We would like to move to a more technical article. We would like to discuss a tool that has become integral to generating results on our Business Improvement Projects. While this tool has become critical in helping provide clarity and direction to our improvement projects, it also greatly helps when mentoring projects, particularly complicated projects which may be stalled or the way forward is unclear.

We originally started using this tool about twelve years ago and we simply called it the “tree diagram”. Since that time we have studied Theory of Constraints (TOC) under Goldratt Schools where it was known as an IO diagram (Input Output Diagram) and used as part of Goldratt’s Thinking Process. Subsequently we came across the tool mentioned in the blog of Bob Sproull where we first heard of the “Goal Tree” name. By the way Bob writes a great Blog (https://focusandleverage.blogspot.com) and authored on of our favourite TOC Books (Epiphanized -We have  a book  review here).

The General Structure of the Goal Tree is as indicated in the Diagram below:

Goal_Tree_Generic_Diagram V2

The Goal Tree is based on what is called ‘Necessity Based Logic’ and is read like the following, “In order to Achieve the Goal, I must have Critical Success Factor 1, Critical Success Factor 2, Critical Success factor 3 and Critical Success Factor 4”. The Critical Success Factors, are the high level requirements that must be in place before the goal can be achieved. Each of the Critical Success Factors must be in place before we can achieve the ultimate goal.

Then the next level of the Goal Tree is read “In Order to Have Critical Success Factor 1 (CSF 1), I must have Necessary Condition 1 AND Necessary Condition 2. In Order to achieve CSF 2 I must have NC 3” and so on. The NC’s are written as activities that must be completed before each of the CSF’s can be realised.  The NC’s are seen as discrete actions that must be taken to achieve the CSF’s. From the Necessary Conditions that an Imporvement Action Plan or Project Plan can be developed.

Now we’ve discussed the Tree and how it’s generated and hows it is verbalised, lets discuss where have we used the Goal Tree to provide clarity for a business, functional or business improvement team.

We have used the Goal tree for:

Strategy sessions; developing a strategy to lift Throughput for a large Mine and  for developing functional department improvement plans. The interesting thing here is we have found with this tool people intuitively know what needs to be completed to achieve a particular business strategy so there was little disagreement on the way forward -Senior management readily agreed with the strategic plan. Using the goal tree it is a simple task to develop a project plan.

Improvement Project Root Cause Identification.

Hypothesis Testing Planning identifying very clearly the hypotheses that need to be tested to find the root cause and then progressively working through each hypothesis test to find the root causes.

Solution Identification and subsequent elements that need to be implemented to achieve the required goal.

One of the biggest benefits of the goal tree is the ability to portray the strategy on a single page, making it very visual and easy to comprehend.

In future posts we will go more detail and examples of how to use the Goal tree.