What advice to people wanting to experience the Logical Thinking Process Training Course?

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!

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What is Negative Branch Reservation?

Did you experience this utmost frustration when having implemented a solution or countermeasure to a problem, a new issue arises brought up by this fix?

This is what Negative Branch Reservation (NBR) intents to prevent.

Negative Branch Reservation is  a robustness test usually associated with a Future Reality Tree (FRT). It checks what could go wrong in the intended change process in order to anticipate possible negative outcomes.

In a Future Reality Tree, identified Undesirable Effects (UDE) are combined with “injections”, which are solutions or countermeasures to neutralize the UDE, a cure to the pain if you will, hence the name “injection”.

Yet some injections may have negative side effects, opening a chain of causes-and-effects developing what is called a Negative Branch, leading to new UDEs.

How does this happen?

Injections combine themselves with existing reality to produce some effect, this effect is either undesirable by itself or the cause of a new UDE further up the tree as the new effect can combine with existing reality and so on.

Being aware of this risk, Logical Thinking practitioners mitigate it with a scrutinizing technique called Negative Branch Reservation.

How to spot possible Negative Branches?

The search for possible Negative Branches is part of the Future Reality Tree scrutinizing, once the FRT is built. External* scrutinizers are invited to consider each effect entity of the tree and check if another effect can arise then the expected one. This includes the Desired Effects (DE) at the top of the tree.

*not being involved in the construction of the FRT

If somewhere a Negative Branch is likely to grow, the next step is to check if the injection causing it can be replaced by another one, without the negative side effect.

Chances are that the initial injection must be kept as no better alternative is found. In this case, the Negative Branch has to be trimmed.

How to trim Negative Branches?

In order to neutralize the UDE brought up by the Negative Branch, go back to the Branch’s origin and surface the underlying assumptions, using the if…then…because following the arrow from the injection that caused the Negative Branch to grow.

Look for a possible injection to neutralize or minimize the UDE. If none can be found at that spot, move upwards the Negative Branch and repeat the process. At some point an injection will “cure” the UDE.

As the cure for the Negative Branch’s UDE is an injection, this too must be checked for possible new side effects with negative outcome.

The robustness of the Future Reality Tree, and every tree in the Logical Thinking Process, is guaranteed by thorough scrutinizing.


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Rotate a Tree to start your project

During the Logical Thinking Process training course (June 2015), Bill Dettmer took us through the whole process and the associated tools at each step.

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.


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Thinking Processes – Prerequisite Tree

The Prerequisite Tree (PRT) is one of the Logical Thinking Process tools, mentioned among the Thinking Processes by the Theory of Constraints community.

The Prerequisite Tree is used to surface and overcome obstacles to achieving the change towards the organization’s Goal by setting Intermediate Objectives (IOs). These IOs are sequential steps to implementing the change or steps helping to overcome or neutralize the obstacles.

The Prerequisite Tree is a necessity logic-based tree, like the Goal Tree and its building starts from the Goal or objective downwards. The objective may be the result of an injection identified in a prior Future Reality Tree (FRT). The implementation sequence starts from the bottom up to the top as each layer is dependent on the layer underneath.

The underlying IOs are the tasks required for attaining the objective. If Obstacles surface, additional IOs are required to bypass or neutralize them.

IOs are depicted in square cornered boxes while obstacles are depicted as hexagons or “stop signs”.

Prerequisite Tree

Prerequisite Tree

The graphic convention I use is the one recommended by Bill Dettmer, putting the IOs on top of the obstacles they help to overcome. The original convention is to put obstacles on a side between two IOS and link them with an arrow to the arrow linking the IOs.

Prerequisite Tree original design

Prerequisite Tree original design

The Prerequisite Tree is the preparatory work for the coming implementation action plan as well as a useful communication tool and a means to overcome fear and/or resistance to change. Obstacles may be stated in sentences starting with “yes, but…”.

The related Intermediate Objective(s) prove there is a way to neutralize, bypass or overcome the obstacle.

Obstacles may be real, not only reluctance or fear about change. The lack of a specific required know-how is a valid obstacle and the corresponding IO may be hire the needed know-how or develop it by training.


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Logical Thinking Process

LTPThe 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.

Bill Dettmer & Chris Hohmann

Bill Dettmer & Chris Hohmann

*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.

Logical Thinking Process
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.

Jargon!

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.

