I have written about Goal Trees (a.k.a. Intermediate Objectives Maps) numerous times on my blog, but because I have some new thinking, or maybe thinking I haven’t written about here before, the next few postings will be a about how I am using Goal Trees. I want to state up-front that H. William Dettmer (Bill) must be given the utmost credit for developing this wonderful tool and I encourage all of you to read some of the remarkable insights Bill has given to the world at large. In my humble opinion, Bill Dettmer is probably the most knowledgeable person in the world today in terms of how the Thinking Process Tools should be effectively used. This statement is not meant to diminish the rest of the TOC gurus, but rather to acknowledge that Bill’s thinking is more in line with how I approach improvement efforts.
I guess what I’m try to say is that Dettmer’s teachings have shaped my approach to organizational improvement more than anyone else in the world and I am forever indebted to him. I also want to state up-front that I am a Jonah and not a Jonah’s Jonah. A Jonah is someone who has gone through the Jonah training course and either did or did not become certified through the TOCICO certification process. On the other hand, a Jonah’s Jonah is someone who is certified to teach the Jonah course. I fall into the category of someone who has received the training, but did not become certified. So if you are having trouble using the TP tools as part of a system’s thinking analysis, then this series of postings might be helpful to you.
I remember struggling through the Jonah course, but I finished it and felt good that I had done so. I also remember struggling with using the TP tools in that it took so very long to run through a full TP analysis. Like many others, I wasn’t very good at applying what I had learned. I mean I used the Current Reality Tree (CRT) and the Conflict Resolution Diagram (CRD) routinely, but it terms of tying all of the tools together to undertake a full system analysis, I wasn’t very successful. And as good as Bill Dettmer and my co-author of Epiphanized, Bruce Nelson are, they have both reported that the teams they taught had difficulty arriving at the same core problems. Dettmer has reported that the big hurdle he has observed was that most people had a difficult time with the CRT. It seems as though he had different students from the same organization working on the same system problem independently and each of them saw their organization’s problems somewhat differently. And although there were commonalities, they reached different statements of the organization’s core problem. Dettmer goes on to say that “this is a problem for any method that purports to be rational and scientific because the CRT is all about problem definition.” I witnessed these same problems during my TP training.
When I was first introduced to the Goal Tree, or as it was referred to then, the Intermediate Objectives Map, I breathed a sigh of relief. I did so because I found the Goal Tree to be such an effective tool for not only strategizing, but also for tying together a strategic improvement initiative and system’s problem solving statement. I have used it many times since those days and have even expanded its usage in other ways. When I first began using the Goal Tree, I was working for a helicopter Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) contractor to the United States Army. It was such an easy tool to use and was easily learned and embraced by the staff of the MRO contractor. In less than 2 hours, without any prior training, the contractor’s executive team had developed a strategic Goal Tree which was used to develop their improvement plan. And we didn’t stop at the strategic level, as we had each subordinate department (e.g. Human Resources, Engineering, Quality, Maintenance, etc.) create their own Goal Tree.
Perhaps, before going any further, I should go back to basics and explain the Goal Tree in a bit more detail for those not familiar with it. In addition, it would probably help the readers if I talked a bit about the original Thinking Process (TP) tools. In my next posting, I will do both of these in more detail.