The Logical Thinking Process refers to the work of William (Bill) Dettmer summarized in the book of the same title. The Logical Thinking Process (LTP) is a one to six steps* process using sound logic and a set of tools (or processes) to provide executives and system managers an effective method for designing organizational strategy, planning its deployment, evaluating its effectiveness, and making corrections as needed in the shortest possible time.
*the number of steps required or used may vary by necessity or choice/experience of the practitioners
It starts with the Goal statement, the Vision or what the Lean community refers to as “True North”. The Goal can be set only by those who created the system, the system owners or those having the responsibility to conduct the organization toward the Goal set by the founders.
The Goal is dependent upon a series of Necessary Conditions, among which some high level terminal outcome are called Critical Success factors. The visual representation from the Goal down to Necessary Conditions forms the Goal Tree.
The Goal Tree is a benchmark but the actual condition of the organization may not be the one required.Thus the Goal Tree gives input to the next tool in the Logical Thinking Process: the Current Reality Tree (CRT).
With the CRT, the organization is assessed or “audited” about gaps between the Goal Tree requirements and the actual condition. Gaps lead to Undesirable Effects or UDEs. These UDEs are the inputs for the next tool: the Future Reality Tree (FRT) in which the UDEs are neutralized with “injections”; causes or conditions not yet existing and designed to turn UDEs into their opposites: Desirable Effects (DEs), without bringing negative side effects.
Between CRT and FRT is another tool, called Evaporating Cloud (EC) or Conflict Resolution Diagram (CRD). It is specifically used to solve conflicts, like going for small batches wanted by sales and going for big batches wanted by production, for example. Each party has good reasons to demand for what they see as being the best, but usually the conflict is based on false assumptions the EC helps to surface and then “evaporate” the conflict.
The Prerequisite Tree (PRT) is the next tool of the LTP. It is used when stakeholders argue about obstacles to implement the solutions found with the FRT and EC. Every obstacle is then neutralized or by-passed with Intermediate Objectives (IOs), smaller necessary steps and conditions to fulfill in order to bypass the obstacles.
Finally the Transition Tree (TT) is a kind of detailed action plan but still at system level. Actions, combined with the actual reality and the needed condition lead to the desired new reality and closer to the Goal.
Rational, logic, robust
All the Trees and the Cloud are based on logical relationships between their entities, which makes them as well as the whole process unbiased of beliefs, false assumptions, emotional and irrational choices, and filter out irrelevant or unnecessary “nice-to-haves”.
The result, if correctly built, is a very robust and complete roadmap to the next level towards the organization’s goal.
The various tools, especially Goal Tree, Current Reality Tree, Evaporating Cloud and Future Reality Tree may be used as stand-alones or in combination. When rolling out the whole Logical Thinking Process, the work group may stop when the FRT is complete and checked, as they feel no need to get into more details with the next trees.
Don’t be afraid by all the metaphoric jargon, it must be learnt but is not that hard. All the available body of knowledge relies on this jargon and it’s the Theory of Constraints community lingo. No way to do without it, like it or not.
Thinking Processes versus Logical Thinking Process
There is a subtle difference between Thinking Processes – plural – and (Logical) Thinking Process – singular.
- The Thinking Processes refer to the five tools, four trees and one cloud, from CRT to TT and do generally not include the Goal Tree.
- The Logical Thinking Process is the process described previously, using the same tools plus the Goal Tree. Bill Dettmer keeps considering the trees and cloud as tools, not as processes and sees only one overall process.