Transition Tree (TT)
Remember when we began this series of posts on the TOC Thinking Process tools we said there were three questions that must be answered: 1. What to change? using the Current Reality Tree and Conflict Diagram. 2. What to change to? using the Future Reality Tree and 3. How to cause the change to happen? We’ve answered the first two questions and now it’s time to answer the final one.
In a previous posting we presented the Prerequisite Tree (PRT). The PRT is the first tool used to help us determine “How to cause the change to happen.” In a global sense the PRT is used to help determine the overall strategy of “How to cause the change to happen.” The strategy defines what Intermediate Objectives (IO) are needed to accomplish the goal and in what order to accomplish them. Once the IO’s are known and the intrinsic order is established, then it’s time to implement. For most of the IO’s it might seem obvious exactly what needs to be done to make them happen. For other IO’s the steps to accomplish them might not be so obvious. For those IO’s without a clear path forward it will become necessary to construct a tactical plan to accomplish the IO. Hence, the benefit and purpose of the Transition Tree (TT) is to determine the tactical steps necessary to accomplish the IO’s and, in turn, accomplish the overall strategy of the PRT.
Transition Tree (TT)
The PRT structure is sufficiency based logic (If A…then, B). It is the thinking process used to construct the tactical actions required to achieve a specific IO and provides the detailed answer(s) to the question, ”How do I cause the change to happen.” As the fifth and final thinking tool the TT is often overlooked. However, it should be noted that the TT is an excellent standalone tool when used in isolation. For the sake of this discussion we will be using the TT as a continuum for a full systems thinking analysis as applied to a single IO from the PRT.The square cornered boxes represent Actions to be taken by you, or someone else. The round cornered boxes represent entities that currently exist, or will exist, when the action(s) is/are taken and completed. The end result of the TT is a time sequenced plan of Actions and Desired Outcomes. The causality on the arrows implies sufficiency – not time.
Building the TTThe TT provides the detailed description of the Desired Outcomes (DO) that will help us gradually evolve the changes we envision to occur in reality by accomplishing the Defined Actions. It is possible, in a full systems analysis, that the TT may be necessary for more than a single IO in a PRT. If you read an IO in the PRT and understand the necessary steps to accomplish the IO, then a TT is probably not necessary. If you don’t understand what to do, then a TT will provide some answers.
The TT has four elements.
1. Objective – The purpose of the TT. What is it you want to accomplish? (For our discussion this will be an IO from the PRT)2. Action – An activity that leads towards the accomplishment of the objective.
3. Desired Outcome – The planned target of the action. What you want an action to accomplish.
4. Need – The reason an action must be taken to achieve a Desired Outcome.
First Step-TTFor this discussion, the first step to develop a TT is to define a particular IO from the PRT which might seem especially difficult or troublesome to accomplish. By completing the PRT we know that the listed IO’s must exist, as necessary conditions, to accomplish the PRT Objective, i.e., “In order to have IO A … I must have IO B.” The IO’s in the PRT can only become part of reality if they can be accomplished! If a particular IO cannot be achieved, and it is a necessary condition (base of the arrow) to achieve a different IO (tip of the arrow), then the IO at the tip of the arrow cannot be accomplished if the necessary condition is absent.
Because of its structure the TT is sometimes affectionately known as the “Backbone and Ribs.” This nickname comes from the fact that most of the Desired Outcomes (DO) are aligned in a column with the Actions and Needs feeding the DO’s.
In the case of the DOME Company PRT, there are several IO’s listed. Any one of them could cause some degree of difficulty in trying to accomplish and some might even appear as projects within themselves! Let’s pick one and go through the step of building a TT. For our discussion we will pick IO-11 to build a TT. State the objective – in this case IO-11.
If we look at the objective and ask “What actions will be required to achieve the objective” we can build a list of those actions.
2. Make a presentation to get management approval.
3. Have the staff available to create the training.
4. Conduct the training.
What need are you trying to fill by taking action number 1? What would be the desired outcome from taking this action?