Introduction to ToC Thinking Processes

Thinking Processes in a nutshell

Chris HOHMANN

Chris HOHMANN – Author

Theory of Constraints (ToC) found its original application in industrial production and soon spread to any activity including a physical flow, e.g. administrative work. In this context it is relatively easy to understand physical flows and the existence of bottlenecks hindering the flow.

Yet all constraints are not bottlenecks, i.e. physical constraints. Policies, beliefs and decisions can also constrain an organization, limit the throughput.

To surface the root cause(s) of the problems constraining the throughput, Eli Goldratt “founding father” of Theory of Constraints, proposed a set of logical tools and a way for analyzing the situation and handling non-physical constraints: the Thinking Processes.

Thinking Processes are “logical” in the sense they use either sufficient cause or necessary condition relationship:

  • Sufficient cause : if A exists then B exists
  • Necessary condition: in order for B to exist, A must exist

To learn more about causality logic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Necessity_and_sufficiency

Furthermore, the TP tools are backed up by rules to check validity, clarity, robustness, etc.

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Thinking Processes tools

The Thinking Processes tools are:

TP are not difficult to understand once you’ve got familiar with the metaphoric jargon.

Thinking Processes, as a subset of ToC, remains consistent with ToC’s basic questions about  improvement:

  • What to change?
  • What to change to?
  • How to cause the change?
Each question is backed up by one or two TP Tool
Question TP tool
What to change? Current Reality Tree (CRT)
What to change to? Conflict Resolution Diagram (CRD)
Future Reality Tree (FRT)
How to cause the change? Prerequisite Tree (PRT)
Transition Tree (TT)

The whole process has five sequential steps:

Each tool can be used for itself and some may be used more frequently than others.


Logical Thinking Process – Introduction by William Dettmer


Proceed to next post: Current Reality Tree

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