Stand up Sit down if you have never heard of the Theory of Constraints until you decided to come to this talk Sit down if you have heard of the Theory of Constraints but don’t know anything about it Sit down if you have read about Theory of Constraints but never applied it Sit down if you know something about Current or Future Reality trees but have never built a tree before Sit down if you have been using CRTs/FRTs for a year or less For 2 years or less For 3 years or less…
TIMING GUIDELINE – 1 minute
Talk through objectives Mention that this is a practical workshop Invite people to shout out questions or put their hand up – no need to wait until the end
TIMING GUIDELINE – <1 minute
Anyone know who this is?
In the words of Eli Goldratt, “Any improvement is change, but not every change is an improvement”. It’s easy to make a change and to make the assumption that that change will improve things. But often the change can make no difference at all, or it could make things worse.
In the rest of this course we’ll use Goldratt’s thinking processes
TIMING GUIDELINE – 2 minutes
To solve a problem you need to answer 3 questions: Consider independently
1) What to change – talk about the difference between root causes and symptoms and how addressing symptoms can have a temporary affect but won’t get rid of the problem completely. Use an example like painkillers and toothache. Importance of finding the root cause – medical example jaundice/toothache
2) What to change to – talk about how making changes can make things better, but they could actually make no difference or have a detrimental effect on the overall system
How to change – it’s easy to come up with ideas for solutions, but they aren’t solutions until they are implemented. It’s important to carefully plan the execution of change and think about the sequence of events, obstacles that may be in the way and how to bring people with us on the journey.
TIMING GUIDELINE – 1 minute
Consider using the thinking process if you observe that frustrations are high – people are blaming one another, there are conflicts/tensions.
Ask the group if they’ve experienced this at any point in Skyscanner
Explain that TOC gives us a common language to use that helps us to avoid blame and personal conflict
TIMING GUIDELINE – 1 minutes
Explain what an UDE is and how it is pronounced.
Explain that UDES are not simply petty aggravations – they are prominent and negative. E.g. they are affecting the throughput in the system, or preventing you from reaching your goal.
Once you’ve listed your UDEs it is worth doing a check by asking a few questions: (a) Is it real, or just your opinion? (b) Is it actually negative? Do others in the organisation agree?
TIMING GUIDELINE - < 1min
A few examples – ask the audience if they can think of any, then read them out
TIMING GUIDELINE – 10 MINUTES
Ask people to brainstorm and write down what they think the undesirable effects are, without judging.
Debrief – ask each group to share some of their UDES (5 minutes)
They may possibly should out things that are intermediate effects, so use the opportunity to explain the difference between them and ask “what’s the impact of that”?
TIMING GUIDELINE – 4 minutes
Current Reality Tree (CRT) overview
Step through the structure of the CRT. Things to mention:
Similar to 5 Why’s but multiple UDEs Work your way down by asking “Why?” / “What is causing this?” Keep going till you get to the root cause Think about sphere of influence / control – you could keep going until the creation of the universe, but that’s not going to help You’re probably at the root cause when you’ve reached the boundary of your sphere of influence Mention the “AND” Symbology
TIMING GUIDELINE = 3 minutes
Walk through example
TIMING GUIDELINE = 4 minutes
TIMING GUIDELINE – 10 MINUTES
If you can answer the question – what does this cause
Explain the difference between cause or effect Give everyone around 10 minutes to sort out the causes and effects
Debrief – ask each group to share their effects
TIMING GUIDELINE – 15 MINUTES
Explain how to build the tree. Ensure there is a facilitator for each group
Wander round and help people built the tree
Debrief – ask people to shout out the root causes
TIMING GUIDELINE – 3 MINUTES
Explain that these are a couple of real examples from Skyscanner
Using postits – finding the root causes of the UDEs related to the OKR process Using a drawing tool – finding the root causes of why certain objectives hadn’t been achieved
Mention that the tree can be created with postits and a whiteboard, or using a tool such as RealTimeBoards
Give some tips for facilitating a tree building session e.g. ensure that you have all the people who actually know about the problem (don’t try to guess the causes) Pros and cons of small v large groups Be sensitive about the language used – people will sometimes feel that they are being blamed, or feel responsible
It’s clear that organisations are complex systems – and the Lean Agile Scotland audience is no stranger to Cynefin, so we thought it would be interesting to think about how these two models work together. Here is our take, We need to acknowledge the inherent complexity to that end we need to use CRTs in a certain way. We need to involve people who are actually involved in what is going on, that begins to constitute probing but we need to go further; we need to do these fast and then run experiment in the organisation, using the CRT as a visual model of our current understanding.
TIMING = 1 min
TIMING GUIDELINE – 5 minutes
Future Reality Tree (FRT) overview
Step through the structure of the FRT. Things to mention:
Take the UDEs and turn them into DEs by making them positive Line up the root causes and create possible solutions (injections) Wire from the bottom up
ASK THE ROOM – what could you inject to address the root causes of the CRT you built earlier.
TIMING = 2 min
Brief explanation of negative branch reservation e.g. how to find negative branches and how to trim them.
ASK THE ROOM – what negative branches can you think of from your previous injection
TIMING GUIDELINE = 2 minutes
How CRTs and FRTs can help you through these reactions and concerns
TIMING GUIDELINE = 5 MINUTES
Skyscanner reality trees current reality trees future reality trees By Suzanne Morrison
Solving Problems using Current and
Future Reality Trees
Laz Allen Suzanne Morrison
Agile Coaches at Skyscanner
• Introduction TOC Thinking Processes
• How to find root causes using Current Reality Trees
• How to validate solutions using Future Reality Trees
• Examples, tips and lessons learned
“Any improvement is a change, but
not every change is an
To solve a problem you need to ask 3 Questions
1. What to change?
2. What to change to?
3. How to change?
Undesirable Effects (UDEs)
An UDE is something that really exists, is negative on its own
merits and has direct and continuing effect on the goal.
Examples of UDEs
“Employee morale is low”
“Attrition is increasing”
“We’re not getting our
products in front of the
customer fast enough”
“We’re not hiring fast enough”
Exercise – Undesirable Effects (UDEs)
• In groups, read the description of the “Team from Hell”.
• Using the postit notes and sharpies, write down any
undesirable effects that you see.
• This is a brainstorm, so don’t analyse anything (yet)!
Current Reality Trees
Operation Cat Drop
Credit: Sustainably Illustrated
Exercise – Cause or Effect?
We’re going to revisit the “Team from Hell” example from earlier.
• For each postit note ask the question “What does this cause?”
• Put all the effects at the top and leave the causes underneath
• Size of the group
• The power of reading the tree aloud
Exercise – build the CRT
We’re now going to build a current reality tree…
1. Choose a facilitator for your group
2. Start from the UDEs and work your way down
3. Ask “why?” to help you
4. Use the postit notes you already have or add some new ones
5. Once you’ve built the tree, practice reading a branch from top to
bottom and from bottom to top.
“An injection is a new condition or action that does
not exist in the current reality. It is something you
must make happen in order for the future reality to
unfold the way you want it to”
Layers of Change
1. We don’t have a problem
2. I disagree with the problem
3. The problem is out of my control
4. Your solution is not going to work
5. If we do this, bad things to happen…
6. We can’t do it because of…
Trees can help to
Trees can help to
Thinking Processes References
The Eli Goldratt Business Novels
The Logical Thinking Process (H. William Dettmer)
Rolling Rocks Downhill (Clark Ching)
Online Guide to Implementing TOC
Useful blog on TOC and Lean
TOC TV – online videos teaching TOC topics
Nothing you ever do might make the slightest difference