How can we transition from a set of solutions to a reliable path to create our desired future reality?
Dr. Domenico Lepore, international expert in systemic management, continues his series on the Thinking Process Tools from the Theory of Constraints.
Bridging the Present with a Desirable Future
In our previous posts, we looked at the Core Conflict Cloud. We saw how this powerful tool can guide us to identify solutions by invalidating assumptions (limiting beliefs) that keep us stuck. We call these solutions “injections”. By invalidating all the assumptions they “evaporate” (nothing like jargon, eh?) the conflict cloud (D and D’ disappear) and can potentially move us from our Current Reality to a more desirable, less constraining Future Reality.
However, in order for this to happen, we have to ensure that this set of injections is both complete and as free as possible from potential negative implications. Only then will we have a full understanding of the pattern in front of us. Only then will we have a thorough comprehension of all the potential ramifications of the solutions we identified (the injections).
Completing the solution: the Future Reality Tree
What ensures the completeness of the set of injections/solutions identified, hence providing a conceptually reliable path to the future, is another Thinking Process Tool called the Future Reality Tree (FRT). The process of building an FRT requires some skill, a bit of experience and a fierce determination. I want to stress that this is neither academia nor is it an exercise in conventional logic. Building an FRT is only possible if we have embraced the vision and the method that supports it; the vision is that of a company that takes very seriously its commitment to the future, that sees itself as an ongoing generator of wealth for all its stakeholders and society at large. The method is the orderly, relentless identification of all the cause-and-effect relationships that are likely to shape the future if certain actions are carried out successfully. In this sense, the FRT is similar in nature to the Plan, Do, Study, Act cycle because it prompts a rigorous, scientific investigation of the subject matter.
The strength and the value of the FRT are in the understanding it provides of the comprehensiveness and the breadth of the effort needed to transition from the current to the future state of reality. The thoroughness of this effort and the completeness of the understanding we derive from it are further enhanced by the meticulous test we carry out on potential negative implications deriving from the coming into existence of the injections. The Thinking Process Tool that supports our understanding in this effort is called Negative Branch Reservation (NBR).
Revealing and Dealing with Negative Implications
The logic of this tool is simple but the mechanics require some attention. In essence, with this tool we verify if the injection suggested carries with it potential negativities; if we can identify them we can try to diffuse or reduce their impact. The steps to build this “branch” are the following:
1) we state the injection;
2) we state the potential negative outcome;
3) we build the cause-and-effect chain of events that we anticipate would determine the negative outcome;
4) we identify the logical statement/statement of future reality that would turn the positive of the injection into a negative;
5) we devise an action that trims that negative;
6) we incorporate the needed change into the original injection so as to make it more effective.
Anticipating negative implications is an activity in which many people are well versed. The point here is not to encourage scepticism, fuel negativity or stifle creativity and enthusiasm. The goal of an Negative Branch Reservation is to ensure full understanding of the ramifications of our decisions. In some cases this tool helps us abort in time a half-baked decision. In some others, regardless of our inability to trim that negative implication, it reinforces our desire to go ahead anyway. More frequently, NBRs helps us craft better and more rounded injections giving us a higher chance of accomplishing what those solutions had been designed for.
You can see a full account of the real life example of the Future Reality Tree of Proprint by clicking here.
Connection and Transformation with the Conflict Cloud Tool