Goal Tree: what is a Necessary Condition?

While the name is pretty self-explanatory, a deeper dive into the meaning of “Necessary Condition” can be helpful.

A Goal Tree is a logical Thinking Process tool starting from the Goal the organization strives to achieve and breaking down all Necessary Conditions to achieve it. The first name of the Goal Tree was Intermediate Objectives Map where “Intermediate Objectives” were in fact “Necessary Conditions”.

Thus, Necessary Conditions are Intermediate Objectives mandatory to achieve in order to achieve the Goal.

Yet for me the name has some importance. Intermediate Objectives sounds like a something secondary, in between but not fundamental compared to “Necessary Conditions” that stress much more the idea of something mandatory.

The beauty of the Tree

For me, the beauty of the Goal Tree lays in the purity of the logical thinking. A Necessary Conditions is the answer to the logical necessity relationship: in order to have…, we (absolutely) need…

In the relationship: “in order to have A, we absolutely need B”, A is the next (intermediate) objective and B the Necessary Condition. A cannot exist / be true / achieved unless B exists / is true / is achieved.

As the whole Tree is built upon this logic and if strictly sticking to it, there is no room for biases like nice-to-haves or great ideas, not even someone’s whim.

When the Tree is used in communication to demonstrate what needs to be done and why – which is pretty easy and straightforward with a robust Goal Tree – the story tells what is imposed by the circumstances (competition, economic situation, etc.) and not by someone’s questionable “great idea”.

Furthermore, a Goal Tree and the related improvement/transformation program should survive a top management change as it is not related to a charismatic leader nor visionary leader, but only to the logical analysis of the circumstances. The latter should not be person-dependent.

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