What is this thing called the Logical Thinking Process?

Who can better explain what the Logical Thinking Process is if not his father? Bill Dettmer worked with Eli Goldratt applying the Thinking Processes (subtlety about the plural) but spotted some weak points  he managed to elegantly mend. He finally came up with an integrated process for solving complex problems at system level and refuses to call the logic tools “processes” as they are not according to him.

Now, invest 4:20 to learn from Bill Dettmer himself what the Logical Thinking Process is.

Bill and I took advantage of some of his slack time before returning home, after the June 2018 Logical Thinking Process Training Course to shoot some videos.


The Logical Thinking Process – An Executive Summary (book presentation)

Bill Dettmer, my friend and mentor often cited on this blog, published his 9th book “The Logical Thinking Process – An Executive Summary”.

This new book is much smaller in size and number of pages than the famous “big green book” (The Logical Thinking Process: A Systems Approach to Complex Problem Solving), only 65 pages compared to 413 pages. The ‘Executive Summary’ is really what it intends to be: a summary and according to the author, most readers can read it within an hour.

Bill Dettmer explains: “Over the years, I’ve found myself having to explain what the Logical Thinking Process is in 30 seconds or so to people who have never heard of it – or know nothing about it if they have. I came to the conclusion that while the Logical Thinking Process (LTP) is difficult, if not impossible, to encapsulate in an “elevator speech,” it might be somewhat easier to do in a pocket-sized book.

“The Logical Thinking Process – An Executive Summary” describes the Logical Thinking Process (LTP), what it is and how it works, the value leaders can get out of the LTP without going into the details of building the logic trees. This is left to the “big green book”.

The ‘Executive Summary’ is meant to give enough insight to decide if it’s worth or not going further with the LTP. Many executives won’t probably invest the necessary time to master the logic tools by themselves, but probably send some of their trusted subordinates to attend a Logical Thinking Process Training Course instead.

Executives however will know enough by reading the ‘Executive Summary’ to read the logic trees and be familiar with their structure and knowledgeable about their usage.

Book Presentation

I was fortunate to be selected by Bill as a manuscript reviewer and proofreader, and had a privileged first reading. The book that came out is more elaborate and “polished” than the drafts I first saw and I had not seen the illustrations until I got the published copy though.

Some of them are the same than in the ‘big green book’, some are new. Bill likes to add some humorous cartoons in his presentations and while these did not find a place in his textbooks, he took the opportunity to add some in the “The Logical Thinking Process – An Executive Summary”.

This book has 7 chapters: one for the overview of the whole Logical Thinking Process, one for each of the 5 logic trees and a final one for wrapping up.

Chapter 1

The first chapter is a primer on the Logical Thinking Process and an introduction to the five logic tools. The chapter ends with a short conclusion.

Chapter 2

The Goal Tree is the central tool of the Logical Thinking Process as well as Bill’s brainchild, linking together the preexisting logic tools into a real and unique Logical Thinking Process. The specific role of the Goal Tree is shown in the LTP roadmap wheel as well as summarized in this first chapter.

The Goal Tree is really feeding the other logic tools with elements vital to the system: the system’s Goal itself, the Critical Success Factors and the Necessary Conditions to achieve the Goal.

Making the Goal Tree the hub of the LTP roadmap wheel ensures that the gap analysis and the problem solving injections are still aligned with the system’s Goal and all improvements benefit to the system as a whole.

Chapters 3 to 7

Each of the following chapter describes the structure and role of each of the other four logic tools and the last chapter “puts it all together”. Bill Dettmer shares some examples where the Logical Thinking Process was used to drive organizations to their success.

Personal comments about the book

This 65-page book serves its purpose: allowing anybody a glimpse into the world of logical analysis and problem solving without being overwhelmed with too much jargon and technical details. It is a quick and easy read as the author intended it to be.

For former Logical Thinking Process training course alumni, the book can be a good refresher, especially if they failed to follow the important advice to practice, practice, practice.

Renaming the logic tools (Trees and Cloud)

The Logical Thinking Process has a lot of jargon and one has to learn it to be able to understand and use the tools. While I agree that some tools’ names are not self-explanatory, they have been around for so long that the community accepted and used them. The available literature refers to the tools using the original names and therefore I expressed my reservations when Bill Dettmer came up with new names.

Usual names New names
Current Reality Tree Problem Tree
Evaporating Cloud Conflict Resolution Diagram
Future Reality Tree Solution Tree
Prerequisite Tree Deployment Tree

In order to link new to old, the new ones are usually followed by the old in brackets or by a more elaborate explanation. These new names however should be used only to lead the Executive Summary readers into the subject without scaring them upfront with hermetic lingo.

