Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Focus and Leverage Part 271

In my last posting I said I would return to the discussion on the Goal Tree and how I use it to replace the Thinking Process Tools when available time is a factor.  I want to state up front that I am fully supportive of the full TP analysis and I’m not advocating their elimination, but I do want to demonstrate a simple and effective way to use the Goal Tree.

As I said earlier, many people who have gone through a TOC Jonah training session have come away overwhelmed and sometimes feeling like they are unable to apply what they’ve learned.  Let’s face it, the TOC Thinking Process tools are just not easy for some people to grasp and apply (myself included), so we kind of put them on the back-burner rather than taking a chance of doing something wrong.  Let’s lay out the structure of the Goal Tree and see if we can make some sense of it.

The hierarchical structure of the Goal Tree consists of a single Goal, several Critical Success Factors (CSFs) which must be in place to achieve the goal and a series of Necessary Conditions (NCs) which must be in place to achieve each of the CSF’s. The Goal and CSFs are written as terminal outcomes as though they were already in place.    One other area where I depart from the conventional way of developing the Goal Tree is the direction of the connecting arrows.  When I’m developing this tree, my arrows point in the direction of flow, which in this case is downward.  You will notice in my final version where I insert improvement actions, the arrows reverse direction and point upward.  I do this because the actions at the base of the arrows impact the entity at the tip of the arrow.  Let’s look at an example of what a Goal Tree might look like.

Suppose that you were working with an organization who wants to become a highly profitable one.  You assemble the CEO and key members of his staff to develop an effective plan to achieve this goal.  In the Goal Tree drawing below, after much discussion, you agree on your Goal as “Highly Profitable Company” and place it inside the Goal box. You then think to yourself, “What must I have in place for our goal to be realized?” You think, “I know that we must have highly satisfied customers for sure and that our throughput must be high and growing,” so you place both of these in separate CSF boxes.  One-by-one you continue listing those things that must be in place in order to achieve your goal and place them into separate CSF boxes like the figure below.  In a Goal Tree you should have no more than 3 to 5 CSF’s.
Because the Goal Tree uses necessity–based logic, it is read in the following way: “In order to have a highly profitable company, I must have highly satisfied customers.  Directly beneath the CSFs are NCs that must also be in place to achieve each of the individual CSFs. So, continuing to read downward, “In order to have highly satisfied customers, I must have three different NCs as described in the Goal Tree above.  Remember, the CSF’s are written as terminal outcomes, as though they’re already in place.  You continue reading downward, in order to have, for example, a high on-time delivery rate, I must have buffer management in place and functioning.  The NC’s represent actions that must be completed in order to achieve each individual CSF and form the basis for your improvement plan.  In like manner, your team completes all of the CSF’s and NCs until you are satisfied that what you have in place on the Goal Tree will ultimately deliver the goal of the organization. Typically in a Goal Tree, there are three-to-five CSFs and no more than two-to-three layers of NCs.  OK, so what happens next?

Bill Dettmer recommends that your next step is to create a Current Reality Tree, but here’s the point at which I typically depart from the traditional TP tools.  And although I totally support Dettmer’s and other’s approach, when time is a factor (and it usually is with executives), I continue on with the Goal Tree in a different way.
In my next posting I will demonstrate how I have changed the usage of the Goal Tree in terms of not using the other TP Tools.
Bob Sproull

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