The Goal Tree – A New Way to Make and Use It
The Goal Tree is something I have written about numerous times on my blog and as a matter of fact, in the last 4-5 postings I introduced you to a book I have been reading, The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals, by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling. As I mentioned in a couple of these postings, I saw the teachings within this book as a way to enhance the Goal Tree. So for the next series of postings, I want to share how I believe the Goal Tree can be improved upon by interjecting the teachings in this wonderful book. For those of you who have never used a Goal Tree, I will start with a description of this tool and what a well-conceived Goal Tree can do for your organization. As I am presenting the new version of the Goal Tree, I will include and describe how I plan to improve it using the teachings within this book. So let me start with some background on the Goal Tree.
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, so they kind of put them on the back-burner rather than taking a chance of doing something wrong. Well, for everyone who fits into this category, I have hope for you and this hope is referred to as the Goal Tree. The Goal Tree is a logic diagram that is actually simple to construct and, unlike the TP’s, it is one that I think you would feel confident using. So let’s review both the history and basics of the Goal Tree.
Bill Dettmer, who is generally credited as being the man who developed the Goal Tree, tells us of his first exposure to the Goal Tree back in 1995 during a management skills workshop conducted by Oded Cohen at the Goldratt Institute. Back then, the Goal Tree was referred to as an Intermediate Objectives Map, but in recent years, Dettmer has recommended that the IO Map should now be referred to as a Goal Tree. Bill now believes that it should be the first step in a full Thinking Process analysis. He believes this because it defines the standard for goal attainment and its prerequisites in a much more efficient manner. I believe that the Goal Tree is a great focusing tool to better demonstrate why an organization is not meeting its goal. Bill tells us that other advantages of using a Goal Tree first, is that by including it, there is 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. The other thing I like about Goal Trees is that they can be used as a stand-alone tool which results in a much faster analysis of the organization’s weak points. In this posting we will discuss the Goal Tree as a stand-alone tool.
When using the logic based TOC Thinking Process tools there are two distinctly different types of logic at play, sufficiency type logic and necessity type logic. Sufficiency type logic is quite simply a series of if-then statements. If I have “this,” then I have “that.” Necessity-based logic trees use the syntax, “in order to have “this”……I must have “that” The Goal Tree falls into the necessity-based category. For example, in order to have a fire, I must have a fuel source, a spark and air. If the goal is to have a fire, I must have all three components. The fuel source, spark and air are referred to as Critical Success Factors (CSF’s). Take away even one of the CSFs and I won’t have a fire.
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 CSF. The Goal and CSFs are written as terminal outcomes, as though they are already in place. The NC’s are written more as activities that must be completed in order to achieve each of the CSF’s. Let’s look at an example of what a completed Goal Tree might look like.
Suppose that you were working with an organization that is profitable, but 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. This goal statement, which is the desired end state, is written as a terminal outcome as though it’s already been achieved. You 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 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 as well as the other four CSF’s. Directly beneath the CSFs are Necessary Conditions (NC’s) that must also be in place to achieve each of the CSFs. So continuing to read downward, “In order to have highly satisfied customers, I must have two NC’s, high on-time delivery rates and excellent quality. 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 a highly effective scheduling system in place and functioning. The NC’s represent actions that must be completed to achieve each individual CSF, so they form the basis for your improvement plan. In like manner, your team completes all of the 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?
In my next posting I'll introduce you to the first change in the way I will now be using the Goal Tree going forward. It’s a subtle change, but it’s very important.