What is a logical “long arrow”?

In Logical Thinking Process (LTP) parlance a long arrow is a “leap of logic” or the omission of one or several cause-and-effect steps that connect a cause to an effect.

In the Logical Thinking Process, a cause is linked to its effect by an arrow. The arrow’s tail is connected to the cause and the tip points to the effect. Hence the reference to the arrow.

In the picture, the cause is at the bottom and the effect is on the top.

Ellipses are logical “AND” connectors. Arrows going through an ellipse read “if…. AND if… then…”

Some may refer to the AND connectors as “bananas” but I would not encourage this.

The “long arrow” skips several “if…then…” or cause-and-effect relationships, also considered as logical steps.

Leaps of logic are to be avoided for the sake of logical soundness. Long arrows are likely to confuse an audience as the listeners or readers cannot naturally link the things together.

True listeners may have difficulties to follow the speaker’s logic or readers might get confused, lost or perplexed while reading a text.

Many people speak or write long arrows because the sequence of causes-and-effects is clear in their mind. They don’t pay enough attention how their thinking can be received by someone not knowing about the subject, the unspoken assumptions or the implicit and skipped relationships.

The more logical steps or cause-and-effect links skipped between a specific cause and an certain effect and the longer the arrow.

In the scrutinization process of logic trees, long arrows are generally considered as “mistakes” or at least “logical improvement points”. Long arrows are not officially considered as Categories of Legitimate Reservations (CLR), but could in fact. Long arrows should be broken into more detailed steps in order to get the faulty tree more sound and robust from the Logical Thinking Process point of view.

Why you cannot use tentative language in a logic tree

I once happen to see a Current Reality Tree cluttered with “coulds” and “shoulds”. Conditional or tentative language cannot be used with logic trees and here is why.

Cause-and-effect (sufficiency logic)

The Logical Thinking Process logic trees use either sufficiency or necessity logic. Sufficiency or cause-and-effect relationship states that a cause, if it exists, is sufficient by itself for the effect to happen. Using conditionals like should or could violates the sufficiency principle as it suggests that the cause is not always producing the effect.

The Current Reality Tree (CRT), Future Reality Tree (FRT) and Transition Tree (TT) are built on sufficiency logic and therefore cannot hold any entity with shoulds or coulds.

If a should or could is found in such a tree, the scrutinizer must raise a “cause insufficiency reservation“. The statement must then be corrected, for example by adding one or more additional cause(s) combining to the first one with a logical AND connector. If this combination is valid, the sufficiency relationship is restored and should or could is removed as the effect is now guaranteed to happen.

If no additional causes can combine to the first one, the cause-and-effect relationship is probably only assumed or false. Anyway no should or could can be left in a logically sound tree.

Using present tense

The entities – the building blocks of the logic trees holding the statements – must be expressed in present tense.

Using present tense is natural in a Current Reality Tree (CRT) as it is the description of the actual situation, the cause-and-effects relationships that exist right now.

The use of present tense in Future Reality Trees (FRT) is highly recommended even so these future situations and the Desirable Effects do not yet exist. Present tense helps to project oneself and the audience into the future and visualize the situation as it were already improved (Scheinkopf, “Thinking for a change, putting the TOC Thinking Processes to use”, p119). Dettmer also recommends to use positive wording (Dettmer, The Logical Thinking Process, p244).

This applies to entities in a CRT, a FRT and in a Prerequisite Tree (PRT) which are verbalized in full sentences.

Can necessity logic based tree use conditional/ tentative language?

The Goal Tree (GT), the Evaporating Cloud (EC) and Prerequisite Tree (PRT) are built on necessity logic. They describe the chains of enabling conditions that are required to achieve a goal or an objective. Without the enabling conditions, the objective cannot be attained. Conversely, with the enabling, necessary conditions fulfilled, the objective will not automatically be achieved; additional action is required.

As the Desired Effect is not guaranteed to happen even so all necessary conditions are fulfilled, the use of conditional / tentative language seems legit. Practitioners would not use it though.

First because we need to demonstrate positivity about a desirable change and help the audience to mentally visualize the future where things happen and produce the desired outcome.

Second because we need to give confidence and demonstrate our own trust in the proposed solution. No audience would be thrilled hearing that this solution “may”, “should” or “could” produce the desired result. No decision maker would give his/her go for a change program or a solution implementation which is not certain to produce the expected result.