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Why I don’t like Lean houses, except one

Chris HOHMANN

Chris HOHMANN – Author

I never liked the (Toyota inspired) Lean houses and their many variants. First all these models are generally understood as prescriptive rather than descriptive, thus those new to Lean tend to adopt and copy one model without necessarily understanding its real meaning.

The building blocks of Lean houses are principles, methods and tools, reinforcing the feeling that it’s all about “techniques”.

The house building metaphor also suggests a beginning with sound foundations, robust pillars and when the roof is atop, the organization is done.

We’ll see later it is not in this way.

To add to the confusion, with the broad choice of variants, which is the right one to look at?

The answer should be “the one fitting your purpose, the one you define and build yourself”. But model seekers look for ready-to-use templates, not concepts. So the large choice of variants is more puzzling than guiding. And another bad news: genuine Lean transformation does not come as instant pudding (tribute to W.E. Deming’s quote).

I kept ignoring those houses until I saw John Shook’s new interpretation of the Lean House.

In this model, called the Lean transformation model, there is no prescription, only five questions corresponding to the roof, the pillars, the center and the foundations.

It strangely starts with the roof, because this is what you’re striving for, your Goal. All you will build is done in order to achieve your Goal, the purpose of the organisation.

The first pillar is process improvement and it answers the question about how to change current condition in order for the purpose to become true, how the change has to be conducted?

The second pillar is about capability development, answering the question about how to give people the means and know-how to conduct the change?

Both pillars are necessary for continuous improvement. No point kaizen, kaizen events and the like, real continuous improvement through experimenting and learning to solve problems.

In the center of the house, a character represents management and leadership behaviors and the question is: what management and leadership behaviors do you need in order to make the change happen?

The foundation is made of mindset, the basic beliefs and assumptions. Not the current ones but the new mindset, the basic beliefs and assumptions necessary to make the change happen.

For more details about this model, you may read my other post and watch the embedded video.

What I like with this model is the fact it is really generic: the 5 questions apply to any kind of organization. Furthermore, asking questions leads to build a specific house, a model designed for your purpose and not someone else’s model.

Another reason why I like this model is its convergence with the Logical Thinking Process. When I hear John Shook presenting his model, I “see” a Goal Tree and a Future Reality Tree, bridging Lean and Theory of Constraints. For more about this, read my post: Lean transformation model as TP trees


Read Michel Baudin’s answer to this post: http://michelbaudin.com/2016/09/02/why-i-dont-like-lean-houses-except-one-christian-hohmann-linkedin-pulse/


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Thinking Processes – Future Reality Tree

Chris HOHMANN

Chris HOHMANN – Author

A Future Reality Tree (FRT), as the name suggests is a visualization of a desired, improved future state. It answers the question “What to change?” Or “change to what?”. The Future Reality Tree is one of the Thinking Processes or Thinking Process tools.

A FRT usually follows an analysis with a Current Reality Tree (CRT) and an Evaporating Cloud (EC), also known as Conflict Resolution Diagram (CRD), the latter is not systematic.

Thus the FRT turns the Undesirable Effects (UDEs) identified with the CRT into Desirable Effects (DEs) by combining the real causes of UDEs with injections, which are entities (actions or conditions) that do not yet exist, but which are necessary to correct the current state, turning it into desirable future condition or target.

Injections are a cure to Undesirable Effects when combined to the cause of UDEs. Injections are always entry points (they do not have a cause) and are distinguished from others entities by their square corners.

A FRT is recognizable by the basic structure of a cause AND an injection linking to a Desirable Effect. In the example below (French) the injections are lined in blue in order to highlight them. Numbered entities are UDEs from the Current Reality Tree.

In this FRT, two injections create positive reinforcement loops (right side).

A Future Reality Tree depicts the could-be future, but does not give all the answers about how to get there, how to close the gap between the Current Reality and the Future Reality. Therefore, two more tools or processes are provided: the Prerequisite Tree (PRT) and Transition Tree (TT).

References

  • Fedurko, Jelena (2011) Behind the Cloud, enhancing logical thinking, TOC strategic solutions
  • Dettmer, H. W., (1997) Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints: a systems approach to continuous improvement. ASQC Quality Press
  • Scheinkopf, L., (1999) Thinking for a change: putting the TOC thinking processes to use. St Lucie Press/APICS

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Bending the Current Reality Tree

The Current Reality Tree (CRT) is one of the Theory of Constraints (ToC) Thinking Processes (TP) tools. A CRT is built on Undesirable Effects (UDEs) linked by logical cause-effect-cause relationship called “sufficiency”. Sufficiency logic relationship is in the form of “if A is true then B is true”, or “if A exists, then B exists”.

