In this video I invite you to follow my presentation of an existing (already built) Current Reality Tree (CRT) and check its logical soundness, what we call scrutinizing. Should you find any flaw of logic, you may share it whether in the comments of this blog or on my YouTube channel.
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.
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.
What about necessity-based logic?
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.
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.
Here is a reader’s question: I have difficulty seeing the difference between the Goal Tree and the Current Reality Tree (CRT). With these two trees we assess the process. What are the main differences between the two?
The Goal Tree and Current Reality Tree (CRT) have nothing in common. They are not even meant to care about processes but about the system as a whole. Neither the Goal Tree nor the CRT are process maps.
A Goal Tree lists all Necessary Conditions to achieve a Goal, which is not yet achieved, so it is about the future.
The CRT describes why the Goal is not yet achieved in the current state. It starts with identified Undesirable Effects (undesirable for the system as a whole) and drills down to the few critical root causes.
A Goal Tree is built from top-to-bottom with necessity logic while the Current Reality Tree (CRT) is built from top-to-bottom using sufficiency logic. This building top-to-bottom is maybe the sole commonality between the two.
To learn more about the differences between necessity and sufficiency logic, check out my post: Goal Tree Chronicles – Enablers vs.triggers
The name Current Reality Tree is somewhat misleading because the CRT is limited to the description of the negative outcomes. It does not describe all the Current Reality. This is saving a lot of unnecessary analysis as well as a warning to not mess with what is currently producing Desired Effects!
What could have caused some confusion to my reader is the fact that a Goal Tree is a benchmark against which to measure the gaps in current reality.
When doing this I use a 3-color code to indicate each Necessary Conditions status. I assess the current condition of the system with the Goal Tree as benchmark. The first autumnal-colored tree should be kept as is as a snapshot of the situation at the beginning. Distinct trees are used later to monitor the progress of ‘greening’ the tree, i.e. closing the gaps to achieve the Goal.
I hope this helps to understand the differences between a Goal Tree and a Current Reality Tree.
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”…
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.Follow @HOHMANN_Chris
Paris June 28th, 2017. The 6-day Logical Thinking Process Training Course with Bill Dettmer is just over. We asked the participants not in a hurry to rush to an airport or train station if they would share their thoughts about the course in front of a camcorder?
Cédric, Sverre and Leo were so kind. Bill asked them about their favorite takeaways and advices for people willing to take the course.
As a veteran with 5 attendances (being part of the organizing party) I delivered my testimony long ago, however, I reflected on what I would say now.
My favorite part of the course changed over the sessions, which is understandable with all that repeat. Now my favorite part is working hands-on on trees, cross presenting them and have them scrutinized. That’s the closest we can get in a room session while working on somebody’s real-world case.
This brings me to my advice: come prepared (read the pre-course reading material) and have a real-world problem to work on. The best is a problem with which the participant has enough inside knowledge and enough influence – if not power – to make change happen.
What happens during the course?
This last June 2017 session was in my opinion a good one because the cases were mostly about founding a new business, spinning-off from actual one, or trying to reinvigorate an existing fading one.
With entrepreneur spirit and most of the options open, the Goal Tree was piece of cake. Well it seemed to be piece of cake. Once in front of a large empty sheet of brown paper and a demanding mentor in the back, the candidate entrepreneurs had to turn their brilliant idea in a compelling and robust Goal Tree.
The Current Reality Tree (CRT) brought most of them back into their unsatisfactory actual state, but at least with clear understanding of what causes the Undesirable Effects (UDEs). Conflicting objectives or decisions were uncovered and creativity called in to dissolve the conflicts.
Logical Thinking Process / Theory of Constraints’ Thinking Processes aware readers recognize the Evaporating Cloud (EC) to do that.
On the group went, injecting solutions into their current reality in order to turn the UDEs into Desirable Effects (DEs). This was done thanks to the Future Reality Tree (FRT), a kind of logical (and virtual) proof of concept to test the solutions.
Bill instructed the group to look for possible Negative Branches that may grow out of a seemingly brilliant idea and end up in a new and unexpected UDE. When such a branch is spotted, the trainee can be happy to have tested the solution on paper before messing up in real world! Luckily there are ways to trim such unwanted negative branches and it’s part of the training.
The final exercise is to list the possible obstacles to implementation and overcome them with a Prerequisite Tree.
Five trees per attendant gives a lot to review and scrutinize! And just as many learning opportunities!
In this excerpt of day one from the 6-day Logical Thinking Process training course, Bill Dettmer explains that the very front end, the two first tools (Goal Tree and Current Reality Tree) are deterministic, based on facts. The other steps and tools are about future, which can only be based on probabilities.
At the end of this short video, Bill gives his definition of the Logical Thinking Process.
First, the two first tools (Trees) of the LTP, namely the Goal Tree (GT) and Current Reality Tree (CRT) are based on facts. The others, Evaporating Cloud (EC), Future Reality Tree (FRT), Prerequisite Tree (PRT) are based on high probability things will happen as planned.
The components of a Goal Tree, called Necessary Conditions (or NCs) are factual needs necessary to achieve the Goal. The Current Reality is described in a CRT in a way that can be checked and proven, based on facts.
As soon as the people are working on the future, from Evaporating Cloud on, it can only be described in probabilities, as things may not exactly turn out as planned. Theory of Constraints’ Logical Thinking Process may need to rely on other tools and methods than Negative Branch Reservation (NBR) to mitigate the risks.
Furthermore, the time to accomplish the necessary tasks is an evaluation at best.
Finally Bill summarizes what Logical Thinking Process is:
a structured way to move from an ill-defined system level problem to a fully implemented solution.
The process starts with the famous Goal Tree, assess the current situation and focus on critical root causes with the Current Reality Tree (CRT). Conflict Resolution Diagram (AKA Evaporating Cloud) may be used to resolve conflicting objectives and find solutions (called “injections”) to turn the CRT into a Future Reality Tree (FRT).
But in order to get to the future state, some obstacles will have to be removed or by-passed. This is done with the help of a Prerequisite Tree (PRT).
Once the PRT is ready, it is a kind of logical proof of concept. In order to turn this POC into real action, Bill shows how rotating a Prerequisite Tree gives an almost ready-to-use project network. Therefore, Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) is the sixth tool of the Logical Thinking Process.
By the end of the demonstration, Philip Marris highlights the “beauty” of this process, patching one of Critical Chain Project Management “weaknesses”: how to ensure what is to be executed as a project is meaningful? He does this by giving a sadly funny and true example in aeronautic industry.
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.