The use of conditional / tentative language would only raise concern about the feasibility of the proposed solution and appear as a lack of confidence of its promoters.

Wrapping up

Tentative language is recommended in academic writing, not at all with logic trees.

Using tentative language is recommended in academic writing and scientific research in order to leave room for alternatives, later corrections, etc. unless there is solid evidence backing up a statement. Therefore the use of verbs like “appear, suggest, indicate,…”, modals “may, might, can, could, will, would” and adverbs like “possibly, probably, likely…” are recommended.

But when building or presenting logic trees, absolute certainty is required in order to demonstrate robustness of the analysis and the confidence in the conclusions. If a logic tree is built on the canonical logic rules (we’ll consider the use of present tense as a canonical logic rule), has been scrutinized and cleared of all reservations, it is robust and tentative language is no option.

The author, Chris HOHMANN

Industry 4.0 promoter’s flaw of logic and Categories of Legitimate Reservation

Promoters of any solution or change agents of are usually in love with the object of their promotion. Love is said to be blind and oblivious of any negative aspect of the loved thing. That is why so often promoters of change highlight all the benefits of the change, regardless of any Undesirable side Effects for the people they try to convince to change. They usually also complain about resistance to change when skeptic listeners do not show enthusiasm for the promoted brilliant solution.

But promoters may also forget to adapt their communication to the targeted audience. They may know well their subject and cut corners, leaving the audience with doubts and questions about a logic they can’t completely follow.

In this post I will address:

For that I pick two sentences from an Industry 4.0 promoter’s blog post which does not seem logically sound.

The statement

“Brave companies who adopt new approaches (e.i. Industry 4.0) and adapt how they manufacture and run their businesses will be rewarded with success. While those who drag their feet and avoid risk will get left behind.”

There is no further explanation in the blog to backup these two sentences.

The first sentence, rephrased in logical cause-and-relationship reads: “if companies adopt new approaches (e.i. Industry 4.0) AND if companies adapt how they manufacture and run their businesses THEN companies will be rewarded by success.”

The AND here suggest that the two conditions must be fulfilled simultaneously in order to cause the success.

Necessity-based logic versus sufficiency-based logic

The statement is made with sufficiency-based logic, because it suggest that the adoption of new approaches and adaptation are sufficient to cause the companies to be successful.

Sufficiency is base on “if…then” or cause-and-effect relationship.

If the article was about listing all the conditions necessary to make the companies successful, it would have been necessity-based logic. In this case the relationship would have been: “in order to… the companies must…”.

The logical structure that Logical Thinking Process aware people “see” in the statement is either a Communication Current Reality Tree or a Future Reality Tree.

To learn more about necessity-based logic versus sufficiency-based logic, check my post: Goal Tree Chronicles – Enablers vs.triggers

Reservations

1 – Clarity

The first reservation about this statement is a clarity reservation about the meaning of “success”. What is “success”? How can we measure it? How can we know whether the company is “successful” or not?

Unfortunately there is no way to ask the author for clarification. One could understand that deployment of industry 4.0 technologie(s) together with adaptation of the work procedures is a success. A project manager in charge of such a program would surely agree about this definition of success.

The CEO and the board are probably looking for more than having the latest technologies installed, even it probably helps the image of the company to have a nice techno-showcase. In their view, success is more likely increase of sales, profit and market share. Let’s assume this one is meant by “success”.

We could go on and challenge the meaning of “new approaches”, “industry 4.0” or even what is exactly meant by “how they manufacture”. In case someone really need clarification, the question could be raised, otherwise let’s not go for unnecessary wordsmithing.

2 – Entity existence

An entity in the Logical Thinking Process parlance is a statement that conveys an idea. An entity is also the logical box holding the statement in the various logic trees.

An entity must only convey a single idea, therefore when building a logic tree on this statement we must have 3 entities combining their effects to produce one outcome: the success of the companies (read figure from bottom to top).

3 – Causality existence

Causality existence is checking the existence of the causal connection between entities.

“if companies adopt Industry 4.0 AND if companies adapt how they manufacture AND if companies adapt how they run their businesses THEN companies will be rewarded by success.”

Does it exist? One example would be enough to demonstrate it exists, but, in absence of hard evidence, the likeliness of the causality existence must be evaluated. We assume it’s ok.