>Lisez-moi en français

A CRT describes the reality, lists the issues that hinders the system / organization to have better throughput.

Building a CRT in the orthodoxical way follows strict rules and good practices. Among the good practices is the one that recommends the CRT has to be built with all stakeholders and then checked for “legitimate reservation”.

I used the CRT in an unorthodox way once during an assignment, thus this post title “bending the Current Reality Tree”.

It was during a quite strange and difficult assignment in which we couldn’t get the organisation chart nor key figures but had to find out the causes of all troubles and recommend solutions nevertheless. The CEO was against the consultants, but the COO could made him agree to let us make a pre-diagnosis.

Puzzled about how to go on, I had an intuition during the managers’ interviews: write down all UDEs they would mention and try to build a CRT afterwards.

The interviews were one manager a time and we had no opportunity to have a CRT building workshop with all of them.

I collected 347 UDEs of all kind and started to sort them out in relevant categories. This sorting led to 23 categories holding all the UDEs.

Then, instead of trying to combine all the UDEs in a single tree, I built trees according to how UDEs formed links between themselves and ended up with 6 trees on following topics:

  1. Management
  2. Information Technologies
  3. Marketing
  4. R&D
  5. Overall performance
  6. Misc.

These trees helped me and my team to structure the results of the interviews and analysis. CRTs are great tools to describe the current situation as they “tell the story”.

We used the posters with the trees to debrief top management. These posters were no artwork, not very nice made: the paper sheet was the paperboard’s or brown paper and each UDE was a strip of paper printed out from my Excel file I used to order the UDEs. Nevertheless, their value was in the content, not the design.

The posters were pinned on the wall and the audience could freely walk around to read the content. People were glad to see their verbatim captured and taken into account, in an anonymous way, ordered and displayed in a logical arrangement they could understand and agree.

Summing-up

The deviations vs. CRT building:

  • no preparatory boundaries check e.g. what is in the scope, what influence a manager have on the UDEs..
  • building the tree alone after UDEs’ collecting, not in group with stakeholders, thus the trees reflected only the consultant’s point of view and understanding
  • no validity check via Categories of Legitimate Reservation
  • no cross reading except with my colleagues
  • did not use round corner boxes

What was complying to the CRT building methodology:

  • UDE clarity check. I sometimes rephrased the original stance to disambiguate or for the sake of clarity. Clarity was also checked with my colleagues
  • Sufficiency logic check, UDEs were only linked if the sufficiency condition was met

This somewhat unorthodox use of the CRT helped us to better understand the causes of the overall situation and to feed it back to the company’s management. Our audience had no problem with the deviation as they did not know about CRTs anyway.

The assignment did not get further than this pre-diagnosis. Our trees were left at client’s, up to managers to reuse them. If the assignment would have continued and led to an improvement project, it is probable that the trees would have been used as CRTs to work out Future Reality Trees, this time in a more conventional way; in workgroups.

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How deep should a Goal Tree go?

When breaking down the Goal into Critical Success Factors (CSFs) and Necessary Conditions (NCs), the question soon arises: how deep should we dig to build the Goal Tree?

There is no general answer to this question except: as deep as necessary to serve your purpose and as deep as necessary for you to feel comfortable with. Which is not very helpful to beginners.

In order to give more practical advice, let’s consider two cases:

  1. Goal Tree used to (re)define a strategy at executive level, used with the Logical Thinking Process
  2. Goal Tree used at any level as a stand-alone tool, with an action plan

1. Goal Tree used to (re)define a strategy at executive level

Dettmer introduced the Goal Tree as a logically sound and robust benchmark prior to assess the Current Reality and work to solve the problems that hinder the organization achieving its Goal. It starts with the Goal, which is a lighthouse guiding all initiatives and onto which to align all contributions. The Goal Tree is therefore the first logical tree to be built in the process called… Logical Thinking Process.

Logical Thinkng Process

The Goal, purpose or “big picture” is defined by the system owner, the founder(s) or those having delegate power to lead the organization toward its Goal. These top most executives may not want nor have time to be dragged down into each detail of all the Necessary Conditions for the Goal to be achieved.

Therefore they will be highly interested in the answer to the question how deep should a Goal Tree go?

The answer: In order to feed the Current Reality Tree, the Goal, the 3 to 5 Critical Success Factors and the two layers of NCs beneath them are enough. All of them will become entities of the CRT.

