Knowing what to change
How was Isaac Newton able to discover—to a good enough approximation—all physical relations between the heavenly bodies through just three laws of motion?
How can the immense complexity of the cosmos be so simply represented? The inherent simplicity arises from the idea that when you think in terms of systems, you discover very few degrees of freedom for connected entities.
Too many people take a reductionist approach to complexity, breaking big systems into myriad fragments and hoping to find answers to their problems within each part. The systems thinker gives primacy to the whole, imagining how best to integrate from the top down.
In other words, systems thinking accounts for the fact that an integrated system, such as an organisation, is a connected network. What you do to one thing has knock-on effects—many of which are undesirable.
If you chase down the chain of cause and effect you will, in due course, find a root cause. These root causes provide the highest leverage for systemic change. Getting to that root cause, however, demands a certain education in the process of logical thinking.
Finding the cause
Most of us believe we think logically. But few of us have actually studied logic rigorously enough to identify what’s really going on in a system—and what needs to change. Fortunately, the late Dr Eli Goldratt, who developed the Theory of Constraints (TOC), left us with just such a thinking process.
Building on his background in physics, Goldratt developed a framework for navigating complexity, helping us uncover those few inherently simple root causes that manifest all of the undesirable effects of the system at large.
When we use logic as a basis for decision-making, the Logical Thinking Process becomes a powerful ally to making our case for change. We can understand the difference between ‘necessary condition’ and ‘sufficient cause’ logic—avoiding the near-universal error of assuming that what is necessary is, therefore, sufficient.
What, for example, would one need to have in place to address the existing culture, the resistance to learning new ways of working and the potential upheavals in organisational structure? How does one understand what we are capable of doing now and be able to develop new capabilities? And how best to make it all operational?
Trees that lead to the roots
The Thinking Process is a streamlined and sequential series of ‘logic trees’ (see diagram above) that provide a robust means of constructing, testing and communicating the reasoning underlying a given approach to solving a problem.
The Ensemble Way has been greatly influenced by the extensive improvements Bill Dettmer has made to the pioneering work of Goldratt. These logic trees sometimes go by different names. And different practitioners use them in different sequences—sometimes as a strategic set, and other times individually to solve tactical problems.
We believe that anyone willing to invest the time studying and practising the Logical Thinking Process will experience a remarkable change in their approach.
Change the way you think about results.
Get in touch today for a free consultation.