I sometimes quip to people that I get most of my exercise by jumping to conclusions.
The fact of the matter is, we all do! (Of course, some people actually work out in a gym, jog, or take walks daily, too.)
Here’s a great YouTube video that explains the physiological reality behind our natural human proclivity for jumping to conclusions. Click here to watch the 12-minute “The Science of Thinking” video. It’s well worth your time.
If you watched the video, you can see that it is very natural for us to respond without really thinking, if we think we already know the answer.
Tools to Help Us Think
Because of this natural human proclivity toward not thinking if we think we know, Eliyahu Goldratt developed the Thinking Processes—a set of tools to help us really think about what we think we already know.
Let me give you an example.
Is this statement true or false?
If it is raining outside, I will get wet.
Many of you probably went through a thought process something like this:
- It’s true.
- Wait a minute… it’s not always true
- Other factors might come into play….
On the other hand, some of you may have concluded it was true, and left it at that.
This is where the Thinking Processes can help us.
We can put what we think we know down in a graphical format that serves to augment our discussions of what is based on sound logic and what is based on assumptions. Look at the accompanying simple diagram.
The round-cornered boxes are statements that include subject and a predicate. We call them entities in a generic sense. The arrow represents a logical cause-and-effect relationship.
The diagram is read from the bottom up as:
IF it is raining, THEN I get wet.
Since the arrow represents a logical IF-THEN relationship, we can begin a discussion about any assumptions that may underlie the arrow. We can begin making those assumptions explicit in our diagram. It may progress to this…
Note that we could have connected an arrow directly from “I go outside” to “I get wet,” but that would not have been true. We cannot say, “IF I go outside, THEN I get wet,” if it isn’t also raining. So, we use the AND conditional join for the two statements. It can now be read as:
IF it is raining AND I go outside, THEN I get wet.
Still, someone might object and the diagram might become something like this:
Helping us engage in real thinking about what we think we know
As you can see, having the Thinking Process tools to use, we can begin to have discussions about the assumptions that lie beneath the things we already think we know and understand. We can bring an end to jumping to conclusions about how things work—or fail to work—in our enterprises and supply chains.
This has meaningful business applications.
Below are two excerpts from what we call Current Reality Trees (CRTs). Developing and discussing CRTs help our clients begin to really think about the underlying assumptions their management teams hold about the causes-and-effects across their enterprises or their supply chains.
By beginning to make the cause-and-effect connections explicit in the diagram, the door is opened to discuss the underlying assumptions that various team members have about why this leads to that in their system.
Once the real cause-and-effect relationships have been agreed upon, and necessary assumptions stated explicitly, the process of really thinking about solutions—instead of firefighting and finger-pointing—can begin. This is real power of the Thinking Process tools.
We use them to help us help you think through to breakthrough solutions and real, long-lasting improvements for your enterprise and your supply chain.
If you would like to see an example of a full Current Reality Tree (CRT) and talk about developing one for your organization or supply chain, leave your comments below, or feel free to contact us directly, if you prefer.