Goal Tree Chronicles – A logical analysis, not a brainstorming

It happens almost every time I facilitate a Goal Tree building seminar: Tree builders rush to the post-its and start writing down their ideas as it was a brainstorming. Hold on! Building a Goal Tree is a logical analysis, certainly not a brainstorming!

A Goal Tree is built with a logical analysis

A Goal Tree is built starting from the Goal, by analyzing what prerequisites are absolutely necessary to achieve the Goal. The listing of those Necessary Conditions is the outcome of a Necessity-based logical analysis and not a brainstorming.

All Necessary Conditions must satisfy at least two conditions to be checked valid in a first pass:

  • Rationally fit into the phrase “in order to achieve [objective], we must have/do [Necessary Condition]
  • Conversely, without this Necessary Condition, it is rationally impossible to achieve the objective

The Goal Tree building process is an iterative one, starting from the Goal and going down the layers of more detailed, underlying prerequisites called Necessary Conditions.

Identifying the required prerequisite level after level ensures that the Tree holds only true Necessary Conditions and is kept free from unnecessary but resource consuming nice-to-haves.

Trying the brainstorming way

Some people may argue that they perfectly know what is required to achieve the Goal and the intermediate objectives that lead to it, and that they will be more productive writing down their thoughts on post-its first and fit them into the Goal Tree in a second step.

Experience shows that what they think of being Necessary Conditions are only replicas of actual practice, thus they are not going to build a Goal Tree – the road map to a desired future state – but a kind of process map of the actual state.

Furthermore, when they try to fit the post-its into the tree and “wire” them to above and underlying entities, some logic tweaking may be necessary. Those irrational relationships will be uncovered when the Tree is scrutinized for its logical soundness and discarded as they violate the logic rules.

Even for valid Necessary Conditions, this approach proves longer, often misleading and less practical than following the logic path and guideline of the necessity analysis. Besides, going for the latter filters out the biases of the actual state as well as the nice-to-haves.

About the author, Chris HOHMANN

About the author, Chris HOHMANN

View Christian HOHMANN's profile on LinkedIn

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