
  3. events in the relationships close to the arrows with dates
  4. object of conflict in the middle
logo van partner 

Added by: TISCO

Local solution: Creating a map of the conflict

How to map the problem during the intake? The purpose of this tool is to give a good structure to establish the problem and the context in which it exists. This tool provides ways of making sure that the important information is gathered during the first meeting. What to do:

  1. Write down the chronological order of the case
  2. Write down in detail :
    1. Parties who are disputing
    2. What is being disputed
    3. What each party expects
    4. Steps to reach solution that the party has ever taken
    5. Ask the parties to prepare their proofs and witnesses to support their arguments
    6. Study and search any information about law aspect related to the case being disputed

Example Once Pak Kliman came to see mediator asking for help to solve his land dispute. Kliman bought a piece of land from Rusman 1987’s. The land is 400 meter squares. Kliman rented it to be cultivated by his neighbour, Parjo. Parjo has rented it for 3 years, since 2004. The day before, there came a man whose name is Sugi to see Kliman and said that the land belonged to him. Sugi said that he bought the land from Wayan, Rusman’s brother. The land is 1000 meter squares including the 400 meter square which is being cultivated by Parjo. Kliman came to see Rusman and asked the truth about the land’s status. After being asked, Kliman knew that the land is the inheritence from Rusman and Wawan (Mbah Joko)’s parents, which had been divided since 1980. But, when that inheritence of land was divided, the legal status of the land in the written paper was not changed, which in fact, was still in the name of Mbah Joko. Wawan, who kept the legal paper of the land with him, sold it to Sugi 3 months ago (around April 2008). Sugi had the legal status of land transaction with him. So, how is this case solved? Chronology of the Case

No.Date/Month/YearWho Did WhatProofi/Legal Paper/Written Agreement
1.1980Mbak Joko inherited a piece of land of 600m2 to  Wawan and 400 m2  to RusmanStatus of the land’s name on the paper has not been changed. It is still in the name of Mbah Joko. There is existing inheritence proof (letter/legal paper)
2.1987Rusman sold that 400 m2 to KlimanKliman kept the transaction receipt
3.2004Kliman rented the land to ParjoThere was no renting agreement letter
4.April 2008Wawan  sold the 1000 m2 land to Sugi. The land includes the land which his brother, Rusman was supposed to have as it was inherited from Mbah JokoThere is transaction receipt between Wawan and Sugi

Example Map

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Added by: KBH

Evidence from practice

Conference Comments

Evidence from literature

The Conflict Resolution Network from Australia have a training guide on mapping which can be downloaded here. This focuses on identifying the problem and the different needs and interests of each of the parties. 

Conflict Resolution Network. CR Trainers Manual: 12 Skills, 2nd Edition, 2008

Joyce Hocker and William Wilmot also give guidance on mapping conflicts as a way of clarifying disputes. They focus primarily on relationships between the parties, particularly power relationships.

 Interpersonal Conflict, Joyce Hocker and William Wilmot, 2nd ed. rev., (Dubuque, Iowa: Wm. C. Brown Publishers, 1985)

Otomar Bartos and Paul Wehr describes a more written version of conflict mapping, which focuses on establishing the interests and parties involved, where the dynamics are written as opposed to visualised in a drawn map.

Bartos, O., & Wehr, P. (2002). Using Conflict Theory. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge:

Using decision trees and maps can promote parties to have perspective on the dispute, and allow them to identify good courses of action.

The Handbook of Dispute Resolution (2005). Moffitt, M. L., & Bordone, R. C. (Eds.) Jossey-Bass, San Francisco:California.

The Harvard Negotiation Project also has mapping tools. It recommends to map: issues, interests, solutions, criteria (legal, social, formulas), and best alternatives to a negotiated agreement.

Mapping the Problem

by admin on November 21, 2011

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