4 – Cause sufficiency

Are the 3 proposed causes sufficient alone to produce the effect “successful companies”? I would intuitively say no. There is a lot more necessary. We are here facing a typical “long arrow” which is a leap of logic from some causes directly to the outcome, ignoring intermediate steps and conditions in between.

This is typical when people discuss matters they know well because they don’t have to detail everything, they know what is missing and is implicit. But here it is about promoting something which is quite new (in 2017), relatively complicated and not very well-known by laymen. Effort should be paid to elaborate on the message in order to favor buy-in.

This check is looking for other causes that can independently produce the same effect. There are indeed other ways for companies to be successful than going for industry 4.0, but the statement suggests there is only one, as it warns: “those who drag their feet and avoid risk will get left behind.”

Conclusion

With these two last reservations we uncover the major flaw in the statement:

• The proposed “logic” is not likely to be enough to produce the expected effect
• There are other ways to be successful

From the audience point of view, the argumentation is weak. This is more likely to raise suspicion about the promoter’s expertise and trustworthiness, thus distrust and reservation than frantic enthusiasm about the proposed idea.

Such a weak argumentation can have devastating effects, making decision makers to turn their backs, refusing a good plan or a clever strategy which was ill-prepared and badly presented.

The Categories of Legitimate Reservation are 8 formal “rules” or “tests” used to check the logical soundness of a reasoning or an argumentation. They are part of the Logical Thinking Process corpus.

Beware of the Logical Thinking Process apparent simplicity

It happens often with methods and tools that look simple: people giving it a try think they master the subject when in reality they more or less failed with their trial. It is not different with the Logical Thinking Process.

The Current Reality Tree is maybe one of the logic trees the most attractive to rookies. The classic Theory of Constraints’ Thinking Processes as well as Bill Dettmer’s Logical Thinking Process propose a structured and step-by-step approach to go from gathering “undesirable effects” or UDEs to revealing the root causes via a Current Reality Tree (CRT).

Even so the two approaches have slight differences, they follow the same construction and analysis pattern and both the stress the need to build the CRT with the mandatory logical soundness. Therefore there are rules to follow as well as a check process called the Categories of Legitimate Reservations (CLR).

Alas, what most people recall is that the Current Reality Tree is built by connecting UDEs with cause-and-effect sufficiency logic relations using a simple if…then… verbalization. Then, look at the bottom of the tree and somewhere there lies the mother cause of all evil. Kill this root cause and the whole tree of negative consequences will collapse. Tada, job done.

The apparent simplicity of building a CRT and some overconfidence, mixed with the laziness to go through thorough checking ends up with disappointing trees which are not logically robust.

Besides the risk of failing to find the right causes to problems and consequently proposing inappropriate solutions, the analysts may be taken by surprise by someone listening to their brilliant demonstration and pointing out flaws of logic. Embarrassing.

This can be devastating, because even if the analysis is ultimately leading to the real core problems, the doubts raised during a flawed presentation may end up in disbelief or rejection of the conclusions.

As Bill Dettmer warns in his personal style at the end of his 6-day intensive Logical Thinking Process Training Course, “You are now armed and dangerous”. In essence he gave the participants potent weapons, but their lack of practice may lead them to shoot themselves in the leg.

Well, considering my own scars, I can only agree.

What are Categories of Legitimate Reservation?

Categories of Legitimate Reservation (CLR) are rules for scrutinizing the validity and logical soundness of Theory of ConstraintsThinking Processes logic trees and diagrams.

As with most of simple looking methods and tools, it is easy to get trapped or misuse the seemingly simple logical tools proposed by the Thinking Processes. In order to prevent decision making and actions based on flawed analysis, the CLR provide effective rules to check and validate the logical soundness of the various trees and diagrams.

Bill Dettmer call them “logical glue” that hold the trees together. In “The Logical Thinking Process”, Bill provides a full chapter (34 pages on the CLR).

There are eight Categories of Legitimate Reservation:

1. Clarity: is used to check the complete understanding of a word, idea or causal connection and avoid ambiguous wording. All the trees and diagrams are also good communication support, it is therefore important to insure the content is fully understood by anyone, even people not involved in the trees and diagrams construction.

2. Entity Existence verifies the reality or existence of the stated entity in the reality of the scope of analysis or problem solving. Sometimes people confuse building logical Thinking Processes trees and brainstorming, adding entities which are assumptions but not proven realities.

