Manufacturing Breakthrough Blog

Translating Company Goals into an Improvement Plan

Friday November 13, 2015


In my last post the new CEO and his staff completed the construction of their company’s first ever Goal Tree/IO Map.  When we left off, the team thought they were finished with this logic tree, but the CEO informed them that they were not.  In this post I will demonstrate how to take the Goal Tree/IO Map and turn it into an improvement plan for your company.  As a refresher, here is the final product of their session.

As I have stated in previous posts, I like to learn a new tool and make it my own and the Goal Tree/IO Map fits into this model.  Bill Dettmer never intended to use this tool the way I will be presenting it to you, but this method has absolutely worked for organizations  in which I have used it in this way.  We will now continue the dialogue between the CEO and his team.

The Case Study Continued

Bright and early the next morning, the team began filing into their conference room, full of anticipation on just what they would do with their completed Goal Tree/IO Map.  The CEO hadn’t given them any instructions on how to prepare for today’s work, so they were all eager to have the events of the day unfold.  When everyone was seated, the CEO welcomed them and offered his congratulations again on the great job they had done the day before.  “Good morning everyone,” he said as everyone responded with a “good morning” back to him.  As he scanned the room, he noticed that there was one person missing, the Junior Accountant.  When he asked the CFO where she was, he explained that she was working on the monthly report and wouldn’t be joining them today.  The CEO looked the CFO square in his eyes and told him that nothing was more important than what they were going to do today.  “Go get her!” he stated emphatically.  The CFO left and returned minutes later with the Junior Accountant and the CEO welcomed her.  He then said, “We created this as a complete team and we’re going to finish it as a complete team.”

The CEO explained, “When the Goal Tree/IO Map was originally created by Bill Dettmer [1], it was to be used as a precursor to the creation of a Current Reality Tree (CRT).  That is, he used it as the first logic tree in TOC’s Thinking Processes to help create the CRT.”  He continued, “And although I fully support this approach, I have found a way to use it to accelerate the development of an improvement plan.”  The CEO passed out copies of the completed Goal Tree/IO Map and began.

“I want everyone to study our logic tree, focusing on the lower level NC’s first,” he explained.  “As we look at these NC’s, I want everyone to think about how we are doing with each of these,” he continued.  “We’re going to use a color-code scheme to actually evaluate where we stand on each one,” he said.  “If you believe that what we have in place is good and that it doesn’t need to be improved, I want you to color it green.  Likewise, if we have something in place, but it needs to be improved, color it yellow.  And finally, if each NC is either not in place or is not “working” in its current configuration, color it red,” he explained.  “Does everyone understand?” he asked and everyone nodded in agreement.

The CFO raised his hand and asked, “How will we use our color-coded tree?”  “Good question.  Once we have reviewed our Goal, CSF’s and NC’s we will start with the red entities first and develop plans to turn them into either yellows or greens.  Likewise, we’ll then look at the yellows and develop plans to turn them into green ones,” he explained.  As he was explaining his method the CEO could see heads nodding in the affirmative meaning that everyone understood his instructions.  With that, the CEO passed out green, yellow and red pencils.  “I want everyone to do this individually first and then we’ll discuss each one openly until we arrive at a consensus,” he explained.  “While you’re considering the state of each entity, I also want everyone to also think about a way we can measure many of these in the future,” he said.  “I’ll be back in an hour, so please feel free to discuss your color selections as a group,” he added. With the instructions complete, the team began reviewing their Goal Tree/IO Map and applying the appropriate colors to each entity.

After an hour, the CEO returned and asked how the session was coming.  The Plant Manager spoke first, “I was amazed at how much disagreement we had initially, but after we discussed each item, we eventually came to an agreement on how we believe we’re doing.  Would you like to see our final product?” he asked.

“Did you also discuss what kind of metrics we might use to measure how we’re doing?” asked the CEO.  “Yes we did,” said the CFO.  “And?” the CEO asked.  “We need to do more work on that,” he answered.  “So what’s next?” asked the CFO.  “Let’s take a break and come back in an hour and I’ll explain how we can use this tree to develop our final improvement plan,” said the CEO.


Next Time

In my next posting we will take the completed, color-coded Goal Tree/IO Map and show you how to turn it into an improvement plan. We will also demonstrate how to develop performance metrics that support the improvement plan.  As always, if you have any questions or comments about any of my posts, leave me a message and I will respond. 

Until next time.

Bob Sproull



[1] Dettmer, H. William. The Logical Thinking Process: A Systems Approach to Complex Problem Solving. Milwaukee, WI: ASQ Quality Press, 2007

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