In this final posting on the Goal Tree, I will present other benefits I have experienced when using either Bill Dettmers recommendation or the one I have proposed in this series of postings. The bottom line is, the Goal Tree is a wonderful tool that is easy to learn and use and I encourage everyone to at least try using it.
Before completing this discussion on the Goal Tree, I want to point out several other benefits of the Goal Tree that I haven’t mentioned yet. In addition to its primary usage of revealing the logical hierarchy of CSF’s and NC’s to reach or improve Goal attainment, the Goal Tree also reveals the organizational inter-relationships that exist within the organization. That is, this visual hierarchy presents a clear picture of how the organization must work together to achieve the Goal. This is important because it allows senior management to clearly see the connection between the work of the subject matter experts (i.e. the worker who produce products or deliver services) and the eventual long-term success of the organization.
I mentioned earlier that when I worked for the MRO contractor to the US Army, we created individual departmental Goal Trees. The Goal Trees of the subordinate departments are the “gears” of the larger system Goal Tree machine. Dettmer tells us that the nature of the lower-level goals and critical success factors become more discrete and functional in nature. Dettmer provides an example of the Goal Tree of an Engineering department with a Goal that reads, “Timely, high-quality engineering services, the first time. Critical success factors supporting that goal might be “First-time drawing accuracy” and “On-time delivery of required drawings.”
To complete this discussion on Goal Trees, what about organizations that are not-for-profit in nature? In cases like these, Dettmer tells us that the goal “must be something higher, more altruistic or noble than the mere accumulation of wealth.” The answer to this question is that the only parties with the moral authority to decide what the organization’s goal is, is/are the “owner(s)” of the organization. If the owner(s) of the organization sets the goal that is something more noble than profitability, then guess what, that’s their choice! No matter what the goal of the organization is, the development of the Goal Tree follows exactly the same path outlined above. I can tell you that in my experiences in Healthcare organizations, for example, the goal is not profitability. Profitability is important to sustain the organization, but it becomes a critical success factor rather than a goal.
So here it is…..my version (along with Bill Dettmer’s assistance) of how Goal Trees can be used to develop strategies or solving system’s problems. No matter how you use the Goal Tree, you still need to have an understanding of the system’s goal and critical success factors as well as the supporting necessary conditions. As Dettmer points out, “the very act of creating a Goal Tree forces people to consciously consider why their system exists and what it takes to succeed.” Going back to one of my original assertions, I have found that creating a Goal Tree is much faster and easier than a full Thinking Process analysis and it is for this reason that I have made the Goal Tree one of the first activities I undertake when trying to improve an organization’s performance. In doing so, any organization can easily develop a clear path to improving their performance.