The Tritt Method
English though Case Studies
analysed and solved in workshops
using language analysis,
brainstorming and mind-mapping
copyright, Graham Tritt, 1993, 1995, 1998
information on the use of this method
The Tritt method is a technique for stepwise analysis of problems and generation
of solutions. It was developed to define a standard easy-to-learn
procedure to organise and streamline the often complex discussions which
occur in dealing with business problems. (The word tritt means step in German.)
The Tritt method uses forms of brainstorming and mind-mapping and is
highly effective in group problem solving. It applies techniques
from psychology and business management, and has been specially adapted
for use in language classes and communication courses. It can be
taught in a few hours by practical use, with a case study.
The method is described abstractly below with typical aspects, which
in any particular case can vary somewhat. There are a number of case
studies which illustrate its use.
Phase 1: Nouns and Adjectives.
Aim of the first step is to identify the "actors" - the persons,
objects, systems, and even abstracts which are involved somehow in the
In addition, the "characteristics" of the actors are listed -
the features which characterize the actors.
The result is a list of actors or a table of actors and their characteristics.
For better organisation, this information can be structured in a mind
Language and Understanding
In terms of English language analysis, actors and other objects can be
recognised as they are usually proper nouns or pronouns.
The characteristics are the adjectives which describe the nouns.
A major problem in understanding a case study described in a foreign language
is that, during discussion, the reader continually looks back at the original
text. He spends a large amount of effort evaluating different interpretations
and verifying that he has understood it correctly. The Tritt Method
eliminates this, by making the first step "Nouns and Adjectives" completely
mechanical and deterministic. No new information is introduced.
This allows the initial phase to be completely devoted to language use
- for instance explaining idiomatic expressions, disambiguating, selecting
from alternative translations, and ensuring agreement in the discussion
This "translation" step is equally important for native speakers.
The need to completely understand the case is essential for further steps.
The output format of tables or a map simply allows the information to be
better organised, and its presentation on a flipchart or whiteboard ensures
that the whole group agrees on it.
The Mind Map
Each and every detail of the original text should be depicted in the resulting
list or map - no matter how unimportant it may seem at the moment.
As when brainstorming, no judgement should be made at this time on the
relevance or value of any particular item or information. It just
may turn out later that this item leads to a critical insight or a solution
which no other information has led to.
The aim is therefore to reproduce all the information in an organised
form, so that the original text can be thrown away.
There may be information in the original which is hard to fit to an
actor - for instance relationships between actors or an
action (a verb). This information should still be somehow entered on the list or
map, so that its information is complete. For instance the noun "merger"
can represent the combination of two businesses A and B, and we now have
three actors where one is a combination of the other two. Or, the
action "resigned" can be listed as a characteristic of a person.
An alternative can be represented as a fork to several characteristics.
1. As a revision and improvement to the resulting list or mind-map, the
actors may be grouped, classified, or decomposed into sub-units.
New actors may be introduced which bettor organise the structure.
For instance, the "environment" may be introduced to represent public opinion
or a legal framework for the problem, or "customers" or "shareholders"
may be introduced because it has relevance for instance to financing which
is already on the map.
2. Links can be reassigned, for instance to new actors, but the information
must not be lost.
3. Just as for a brainstorming session, a break should occur after this
step. A period of at least five minutes, or better a day or a week,
allows members of the group to reorient themselves to the new understanding,
and to come back fresh to the more creative part.
4. If you have been developing maps or tables, redraw the information
as a map to make the relationships easier to see. If you started
with a map, extract a list of actors and their characteristics for reference.
Many people work with one format better than with the other. The list or
map may be reworked and cleaned up for redistribution - but still obeying
the rule of complete information.
5. Any particularly complex linguistic formulation in the original text
sould be analysed grammatically. A list can be made of appropriate
Phase 2. Relationships
We have now identified the actors and their characteristics. We now add
the information which shows the relationships between actors.
This can be done in a brainstorming format.
We extend the mind-map to add "relationships," which are depicted
by lines joining other points. In a list format, we have to dot a
curve from one item to another. For instance, an action such as sending
a letter from A to B can be represented as a link by a dotted line.
Remember, initially we are only representing existing information.
It is easy to move at this stage of problem analysis to think about directions
for solution. This must be avoided until we are sure that we have
represented all the existing information.
Now develop the relationships further. We can link every actor to
every other! For n actors, this results in n*(n-1) links if direction
is important. List the links and the sort of relationship that it
This step requires practice. It is amazing, but everything has
some sort of effect on everything else - or can be made to have an effect.
Typical links between two persons, for instance, can indicate characteristics
of their relationship or actions which one can take which effect the other.
This is a creative brainstorming step. Anybody can suggest a possible
relationship. Any actions which any actor can take should be entered,
with their effect on the other actors. No evaluation is made at
There is no specific language-dependent exercise in this step.
Participants are too active and creative to be disturbed by explanations
and corrections. It could be necessary to prompt for terms for example
for business relationships or financial options.
Changes in Actors and Characteristics
There may possibly be new actors - not specified explicitly in the original
text. Actors can be subdivided or regrouped into others.
Since actors are identified with their characteristics,
it can be useful to consider what can be done
to alter these charactreristics.
For instance, a person should take a communications course.
Another technique which is useful at this time is to identify change
points. Where alternatives are available, a choice can be made, and
this can have an effect on other actors so should be represented by a link.
The result of this session is an extended mind-map or a much larger
list of relationships and possible actions. We surely have some good
solutions, which will be considered in the next step. Take a break!
Changes in Relationships
In the same way, we consider how we can change the relationships between
actors. We may recognise an initial state, and can discuss how to
change it into a more desired state. This leads us into the next
section, when we make these proposals more concrete.
A list or a diagrammatic technique can be used
to depict relationships and changes.
Phase 3. Verbs and Adverbs
The purpose of this step is to formulate and evaluate positive actions:
proposals. Starting with the actors and relationships, we
define strategies and tactics in the form of actions which will change
We can define actions to modify relationships which are seen as undesirable.
We can define actions to change unwanted characteristics of actors.
We can even state that we want to remove actors or create new ones.
In language terms, we are going to formulate statements with verbs which
say what we are planning to do.
If we use the imperative form what we want to do is even stronger and
For example, "We need to get more money for investment" is weak.
We can say "borrow more money" or "file for protection from creditors.
At the same time we define the details: who, what, when, where, and how.
We are defining adverbs of time, place and purpose. This leads us
to clearly formulated proposals, for example, "offer sales bonuses for
six months for this product" or "set up a new reporting system."
Making a plan
The proposals can be grouped for instance by strategy, by the actor initiating
them, or by their general effect on the same actor (for example, improve
the company image presented to the public).
Presenting the results
The result can be presented as a memo for discussion at an executive meeting.
(A memo requires sentence structures but not a high literary standard).
Different actors may each have actions to propose.
Here, as at previous steps, we may need more information. You could
invent it, make an assumption to define it, or set up an action to get
it. Further activities could including modelling the results of the
Why is the Tritt Method Useful for learning English
The initial task is to fully understand the case. The first danger
is that we start discussing the case before we know everything about it
- and then we waste time by mixing the process of comprehension with the
processes of problem analysis, discussion and resolution. The second
danger is that we don't realise that we have missed something important.
Then we waste time searching and re-interpreting the original text.
Because English is needed to fully understand the case.
Because the exercise is interesting and practical.
Because the case is a real situation
Because the student is solving problems.
The "Tritt Method" overcomes these two problems, while guaranteeing
that all aspects are considered.