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The Thinking Processes Part 5

The Thinking Processes Part 5

By Bob Sproull

A Review

In my last post we completed our Causes, Negatives and Why’s Table.  So as a reference for the construction of our Current Reality Tree, here is the completed table. 


Causes (What is causing this negative?

Negatives (What I don’t like about the current situation?)

Why is this negative bad for our goal, necessary condition or measurement?

A1.  Attendance policy is not enforced by HR and/or operations

  1. Absenteeism is high and unstable

1a. P & A is forced to overstaff operations which drives up operating expenses

A2. Effective process control system does not exist

  1. Processes are not stable & predictable

2a. Wet cement and grout drive cycle times higher

A3. Specifications are vague, not current and difficult to understand

  1. Operators don’t/won’t follow specifications

3a. Excessive rework causes higher operating expense

A4. Material dry/cure times are excessively long

  1. Product build cycle times are excessively long

4a. Throughput rates are too low causing late deliveries to customers

A5. Preventive maintenance on key equipment is inconsistent or ineffective

  1. Equipment breaks down frequently

5a. Cycle times are extended causing late deliveries to customers

A6. Suppliers are not always held accountable to produce in-spec material

  1. Incoming materials are frequently non-conforming

6a. Product cycle times are extended causing late deliveries to customers

A7. Clear and concise acceptance standards do not exist

  1. QA inspections are inconsistent between inspectors

7a. Excess repairs drive up operating expenses and delay shipments

A8. Most problem solving efforts focused on treating the symptoms instead of the root cause(s)

  1. Problems are never really solved

8a. Repetitive defects occur which result in excessive repair time which drives up


    We will now begin the construction of our CRT.  You will recall that we have finished the first three steps on the construction of the CRT, so we will start this post with step four.  Remember, the company involved here produces flexible tanks used to hold and transport volatile organic liquids. This company had serious problems generating enough throughput to satisfy the volume and delivery requirements of their customers.


    Creating a Current Reality Tree

    4. Convert all Negatives, Whys, and Causes to CRT Entities (Graphic Blocks) – Using the alpha-numeric entries from our completed table, word your Negatives, Whys and Causes in such a way that they will fit neatly inside the graphic blocks or boxes. The information inside the block should be complete statements and should leave no  

    ambiguity as to its meaning. The figure below is an example of what your graphic blocks should resemble. Note that the information is a complete statement and its content leaves no doubt about what is or why it is negative to the organization.

    Current Reality Tree Graphic Blocks 

    5. Identify and Designate the Undesirable Effects – After you have converted all of the Negatives, Whys and Causes into graphic blocks, it’s time to determine which of the negatives and whys are Undesirable Effects (UDE’s). UDE’s are those whys and negatives that are negative in relation to the organization’s goal or necessary conditions or the key measures of progress toward achievement of the goal. Normally all of the whys will be considered UDE’s and probably some of the negatives will as well. In some cases even some of the root causes could be considered UDE’s. The key point to remember is whether or not the contents of the graphic block would be considered negative at face value or detrimental to achievement of the system’s goal. If they are, then designate them as a UDE. Once they are designated as a UDE, assuming you are using a drawing software (e.g. Visio, Power Point, etc.), mark the UDE in some fashion so as to make it visual such as color-coding the block or maybe changing the wall thickness of the graphic block to designate which of them are UDE’s as I have done in the figure below. 

    For demonstration and explanation purposes, I have listed only the whys as being UDE’s, although the argument could be made for many of the Negatives being designated as UDE’s as well.

    6. Group the Graphic Blocks into Clusters – To quote Dettmer [1], “From this point on, building the CRT is going to be very much like assembling a jigsaw puzzle with the graphic blocks being the puzzle pieces. Grouping is done by aligning the Whys (now a UDE) at the top of the page, appropriate Cause directly beneath the corresponding Negative as shown in the second figure below.  This second figure is our completed Current Reality Tree (CRT).


     Clustered Current Reality Tree Graphic Blocks


     Completed Current Reality Tree


    So if this is our completed CRT, let’s look at how it is read.  Starting at the bottom UDE’s, we read the CRT upwards.  For example, “If Performance Metric Efficiency is used, then operators will over-produce.  If operators over-produce, then there will be excessive amounts of WIP inventory.  If there is excessive amounts of WIP inventory, then extended product cycle times cause late deliveries.  If there are extended product cycle times that cause late deliveries, then throughput rates are too low causing late deliveries.”  What else is causing late deliveries?  UDE A5, preventive maintenance on key equipment is inconsistent or ineffective.  So these two UDE’s are both contributing to the company’s throughput problem.  The thought process behind the CRT is that if you identify a core problem and remove it, then the UDE’s above it will disappear.


    Next time

    Now that we have created our Current Reality Tree, in my next post we’ll move on to the remaining logic diagrams and complete our series on the logical thinking processes.  As always, if you have any questions or comments about any of my posts, leave me a message and I will respond. 

    Until next time.


    Bob Sproull



    [1] The Logical Thinking Process – H. William Dettmer, Quality Press, 2007

    Bob Sproull

    About the author

    Bob Sproull has helped businesses across the manufacturing spectrum improve their operations for more than 40 years.

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