Thursday, December 30, 2010

Focus and Leverage Part 26

Future Reality Trees - Basic Principles

In the last blog we discussed using the CD to break the assumptions of a conflict. When you break an assumption you create an injection or idea. The injection is something that if it existed, then the assumption would be broken and the conflict is resolved. It is possible to generate several different ideas, each sufficient to resolve the conflict. The choice now becomes which injections do you want to pursue – which one gives you the best results? We use the Future Reality Tree (FRT) to test these ideas.

A Future Reality Tree is a sufficiency-based logic structure that is used to check ideas. It is possible that an idea that has good possibilities for success might also contain some flaws or negative effects. Knowing that some bad can co-exist with the good is probably why the common technique used to evaluate an idea/decision is a list of pros and cons. This technique isn't all bad. Unfortunately, it does not provide enough information as a means of systematically elevating your idea to create a good solution nor does it enable you to check if the "pros" will really result from the idea. The FRT first validates that the selected idea will lead to the desired results. If it doesn't, the idea is supplemented with additional injections until all desired results are achieved. Then, the FRT uses any potential problems (negative effects) of an idea as a means to improve the idea instead of a reason for dismissing it.

The Future Reality Tree is based upon three fundamental assumptions:
1) It is better to know what the idea yields before acting on it.
2) The future is predictable to the extent that current causalities are understood.
3) Negative side effects, as long as they are determined before the idea is implemented, provide the means for improving the idea.

In many ways the Future Reality Tree is a simulation model for ideas. It simulates the system to react to an idea with no limits on the number of ideas that can be simultaneously tested. Using the FRT, the existence of Injections (ideas) is assumed and their inevitable effects are predictable using well-scrutinized cause-effect-cause relationships. Usually, single injections are insufficient to cause the desired effects, but during the process of building the FRT additional Injections can be discovered that are needed in order to reach the desired result.

Sometimes a brilliant idea can turn sour. Has it ever happened that what seemed like a good idea produced less than the anticipated results? What seemed to be a good idea in the beginning quickly starts to generate some negative effects? The old adage that: “too many times the medicine is more harmful than the disease” could very well true.

Remember, as a sufficiency based structure the tree is read “If the base of the arrow, then the tip of the arrow” and the ellipse represents a logical “and” statement. The additional injections noted in the example tree are the ideas you have generated along the way to keep your good idea on track and stable. Those additional things that must exist in order for your idea to work.

Future Reality Tree

Future Reality tree can be used for:
• Testing the merits of ideas before taking action.
• Construct a solution that yields a high degree of assurance that the existing undesirable effects will be eliminated without creating devastating new ones.
• Check for and prevent potential negative ramifications of an idea.
• Build a Strategic plan.
• Verbalize and communicate a vision.

Building an FRT can take some time to construct, but a good FRT is worth the effort. It is always better to test your ideas before implementation rather then find out after the fact that the idea wasn’t so good. It’s a way, if you will; to view your idea in “Fast Forward” and make sure you like the end results. If you don’t like the results, and you can’t come up with additional injections to nullify the negative effects, then go back and select another idea to implement.

In the next blog we will discuss the Steps to construct an FRT and look for the positive and negative effects that can come from ideas.

Bruce H. Nelson

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