3. Causality Existence is the next thing to verify. Does the cause really lead to this effect? It is then important to read aloud the relationship, for example: “if A exist, then B exist” or “in order to have B, we must have A”.

4. Cause Sufficiency looks for one (set of) cause(s) to be sufficient by itself to create the effect. In complex systems, several independent causes could lead to the effect (logical OR) or some causes may combine to produce a given effect (logical AND).

If one legit cause remains hidden/unknown, the injections (solutions) may not always prevent the effect to occur. It is therefore important to list all causes.

5. Additional Cause is the check if no other cause, not mentioned so far, could have the same effect.

6. Cause-Effect Reversal checks the possible confusion between cause and effect.

7. Predicted Effect Existence is the search for an (additional expected and verifiable effect of a particular cause. Dettmer states that this reservation does not stand alone, but helps to validate or invalidate causality existence. If another predictable effect appears with this cause, the cause exists. If the additional effect does not show, the cause existence is very likely invalid.

8. Tautology, also called circular logic, is checking if the effect is not the sole and insufficient proof or rationale offered for the cause existence. It happens mostly when the cause is intangible: I strongly hopped for good weather ==> the weather was good because I strongly hopped for it.

“Long arrows”

Looking for “long arrows” is not formally part of the CLRs but I see it as such.

Long arrows are logical relationships linking causes to effects skipping multiple intermediate cause-and-effects, usually because the analysts know the intermediate links and do not feel necessary to describe them.

The risk of long arrows is to confuse people who weren’t involved in the tree building and/or are not sufficient familiar with the subject or situation.

Long arrows may also appear as flaws in the tree construction, thus making people reading them or attending a presentation doubt about the robustness and soundness of the whole.

The only acceptable long arrows, which are purposely used, are for Executive Summary Trees. And in this case, some caution is advised.

Goal-Setting Theory and Goal Trees

Goal-Setting Theory states that goal-Setting, when done properly, is motivating. A Goal Tree complies to the requirements of a motivating goal-setting, here is why.

Goal-Setting Theory

According to Theory, Goal-Setting (and the underlying objectives) helps to focus onto the Goal and keep focused. Set Goals tend to increase effort in order to achieve them. Once Goals are set, they reinforce persistence as one does not want to admit failure. Goals make us creative or make us learn when necessary skills are not mastered.

Yet good Goal-Setting requires:

• Specificity, which means clarity of purpose, precisely specified objectives, etc.
• Challenge or Difficulty, which make achievement a victory and more satisfactory. Goals impossible to achieve are not motivating, though.
• Acceptance and commitment. Goals forced onto someone may not motivate much.
• Feedback and appraisal. This is necessary for “calibration” and benchmarking.

Goal Tree and Goal-Setting Theory

A Goal Tree sets a Goal, that’s why this logical tree has been created for. It was because many efforts got lost by not knowing what the Goal was that Bill Dettmer derived the Thinking Processes (TP) Intermediate Objective Map (IO Map) into a more suitable tool he called the Goal Tree.

The Goal is set on top of the Tree where it is very visible and symbolically well placed so that everybody know on what to focus. The Goal statement should make sense and be understood by everyone. The Goal is the reason why the organization exists, so being member of the organization obviously requires accepting the Goal and committing to achieve it.

The array of underlying objectives, called Necessary Conditions (NCs), should be verbalized in a clear and specific way. This is verified when building the Tree and checking it with the Categories of Legitimate Reservations (CLR), which also ensure the overall logical robustness of the Tree.

Many of these Necessary Conditions are not fulfilled when the Tree is built (otherwise the Goal would be achieved..!) and fulfilling them is the challenged required by Goal-Setting Theory. A decent share of these NCs will be difficult enough to keep contributors motivated.

In the same way, some necessary skills may not be mastered, thus giving opportunity to learn or find by-passes.

The periodic reviews of the Tree status give opportunities for feedback and benchmarking, as well as appraisal or eyebrows frowning.

Wrapping-up

Going through the requirements of the Goal-Setting Theory, the Goal Tree is not only compliant, but allow the whole (often strategic) intent to be stated in a clear logical way. Reading a Goal Tree is reading the storybook.

If Goal-Setting Theory needed a tool, the Goal Tree is the one.

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