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The Cothink originated in the late 1990 years. The initial objective was to develop a problem-solving tool to avoid linear causal thinking and simultaneously mobilize the left and right brain.


The Cothink originated in the late 1990 years. The initial objective was to develop a problem-solving tool that would allow:

  • Avoid linear causal thinking: a cause = an effect.
  • Simultaneously mobilize the left and right brain: hence the notion of co-think.
  • Make it easier to identify the actions of prevention and conservation.

This method is based on a single tool on the RATIO process and the event Map tool.

The RATIO approach

The RATIO approach is the acronym for the following steps:


  • Collect data from the problem tool 4W2H and organize the information in a clear and understandable way.
  • Then prioritize the problem in the current context.
  • Determine the approach used to solve it: data to collect, team…
  • Build the event Map


  • For each of the specific sub-problems:
  • Identify possible causes
  • Specify causes
  • Demonstrate with data the veracity of the causes.
  • In particular, we will use the matrix 4W2H Associated with IS is NOT to determine the causes, as well as the Human Factor analysis changes.


  • For each of the specific sub-problems:
  • Determine the objectives of the solution to solve it
  • Develop actions
  • Choose actions using a decision matrix.


  • For each specific solution chosen:
  • Create the detailed action plan
  • Implement actions
  • Document the changes by carrying out a risk analysis on the strength and impact of the solution.


  • Final step, for each of the solutions, to evaluate the results obtained
  • Evaluate the need to implement other actions.
  • Identify learning points and change the standards accordingly.
  • Celebrate and share success.

The event map

The event map is the backbone of the RATIO approach. Started in the REFLECT step it helps to identify problems, solutions and follow-up actions to enable the group to improve efficiency. The event map helps to structure all the information available and to develop a very visual and easy to understand synthesis. The collaborative creation of this structured synthesis makes it possible to focus the stakeholder’s attention on the reality of the situation of the problem rather than arguing about who is right or wrong. In this way, it greatly facilitates the structured and creative efforts to find real solutions to real problems.

This means that it is an extremely effective visual communication tool, both internally and externally.

Vocabulary and Symbol

The map is in the Shape of a logic circuit composed of symbols and colors that can be used to represent problem solving as the analysis progresses:

The event

These are the initial elements posing the problem


The effects of the problems

Unknown Cause

This is what we are trying to explain

Known Cause

These are the causes we know

Contributory circumstance to be studied

Factors that impact the problem

Known contributory circumstance

Factors that impact the problem

Barrier crossed

Conservation Solution that did not work

Barrier to be considered

Conservation Solution not yet set up and to study

Possible Action

Potential Solution to study

Chosen Solution

Chosen Solution to implement

Action implemented

Barrier implemented

Proven Action

Action whose results have been shown

Proven barrier

Barrier whose result has been proven.

  • In blue: These are the initial elements posing the problem
  • In green: What we are trying to explain.
  • In light orange: corrective actions and barriers to consider
  • In bright orange: actions to be implemented
  • In red: Actions implemented
  • In Violet: The results of the actions

Step 1: Define the problem

The first step is to identify the problem we want to solve, using traditional tools like 4W2H. It is then drawn on the event map as the event at the heart of the study.

Step 2: Identify the effects

Go in the downstream direction of the problem to understand the consequences and identify the effects of the problem.

Step 3: Create the causal string

Go back to the source of the problem by a causal relationship to a cause that one does not understand. Then continue the analysis using the matrix 4W2H Associated with is/is NOT.

Step 4: Identify contributory circumstances and barriers

Contributory circumstances are factors/circumstances that have an impact on the problem.

The barriers are preventive actions that are put in place to prevent the problem from happening. A crossed barrier indicates that the measurement is not effective.

Step 5: Identify the owners

Each element (event, cause, barrier, effect) is associated with an owner, i.e. the one most concerned by the item.

Step 6: Set up the actions

Use alternative selection tools (Matrix Diagrammethod PUGH, AHP…) To select the actions.

An example

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