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The Thinking Processes Part 10

The Thinking Processes Part 10

By Bob Sproull

A Review

In my last posting we discussed the basics of the Future Reality Tree (FRT) which is constructed simple if-then or sufficiency based logic. I also explained that the FRT is designed to predict how changes we intend to make to our current reality would be realized in the future.  As with all of these logic diagrams, I told you that the FRT can be used in isolation or it can be a part of a full system’s thinking analysis using all of the logic trees.

I explained that the FRT is intended to provide a framework to help you design and refine changes you intend to make to improve your future reality.  In other words, you will be able to plot your proposed changes as a chain of cause and effect logic to be able to predict your future reality.


What Does an FRT Look Like?

In similar fashion on how we produced our Current Reality Tree, the Future Reality Tree (FRT) is constructed using sufficiency-based logic (i.e. if-then statements

The FRT provides a framework to help you design and refine changes you intend to make.  It combines the current reality with new ideas (injections) in hopes that you can create new, expected future outcomes.  In other words, you will be able to plot your proposed changes as a chain of cause and effect logic to be able to predict your future reality.

In my last posting I explained that the FRT is built upward from injections to desired effects.  That is, while the CRT builds upward to identify Undersirable Effects (UDEs), the FRT does the opposite.  In effect the FRT create the polar opposite of the CRT.  You can build an FRT from scratch or you can build one in conjunction with the CRT and/or the CRD, but it’s easier done by the latter.  We will be building our FRT from the entities contained in the CRT.  The FRT I will be presenting, will be a simple example using one of the key undesirable effects (UDE) contained in the CRT.  The simple way to think of the FRT is that if you have an undesirable effect in the CRT, then that same effect in the FRT will be worded as a desirable effect.  So let’s create our FRT.


Building a Future Reality Tree

As mentioned, while it is possible to build an FRT from scratch, it’s not the easiest way to do so.  Dettmer [1] suggests that you start you Thinking Process analysis with a Goal Tree (a.k.a. Intermediate Objectives Map), but I am choosing to demonstrate how the TP tools were originally designed to be used.  The first step is to, from the CRT, make a list of undesirable effects (UDEs) and core problems you might have identified.  For reference, the figure below is our original CRT.


Undesirable Effects and Core Problems from CRT

  • Performance metric efficiency is used
  • There is no Quality System in place
  • Excessive amounts of WIP inventory
  • Extended product cycle times cause later customer deliveries
  • Throughput rates are too low causing later deliveries
  • Repetitive defects are causing excessive repairs & OE
  • Excessive repairs drive up operating expenses & delay shipments
  • Excessive rework causes higher operating expenses
  • Operating expenses are too high


Dettmer [1] suggests to begin building your FRT by writing, on Post-it Notes, statements of the desired effects you’re trying to achieve.  In our example, the following are the UDEs transformed into desirable effects (DEs):


Undesirable Effects

Desirable Effects

Performance metric efficiency used at all steps Efficiency used only at constraint
No quality system in place Quality system in place an functioning
Excessive amounts of WIP inventory Minimal WIP inventory
Extended product cycle times Short product cycle time
Throughput rates are too low Throughput rates are high
Repetitive defects Very few defects are seen
Excessive repairs Very few repairs are required
Excessive rework Very little rework required
Operating expenses are too high OE are at optimum levels

When transforming UDE’s into DE’s, it’s very important that your wording expresses the desired effect as truly positive and not neutral.  In other words, when someone reads your DE’s, they come across as being truly good.  The other thing to consider is when you are wording the DE’s, make sure they are stated in the present tense as though they were already in place.

The next step is to arrange the desired effects, you have selected horizontally across the top of your paper or white board.  These are the important DE’s that you are aiming to achieve or the end point, if you will.  For example, one of the high level desired effects is that Throughput rates are high and in order to achieve this end point, what must you put in place?  Clearly you need short product cycle time, so this would be a lower-level DE.  And what might you need to have short product cycle times?  The quick answer is another DE, Minimal WIP inventory.  The point is, we want to create a logic tree (i.e. FRT) where DE’s build on each other from bottom to top, culminating with the most desired DE’s.

It should be clear to you that there are more FRT entities than just the listed desired effects.  When constructing the FRT you will need to add other ideas (i.e. injections) in order to be able to realize the final desired effect.  Clearly, in order to achieve your desired effect and ultimately your objective, you must change how you are doing things in your current reality.


An Assignment

Based upon what’s been presented thus far, I want you to try and construct our FRT using the desired effects and other injections that you come up with yourself.


Next time

In my next posting we’ll complete our FRT and move on to the final two TP Tools, the Prerequisite Tree and the Transition Tree.  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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