Friday, May 17, 2013

Focus and Leverage Part 211

Now that you’ve been through a full systems thinking analysis, you can see, at times, how involved and difficult it can be for many people. In fact, many people who have gone through the full TOC Jonah training sessions have come away feeling a bit overwhelmed and sometimes feeling like they simply don’t know where or how to begin.  And even if they do know where to begin, they sometimes are overcome by feelings of uneasiness on their ability to complete a full TP analysis.  Add to this how difficult it is sometimes to convince your company’s leadership to block out several days to perform such an analysis and you probably feel like not even recommending it.

What if there was a way to arrive at some or most of the same conclusions as the full TP analysis without actually going through a full analysis?  What if there was another logic diagram that was easy to learn and construct and one that wouldn’t fill you with anxiety and uneasiness?  Guess what friends, there is such a tool that is both easy to learn and requires only a fraction of the time it takes to do a full TP analysis!!  Over the next few series of postings Bruce and I are going to walk you through how to construct and use this tool.  We’ve written about it in many other postings, but this time we’ll use it in a case study setting to add relevance to it.  The tool I’m referring to is the Intermediate Objectives Map (IO Map) and as we said, even though it has been the subject of other postings, we want to present it in a slightly different light.  But before we do, let’s review the basics of the IO Map.

If you’re like us, you might have gone through a full Jonah course and learned (or at least studied) all of the TOC Thinking Process tools.  Not all Jonah training sessions include the IO Map, but it was included for us.  The IO Map stood out for us because of its simplicity and ease of use.  Since then we have used the IO Map in a wide assortment of industries and in every single instance the leadership team not only understood it, they emphatically embraced it.  The real strength of the IO Map is that on a single document you will have listed everything that must be in place to achieve the goal of the organization.  No other tool does so with such ease and in such a short time frame.

Bill Dettmer, who has written extensively about the IO Map, explained to us that his first exposure to the IO Map dated back to 1995 during a management skills workshop conducted by Oded Cohen from the Goldratt Institute.  In more recent years, Dettmer has recommended that the IO Map, which he now calls a Goal Tree, should be included as the first step in a Thinking Process analysis.  He explains that this is because the Goal tree defines the standard for goal attainment and its prerequisites in a much more efficient and well-organized manner.  We believe that the IO Map is perhaps the best focusing tool to better demonstrate why an organization is having problems achieving its goal.  Other advantages of using an IO Map include a better integration of the rest of the TP tools that will accelerate the completion of Current Reality Trees, Conflict Clouds and Future Reality Trees.  Although both Bruce and I believe that Bill Dettmer is absolutely correct in recommending the IO Map be used in conjunction with the other TP tools, the other thing we like about IO Maps is that they can be used as a stand-alone tool.  We believe that using it in this manner will result in a much faster analysis of the organization’s weak points or areas that an organization should focus their improvement efforts.  In the next few postings we will discuss the IO Map as a stand-alone tool.

When we use the logic based TOC Thinking Process tools there are two distinctly different types of logic at play, sufficiency and necessity type logic.  Sufficiency type logic is quite simply a series of if-then statements.  If I have “x”, then I have “y”.  On the other hand, necessity-based logic trees use the syntax, “in order to have “x”……I must have “y.” The IO Map falls into the necessity-based category.  For example, in order to have a fire, I must have a fuel source, a spark and air which are called Critical Success Factors (CSF’s).  If the goal is to have a fire, you must have all three components in place.  If you remove one of the CSF’s, you simply will not have a fire.

The hierarchical structure of the IO Map consists of a single Goal, several Critical Success Factors (CSF’s) which must be in place to achieve the goal and a series of Necessary Conditions (NC’s) which must be in place to achieve each CSF. The Goal and CSFs are written as terminal outcomes as though they were already in place while the NC’s are written more as activities which result in each of the CSF’s.  In our next posting we will use a fictitious setting to construct an IO Map and then begin discussing how we can use it to develop an improvement plan.
Bob Sproull

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