Scrutinizing and improving a Current Reality Tree (video tutorial)

In this video, I scrutinize and suggest improvements on a Current Reality Tree (CRT) found on the Internet. A logically sound CRT is key to convince audience about the robustness of the analysis and the reality of the causes to the trouble. If there is room for doubt or the logical has flaws, chances are that the audience will not buy-in, especially those having some “skin in the game”…

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3 thoughts on “Scrutinizing and improving a Current Reality Tree (video tutorial)

  1. Thanks Chris, this was very timely as we have recently completed a CRT for our business and are at the stage of scrutinising it. Seeing a worked example is very helpful. I had a go at “correcting” the example CRT before watching the rest of your video, and came up with this , which in many ways is similar to your modified version. I found it fascinating to see how when you create a logically consistent CRT there are more points at which you can create an injection, e.g. through customer training in this example.

    Do you have any thoughts on what level of granularity is appropriate in a CRT? In constructing a CRT for our own business, we created a very detailed one with several hundred entities. On the one hand this is great for understanding in depth how our business works, but on the other hand it is hard to see the “forest” for all the trees.


    • Thank you Tobias for your feedback.

      To answer your question, I would not consider “granularity”, which suggests choosing to possibly letting things out, but scope.
      First, the name Current Reality Tree is somewhat misleading because we use it to describe only what is not working well or the unwanted reality.
      Second, the scope should be limited to the span of someone’s control (where this person has authority to make change happen), potentially extended to the “sphere of influence” (where the person can influence the happening of the change).

      Additionally, a CRT is not a process map. It’s a description of cause-and-effects leading to something negative to the system as a whole. Again, not a full description of the Current Reality.

      In my experience most CRT range from 30 to 60 entities, that is with tight syllogistic logic, something not everyone does.
      In some cases, when a department or resource is shared by many others in the organization and it brings up many problems, a CRT may count up to approx. 100 entities. Above this either the problem is of incredible complexity or the scope is too broad (or CRT construction flawed). Yet I would not say a CRT does not have more than 100, I simply never saw one with several hundreds!

      A last thing: yes the CRT properly built gives hints about solutions, but a CRT is only meant to register the current (negative) state. Solutions will be developed with other trees/tools.

      Hope this helps.


  2. Chris, thanks for taking the time to write such a thoughtful response.

    I think you put your finger on the problem with “the CRT properly built gives hints about solutions, but a CRT is only meant to register the current (negative) state. Solutions will be developed with other trees/tools.”

    Where we may have created many entities is by listing the absence of particular solutions/actions as entities in our CRT.

    E.g. “Revenue stream A declines”
    Why? Because “We don’t use marketing strategy X” AND “We don’t use marketing tactic Y” AND “We don’t use marketing strategy Z”. I think we may have inadvertently built some of a prerequisite tree into our CRT.

    Thanks also for your perspective re limiting scope rather than granularity. We did limit our scope to sphere of influence and the negative branch of current reality, so I think we did that part right.


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