Table of contents
1.0 Introduction. 2
2.0 Review of Literature. 3
2.1 Definition of Current Reality Tree. 3
2.2 Uses of Current Reality Tree. 4
3.0 Components of the Current reality tree. 5
3.1 Undesirable effects. 5
3.2 Root causes. 6
3.3 Core problems. 7
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3.4 Depicting a current reality tree. 8
4.0 How the current reality tree is used. 8
5.0 How current reality tree generates a solution. 9
6.0 Example of current reality tree application. 10
7.0 Conclusion. 11
This research paper outlines the aspects and application of current reality tree within an organization. The first section deals with the description of what a current reality tree is and how it works. The second section explains the objectives and uses of a current reality tree and the parties involved in the process of building a CRT. The third section outlines the components of current reality tree and the logical relationships that link the core conflict with the UDEs within a CRT. The fourth and fifth sections explain how current reality tree is used to generate solutions within organizations. The section also deals with ways to gain clear determination of people’s goals and the ways how CRTs can be used to gain insight into those goals. Finally, the conclusion summarizes the entire paper and describes what can be done to enhance the usability of current reality trees in organizations.
2.0 Review of Literature
2.1 Definition of Current Reality Tree
The current reality tree is a type of a flowchart that shows the cause and effect relationships that exist within an organization or an object of interest. Dirgo (2006) says that the tree is normally built using a storyboard-type approach, starting with the listing of the effects to be remedied. The contributing factors within the current reality tree that perpetuate these effects are associated with them and listed accordingly. This type of analysis is performed again on the perpetuating factors and is continued until what in essence would be the root cause of the problem in the organization that can be identified.
In addition, current reality trees are diagrams of effect-cause-effect. Effect-cause-effect diagrams are based on the scientific method of postulating a cause of an observed effect, then testing the cause by raising a second effect. Kolfschoten (2010) says that the confirmation of this second effect provides evidence of the veracity of the postulated cause. The purpose of current reality tree is therefore the definition of the central problems found in a particular production system. The logical links are indicative of sufficiency, in which the occurrence of certain undesirable effect or problem requires the occurrence of others. Current reality tree provides mechanisms to identify the impact of policies, procedures and actions in an organization, clear and concise communication, the causality of these policies, procedures and actions. It also helps in the establishment of the central problem in a situation and allows the creation of an environment motivated by the problems (Kolfschoten, 2010).
2.2 Uses of Current Reality Tree
Ronen & Pass (2008) established that a current reality tree is a focusing tool based on logical thinking. The tool is used to identify core problems in an organization. Kolfschoten (2010) further says that current reality tree is the tool used to represent the deviations along the business process. Ronen & Pass (2008) argue that the underlying assumption is that each organization has a few core problems with most other problems being their symptoms. Ronen & Pass (2008) indicated that “once the core problems are solved, then many of the other problems will be solved as well”.According to Blackstone, the objectives of the current reality tree include: to identify the core problems of the organization, the system or the subsystem, deepen the understanding that every system has a small number of core problems, which are the cause of most problems (2010). The current reality tree is used to establish communication channels among managers in an organization.
It is usually through brainstorming activity that involves all parties associated with the situation of interest that a beneficial list of factors can be developed. Dirgo (2006) noted that one of the expected outputs of creating a current reality tree is to identify the root causes that are perpetuating the effects to be remedied. Once these causes are defined, they provide a focus for subsequent efforts. Dettmer (1998) says that with the current reality tree, one can build from a completely unstructured, qualitative situation a rigorous network of cause and effect that clearly shows the real root cause of the problem indicators in an organization.
The current reality tree establishes the main cause of conflict even when the constraint is not something physical, such as a piece of machinery or a facility. Dettmer (1998) noted that the current reality tree tells us what to change about our system. Similarly to the analysis of the problem, the current reality tree provides a structured, easy to follow visual aid that people can use to communicate their understanding of the problem to others, perhaps influential ones, whose help we need to make the change.
Current reality trees are constructed with sufficient cause reasoning that is used to establish a stream of logical relationships that link the core conflict with the UDEs (Ronen, 2005). The CRT is used to logically validate that the core conflict revealed in the core conflict cloud is primarily responsible for all of the existing situations that are deemed detrimental to meet the systems stated goal. Ronen (2005) says that the core conflict cloud is used as the base for the current reality tree and rational connections are derived to logically link the entities in the core conflict with the various UDEs. Several iterations of tree construction and significant wording refinements within the entities are necessary to create a current reality tree that is acceptable to an organization (Blackstone, 2010).
3.0 Components of the current reality tree
3.1 Undesirable effects
One of the first elements of the current reality tree is the undesirable effect (UDE). Dettmer (1997) says that UDE is the first indication that something is amiss in the organization. A UDE is something that really exists and is negative on its own merits. The UDEs are only the most visible results of much more complex interactions and processes, but they are the gateway to finding the real problem. The following figure show examples of UDEs.
3.2 Root causes
Dettmer (1997) says that in building a current reality tree, one must work from UDEs back through the chain of cause and effect to root causes. The root cause is the beginning of the cause-effect relationship. There may be several intermediate effects and causes between the root cause and the UDE (Dettmer, 1997). He further says that every current reality tree will have several root causes. Every cause statement that has arrows coming out of it, but no arrows going in, is technically considered a root cause. A root cause is a point of origin in a current reality tree.