Indeed, experience confirms that going this deep is enough. The CRT building methodology helps finding the critical root cause(s) and the links between all these entities. As neither the Goal nor CSFs nor the few high level NCs are achieved yet, the building of the CRT starts by expressing the Undesirable Effects (UDEs), which are deviations from the desired achievement. Logical analysis leads to the Critical Root Cause(s) without needing a complete detailed Goal Tree.

Even it is not required, if someone feels more comfortable with a more detailed Goal Tree and can afford the time building it, let him/her go for it.

2. Goal Tree used at any level as a stand-alone tool

A Goal Tree can be used as a stand-alone tool and one does not need to go through the whole Logical Thinking Process for preparing an action plan. This could be the case of a new activity starting from scratch in which no previous existing state has to be improved. It can also be a project for which all elements are represented in a Goal Tree and the Tree is used to check the completeness of the tasks and Necessary Conditions envisioned. Finally it can be an improvement in a department or organization in which there are no major complex problems to solve, not requiring to go through the whole LTP.

In such cases, how deep should the Goal Tree go?

Well, basically a Goal Tree is not limited, but soon practical limits will surface, starting with the number of CSFs. I keep recommending to limit CSF to five, which are sufficient in most cases.

>Read more about defining CSFs

Soon, the limited number of CSFs will lead to a fair number of first level NCs, followed by an even greater number of level 2 NCs and so forth.

Goal Tree

The number of levels or depth of the tree depend how fast the breakdown reaches the trivia level. In an established business there is no need to describe what is the very essence of it.

For example in manufacturing it is not necessary to set “master milling techniques” or “have expertise in wave soldering” if it’s already part of the daily operations.

It is different when a new manufacturing way is envisioned, as for example manufacturing parts not by cutting material away but adding it, like in 3D printing for example. If these new techniques are not yet known within the company, acquiring them and mastering them may be set as Necessary Conditions.

In general, digging deeper into NCs is meaningless once the NCs do not provide helpful Intermediate Objectives to align contributions anymore.

Being too specific makes the Goal Tree difficult to maintain and giving too many precise requirements to staff reduces the interest in the job as everything seems to be prescribed. Conversely, giving higher level objectives to staff and asking them to work out the plan to achieve them is motivating and helps buy-in as staff gets involved in the project definition.

>Read more about Goal Tree as vehicle for change management

There is no absolute limit nor any general recommendation about depth of Goal Tree, except people must be comfortable with.

Cascading objectives in an organization

When cascading objectives in an organization, my rule of thumb is to try limiting to five or six levels deep: Top management sets the CSFs, head of departments the first and second level of NCs, middle management the next two or three levels of NCs.


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Lean transformation model as TP trees

The only “lean house” I like is LEI’s Lean transformation model presented by John Shook. Unlike other houses or “temples”, this one does not suggest a generic template to be copied but a framework to define one’s own Lean transformation.

When I first listened to John Shook’s explanations, I “saw” Theory of ConstraintsLogical Thinking Processes (TP) Trees behind them. Especially a Goal Tree which describes all Necessary Conditions to fulfill in order to achieve the Goal.

Transforming an organization the Lean Way is the Goal. In order to achieve this Goal, John Shook lists 5 Critical Success Factors, five high-end outcome without which there is no way to achieve the Goal:

Each Critical Success Factor is dependent on underlying Necessary Conditions. The logical relationship between entities is base on necessity and it reads “in order to… we must…”.

John Shook gives the first layers of rather generic ones. From then on, in order to customize the Lean transformation (and the Goal Tree), the Necessary Conditions must be farther broken down.


The Logical Thinking Process provides one other tool which I “saw” in John Shook’s presentation: a Future Reality Tree. In this tree, the logical relationship between entities is not based on necessity (in order… we must…) but on sufficiency or cause-effect (if A exists then B exists).

Unlike a Goal Tree starting from the top, the Future Reality Tree reading starts from its bottom.

It reads like this:

  • IF Lean culture is our foundation AND IF we have supporting leadership behavior as well as management system THEN we develop people capabilities.
  • IF we develop people capabilities AND IF we have supporting leadership behavior as well as management system THEN we have continuous improvement.
  • IF we have continuous improvement AND IF we have a True North THEN we have a Lean transformation.

The Lean transformation Goal Tree is a way to explore all Necessary Conditions to achieve it, while a Lean Transformation Future Reality Tree is more a logical demonstration of how if will happen.


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