The OODA loop, cowboy philosopher and guns

Anyone knowing Bill Dettmer and/or who attended his Logical Thinking Process Training Course will not be surprised to find that Boyd’s OODA loop found its way in a booklet of only 65 pages. The ODDA loop, in my humble opinion could have been left out for the sake of simplicity.

Bill’s favorite cowboy philosopher is quoted at least 3 times, inconsistently with his actual fame and depth of the shared wisdom, in my opinion.

Finally, the analogy of the Logical Thinking Process and knowledge with a gun and bullets is also to be found at the very end, a metaphor I am not fond of.

Bill Dettmer’s presentation of the book

Right after the June 2018 session of the Logical Thinking Process Training Course in Paris, France, Bill and I took the opportunity to videotape Bill’s own presentation of the book.

Buy the book: [Amazon]

Goal Tree Chronicles – lessons from the logical path

May 2018. I have spent two days facilitating a seminar on strategy deployment with a bunch of motivated young intrapreneurs – middle managers empowered to run their business as if it was theirs. I based my coaching on the Goal Tree, a logic tool of choice among the Logical Thinking Process, totally suiting the purpose.

During these two days I probably learned as much as my audience, even so on very different aspects, and this makes the consultant’s job worth doing it. In this post I share some of my lessons learned.

Been told to deploy the strategy vs. bring your organization to the next level

Usually the Goal of an organization is defined by the founders, the owners or their delegates. Those people know why, what for the organization was created, why money was invested and what the organization is supposed to achieve. The Goal is set and it’s up to the subordinates to carry out the deployment of the necessary tasks to achieve it.

It is conversely unusual that the Goal can be (re)defined by young middle managers. Except in a culture fostering engagement and entrepreneurship, showing confidence, granting support and as much of wellbeing as possible to its talents.

It makes a huge different though if the Goal is set by a remote boss or committee with loose ties with the unit or if the future is defined by the managers running it and having their skin in the game every single day.

In my pleasant and uncommon experience, it was the latter that was done: the managers in charge defined the Goal and ambition for their unit, worked out the details of how to achieve it and “sold” the whole to their bosses. It was a great success and the CEO asked unexpectedly to work out an even bigger ambition.

Twenty minutes to define the Goal and three hours to work out the details

This is another benchmark in my own records working with management teams. The consensual Goal was defined with a compelling phrase in a matter of 20 minutes. This is, according to my experience, a very short time.

It shows how aligned the team of 12 members was, even before starting the work with goal setting and strategy deployment. I remember another case in which I had to struggle many hours to simply get enough acceptance from a management team about their boss’s Goal, despite the fact they worked on a daily basis with him… Their competitors are still safe I think.

The three hours to get to enough details of the underlying Necessary Conditions is consistent with my records, provided you don’t have a naysayer in the team. Now three hours don’t get you in every detail of the tasks to carry out, but give a sufficient picture to communicate and share with more people in the organization.

As my “students” soon realized, further details must be worked out with their subordinates in order to onboard them and let them be part of building their future. Themselves as managers had a clear enough picture of what must be done, how to align their staff to get it done and how to explain the whole scheme to their bosses.

A pure logic tool can leave some space for emotions

Before this seminar I always presented the Goal Tree as a pure logic tool filtering out the emotional side of things. From now on I have to amend my speech. First because applying my lessons by the letter, the first Goal statement my students came up with could only be compelling for the most fanatic accountants. As I gave my surprised feedback that such a Goal would not trigger many dreams of a desirable future, the reply was: “you told us that emotions have no place in the logic tools”.

Alright, I had to explain that the Goal statement was an exception for the sake of being compelling, otherwise nobody would possibly get thrilled by a series of numbers, i.e. the expression of the Goal in measurable units. Except for the already mentioned fanatic accountants.

The next place where emotion is welcome is in the room, in front of the brown paper where the Tree builders build their Goal Tree with sticky notes. The rational analysis of the Necessary Conditions to achieve the desirable scheme can be done with passion as long as it is positively driving the group and does not lead to fights. In the case this post is based on, it was a very positive and collaborative mood.

Third place (moment would be more adequate) where emotion is likely to show, and is in some extend welcome, is when the Goal Tree builders present their work and “sell” their project to their audience. Without emotion, even the most compelling written Goal statement may not move the audience as much as a passionate invitation to the journey to achieve it by the project presenters.

Except for the Goal statement, my initial stance remains valid. Emotion will not find its place in the Goal Tree itself.

About the author, Chris HOHMANN

About the author, Chris HOHMANN

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