Continuing our series on Change.
- what to change
- what to change to
- how to make the change happen
For each of these phases, there is a powerful Thinking Process Tool from the Theory of Constraints (TOC). Let’s look at the three phases.
What to change
In the first phase of change we have intuition about the current state of reality that needs change. This intuition is fuzzy and the blur is originated by the many emotions triggered by ‘undesirable effects’ (in TOC they are called UDEs) in our life or that of an organization. These effects are the light bulbs going on and off to warn us that a change is needed. We can capture the intuition stemming from these effects by summarizing them into a Core Conflict Cloud diagram, carefully surfacing all the underlying assumptions (mental models) that make up our current reality. (We looked at a paradigmatic example of a Conflict Cloud in our post ‘Change: Control vs. Vision in our decisions to change.’
Once we have this ‘cognitive snapshot’ of our situation, we can create a diagram that clearly displays the cause-effect relationships that unequivocally lead us to a clear picture of the present state of reality: this is provided by the TOC diagram called the “Current Reality Tree” (CRT).
This tool gives us a clear verbalization of our intuition and helps us see our current reality in (almost) all its facets, making us aware of why this reality exists. Now that our intuition is strong and clearly articulated, we can decide that we want to change this reality.
What to change to
In this second phase we identify the solutions (known as ‘injections’ in TOC) to move us forward. We derive these solutions organically by invalidating the assumptions, or mental models, that underlie the Core Conflict we have already verbalized. These injections point in the right direction and make us see where we want to go more clearly. They are the road signs to the future.
Now we need a full-blown picture of the road in front of us. Not only that, but we must ensure that this picture is a) complete, and b) highlights all the possible pitfalls. This is achieved through understanding (analysis/development). Understanding is the human ability to imagine and plan beyond the contingencies of the present and towards a meaningful future. The Thinking Process Tools called the Future Reality Tree (FRT) and the Negative Branch Reservation (NBR) support and enhance our understanding.
How to make the change happen
At this stage, the Future Reality we desire has been mapped out, the potential pitfalls identified and a precise strategy crafted. All we need now is a step-by-step procedure to walk into the future. The tool for this is called the Transition Tree (TRT), and it maps out the precise actions to take, as well as the logic behind them. This makes it the ideal tool not just for individuals but for groups to share. On one level it is a protocol with detailed instructions. On a deeper level, what we need to operate this procedure is a new kind of knowledge. This knowledge triggers a higher level of consciousness that becomes an active vehicle of self-actualization. We need this knowledge, and the power that stems from it, to address the fundamental needs that move us towards a better future reality, and to be one with our most authentic self.
Towards a different use of the mind
It may well be that we are currently cognitively limited in our ability to cope with change. The mechanisms of our cognition and our ability to leverage emotions and rationality to facilitate learning are inadequate to support the pace at which knowledge is being generated.
If we want to close the gap between the knowledge available and what we are willing to use, we have to tap into a different use of the mind. We have to learn how to see change as not simply something to be feared, but a natural, intrinsic part of our life. When we learn how to use our intuition and intellect to implement consistent action, change is no longer a threat and a hazard; it is a continuous source of new opportunities.
The Thinking Process tools can be learned and applied with great success. Intelligent Management Inc. has been training individuals and organizations with these tools for over 15 years. Further information about training in these Thinking Process tools can be found at our website www.intelligentmanagement.ws