3.3 Core problems
One root cause in any current reality tree is likely to be the origin of a substantial number of UDEs (Dettmer, 1997). The primary objective of the current reality tree is to work backward from UDEs through a chain of cause and effect to identify this root cause. It is important to note that when this cause accounts for 70% or more of the UDEs in a CRT, it is considered a core problem (CP). While every current reality tree can be built downward to a core problem, eventually, that core problem may be beyond ones sphere of influence (Dettmer, 1997).
3.4 Depicting a current reality tree
The symbols used to depict current reality are straightforward. Dettmer (1997) says that a round cornered rectangle indicates a cause or effect. Effects that are undesirable are highlighted in some way through stars, asterisks, or perhaps drop shadows. Dettmer (1997) indicated that arrows connect causes with effects. On the other hand, ellipses are used to indicate that two or more causes must combine to produce the effect
4.0 How the current reality tree is used
According to Dettmer (1998), the current reality tree is a powerful way to display the details of complex cause and effect logic behind any situation in an organization because it can be very flexible. Dettmer (1998) indicated that current reality trees can be used as the first step in solving a problem or they can enhance our understanding by explaining why reality is the way it is or was. They might also be considered knowledge trees, piecing together the lessons of the past to make sure we do not have to repeat them in the future (Blackstone 2010).
Dettmer (1998) noted that the current reality tree begins with a clear determination of people’s goals and the indications that we are not achieving it or at least not making as much progress as we could. Current reality tree works backward from those indicators or undesirable effects through some intermediate effects to the root causes that produce them. Dettmer (1998) also noted that if someone is extremely fortunate, he or she can find the root cause that accounts for the worst of the undesirable effects we see. Most likely, the system constraint and the one factor that we can change will produce the maximum positive effect (Dettmer, 1998).
Bennis & Gibson (1998) say that at the top of almost every current reality tree are loops. One undesirable effect and intuition guide an individual to see that another undesirable effect participates in its cause. In line with this undesirable effect that participates in the cause of the second one, the first one contributes to the third one. Bennis & Gibson (1998) argue that when the full current reality tree is developed, it can be realized that towards the bottom there are no loops. Instead, there are one or two root causes that create all the symptoms all the existing undesirable effects.
5.0 How current reality tree generates a solution
Kolfschoten (2010) argues that current reality trees are built containing the causal relations identified and the model of business process with the undesirable effects identified by activity. Apart from the current reality tree, the method generates another diagram representing deviations in the model of business process. In an organization, current reality tree constitutes a relevant solution for three reasons. Kolfschoten (2010) noted that the first reason is to detect deviation from the business process for the entire process, helping the future drafting of appropriate rules and procedures geared to the needs of the whole process and not only the needs of specific areas, and the writing of plans for the treatment of deviations.
The second reason is to propose a model for representing deflection of business processes, highlighting features and relations of cause and effect, which could not be entirely understood before. Kolfschoten (2010) noted that the third reason is related to the identification of the central problems of the business process, which are responsible for most of the deviations identified and therefore should be properly understood and prioritized by the organizations.
During the process the execution of the TOC, thinking process should be done to list the undesirable effects (UDEs) and then create the current reality tree (Stein & Dekker, 2003). The objective is to find the core cause. Once it is found and eliminated, all undesirable effects should disappear. Stein & Dekker (2003) indicated that if the core cause can be found and a solution implemented, then these effects should no longer exist in the organization. Chowdhary (2009) says that the basic shape of the current reality tree with its previously undesirable effects is converted to desirable effects. He further says that reality is not so symmetrical when it comes to drawing current reality trees. There is also no need for a clear demarcation between the desirable effects and the critical success factors (Chowdhary, 2009).
6.0 Example of current reality tree application
Groupware tools are developed to support the collection and analysis stages and partially the representation stage of the current reality tree. Kolfschoten (2010) noted that the groupware tool firstly allows the recording of stories in groups and the association of these stories to groups of undesirable effects and causes. Secondly, the analysis of knowledge through clarity and causality tests, especially the activities of grouping effects and causes and creating causal relations is carried out (Kolfschoten, 2010). Thirdly follows the classification of undesirable effects to build the current reality tree and presentation of the products of the method.
From the above diagram the relationship between problems can be viewed through the analysis of current reality tree. Kolfschoten (2010) says that the effects at the top are responsible for most of the causes and effects described in the current reality tree, for each path leads directly or indirectly to them. As a result, these problems should be prioritized by the organizations in the moment of their treatment plans (Kolfschoten(2010). Current reality tree shows a kind of diagnosis to the problems situated on the top, indicating what are the causes and other effects related to each of the central problems that must be addressed together to ensure that the central problem will be solved.
The causes at the base of current reality tree represent those, which are not under the responsibility of the process participants, or causes they are able to address, only reduce their impacts. For example, Kolfschoten (2010) says that the basic cause human error is always present in the execution of any activity and whose impact cannot be completely eliminated.
Depending on the complexity of the business process, in which the current reality tree is applied, organizations should incorporate mechanisms to contribute and identify causes of problems. The current reality tree is a very important tool by itself. It really becomes invaluable when used in concert with other parts of the TOC thinking process. There are only few times when the current reality tree is used in isolation. While other logical tools have great utility by themselves as well, the current reality tree really is designed to lead into two other parts of the thinking process, which are conflict resolution diagram and the future reality tree. In an organization, when conflict is present, the current reality tree leads into conflict resolution diagram. When solving the core problem, organizations essentially try to achieve a condition that is opposite to that core problem.
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