Sunday, March 17, 2013

Focus and Leverage Part 192B

I apologize for the delay in posting the second half of the Categories of Legitimate Reservation (CLR), but here it is.  The CLR’s set the stage for the development of the Thinking Process Tools such as the Current Reality Tree (CRT).


The Cause Insufficiency reservation challenges the assumption that a single cause is sufficient to cause an effect.  The stated cause may be a partial statement or partial reason why and effect exists, but it is not sufficient by itself to cause the effect.  Let’s walk through an example.




In the above example A we challenge the assumption that the cause for the downturn in sales is because the competitor has improved their product.  The fact is there could be other reason for the downturn and not just because the competitor improved.  There could also be reasons the the competitor offers a lower price, or perhaps has perceived higher quality, both of which could cause a downturn in sales.  If could also be that “we have not improved our product” to keep up with customer needs.

The point here is that in example A the reason are sales are going down is probably caused by more than just our competitor improving their product.  This statement is most likely part of the cause but, not the entire cause for the effect.  In example B we have added another cause which makes it much more probable to achieve the known effect.  The ellipse added to the arrows is the logical AND statement.  If entity 1 AND entity 2 then, the effect.  Neither of the bottom two entities are sufficient, by themselves, to cause the effect but, when both causes are present (there could even be more causes) then it is much more probable to achieve the effect.  A reminder of caution; There can be a tendency to abuse cause insufficiency by trying to be so fractal in the thinking that the message becomes unclear as to what is really meant.  In other words, trying to add so much detail in the causes that it becomes unclear what the message really is.


There are times when a single cause is sufficient to cause an effect.  But, there can also be times when an effect can also be caused by an Additional Cause.  In other words, each cause by itself can be sufficient to create the effect.  The caution is using the Additional Cause reservation is that the additional cause must be relevant and have a scale of effect at least equal to the already stated cause. Just adding additional causes because you can is discouraged. However, adding additional cause because you must is highly encouraged.  Let’s walk through an example and understand how this works.

In example A, the cause of a downturn in the economy is sufficient to cause the sales to go downward as stated.  In the example B we propose an Additional Cause that could also cause sales to go downward.  Each cause is independent of each other but, each can cause the effect independently. Therefore, these entities and arrows are not connected with the “AND” statement (ellipse).  We could also add an additional cause such as, “Congress has not approved a budget.”  As true as that statement might be it is also possible it outside the relevancy for what your tree is trying to accomplish. Hence the desire to add additional causes because you can (discouraged), rather than because you must (encouraged).



The Clarity reservation can be used on arrows and also with the words in an entity statement.  Sometimes it can make a significant difference with an entity statement to verbalize correctly the words within an entity.  As an example, suppose we had written an entity cause statement claiming “All employees are frustrated with the situation.”  It might be possible to use the Causality Existence reservation and determine that not “ALL” employees are frustrated!  By changed the clarity of the entity statement and changing the word “All” to “many” or “some, or “most” the meaning is significantly altered.  Instead of “All” Employees being frustrated what we really meant was only some, or many or a few are frustrated.

Anytime you have a reservation about an entity statement or the arrows between entities it is important to ask for Clarity and determine exactly what the proposer meant by his or her statement or arrow.  The assumption to invalidate is that everyone is clear and knows exactly what is being said.


Tautological logic is also known as circular logic.  In others, the cause determines the effect, and the effect circles around and determines the cause.  The logic goes no direction except in a circle.  Some examples are: “if our team lost the game… then, they played poorly.”  So, you might asked “What caused tem to play poorly?”  The response is most likely “Because they lost, didn’t they?”

Most often it is warranted to be suspicion of tautology when using the when using the Causality Existence reservation.  If it is difficult, or impossible, to verify another effect from a single cause you most likely have an intangible–cause supported by only a single effect.  If that happens be very suspicious of a circular logic situation.


The primary function of the CLR’s is to seek understanding about what is being presented.  The CLR’s should not be used as a tool, or method, to ridicule, intimidate, or worse belittle someone based on what they are presenting.

In a group you first challenge is – seek to understand.  This can best be accomplished using the CLR’s wisely to make sure you understand what someone else is saying

Your second challenge is – seek to be understood.  If, and when, you do have a reservation, seek to be understood and explain your reservation in a non-threating way.  If you happens to raise and additional cause reservation, or perhaps a Cause Insufficiency reservation you must be prepared to offer any additional cause(s) and explain the cause insufficiency as you see it.


As you might be able to tell by now the understanding and correct application of the CLR’s is a crucial component of any Thinking Process analysis.  Most of the time, it is very noticeable to discern which Thinking Process trees have been correctly subjected to the CLR’s and which one haven’t.  When a tree has been properly constructed and scrutinized the smoothness of flow and clarity floats to the surface.  This is usually most evident when reading a tree to a person or group and what you notice is that the people just shake theirs heads in agreement.  If, by chance, you notice someone with a puzzled look stop and make sure they understand what is being said.
In our next posting we will lay out a case study for a company and see how to develop a current reality tree.


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