Future Reality Trees – Steps to Construct
In the last blog we discussed the basic principles of the Future Reality Tree (FRT). In this section we will discuss the necessary steps to construct an FRT.
Steps to Construct.
The following steps provide the intrinsic order of thinking when constructing an FRT. It is best to follow in the order given to construct the best possible tree.
Step 1 - Define the function of the Future Reality Tree.
When constructing an FRT it is always best to define the function. In other words, “why are you constructing the tree?” A Future Reality Tree can be used to construct a full solution that you want to implement. It can also be used to test an idea (yours or someone else's) or to present the merits of an idea to someone else. When you focus on what role you want this technique to be used for, then the remaining analysis will be more relevant.
Step 2 - Capture the idea.
There can be a significant difference between a “new” idea and a “good” idea. A good idea is one that accomplishes its objectives without creating unwanted negative effects. In this action, the new idea is captured verbally. Again, capture your idea as succinctly and concisely as possible. A single statement that captures clearly what it is you really want to do.
Step 3 - Make a list of potential Desirable and Negative Effects
One thing you want to verbally capture is the desired positive effects that you would like to see happen. The list of desired effects will depend on the type of FRT you are constructing, Suppose you are constructing an FRT to complement a full TOC analysis, then you can use the Undesirable Effects (UDEs) from the CRT as a guide. For example, suppose one of the UDEs from the CRT was “ROI is too low” then the Desired Effect would read: “ROI is high”. Continue building your Desired Effects list until you have listed all, or most, of the things you want.
There may be some expectations, as well as possible concerns about what this idea, once implemented, will accomplish. What you are looking for are the “good” things that will exist when the idea is implemented. Write down the potential positive effects and the potential negative effects (Step 6) of what this idea, once implemented, will cause. Be honest and be logical. Spend the time necessary to filter those emotional statements from the logical statements.
Step 4 - Build the causal connections between the Injection and Desirable Effects.
You are looking for the causal relationship between two of your desirable effects. Can you see a connection between any two entities where one would be sufficient to cause the other? If so, make the connection. If you are using the tree to validate an Injection from a CD, then it is desirable for the Injection to be near the bottom of the tree. What you are looking for are all of the desired effects that will come from the Injection. At this stage, continue to look for, and connect the other causal links between the Injection and the Desirable Effects. In the course of constructing the tree it is very possible you will surface additional desirable effects not on your original list. It is also possible that you will add additional Injections to take care of the potential Negative Effects.
Step 5 - Strengthen your analysis.
A powerful outcome from constructing an FRT is to look for the positive reinforcing loops. In other words, those things that, through time, just continue to keep happening These positive loops help ensure that the solution will work the way you want it to over and over again.
Apply the Categories of Legitimate Reservation (CLR’s) and strengthen the logic. Are there additional positive effects (Predicted Effects)? Is there additional cause required to make something happen (Injection)? Full scrutiny with the CLR’s will result in a powerful and useful FRT.
Step 6 - Actively Seek Negative Branches
This is probably one of the most important aspects and outcomes from an FRT – looking for the Negative Branches or Negative Effects from your idea. Don’t be frustrated and think that your idea won’t work because you found a negative effect. Quite the opposite is true. It now provides an opportunity to know that a negative effect is possible and allows the chance to inject with an additional idea to keep the negative effect from happening. It’s much better to attack it now and have a way to overcome, than wait until it is actually implemented. It’s part of the necessary planning. Applying the Negative Branch technique helps ensure that the medicine is not worse than the disease. If you don't find and resolve the negative effects as part of your solution, the negative effects will appear in reality--and be much more difficult to solve.
Once you have completed the FRT and discovered the best idea that you want to move forward with, the next question becomes “What stops me from doing this right now?” In the next blog we will discuss the Prerequisite Tree (PRT). The PRT is used to define and overcome the obstacles that seem to be stopping the implementation of your good idea.
Bruce H. Nelson