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🦉 10x curiosity - The Thinking Process and Evaporating clouds


🦉 10x curiosity

January 14 · Issue #191 · View online

🦉 A weekly sample of links that made me think 🤔

Also published in 10x Curiosity
So much of the work of Eliyahu Goldratt’s work provides inspiration to challenge the status quo of your work environment and realise significant productivity and profit improvements in a system. Starting with outlining the steps to to identify and optimise around a bottle neck in “The Goal”, Goldratt brings to the world additional tools known as his Logical Thinking Process, introduced in more detail in his business novel “Its Not Luck
David Hodes writes in More Than Just Work (p108)
Goldratt’s Logical Thinking Process provides a framework for navigating complexity, helping us uncover those few, inherently simple root causes that manifest all the undesirable effects of the system at large. When we use logic as a basis for decision- making, the Logical Thinking Process is a powerful ally which helps us, in the first place, understand the difference between
‘necessary condition’ and ‘sufficient cause’ logic. Indeed, one of the most common mistakes of almost every person I have worked with is to assume that what is necessary is, therefore, sufficient.
The evaporating cloud or conflict resolution diagram is an excellent tool for systematically surfacing and challenging conflicts. It forces the user to lay out the perceived logic behind a proposed solution and dig into assumptions that place it in conflict or tension with alternative solutions. Once these assumptions are made clear, solutions that invalidate or “evaporate” the assumptions are then found.
“The Evaporating Clouds method does not strive to reach a compromise solution, rather it concentrates on invalidating the problem itself.” Eliyahu M. Goldratt
The evaporating cloud has five elements: an objective (green), two requirements for achieving that objective (Blue), and two prerequisites for satisfying those requirements (Red). The boxes are highlighted in red with the arrows as these requirements are normally in conflict with one another.

The Punk guide to the logical thinking process
The Punk guide to the logical thinking process
Each branch is read from left to right — “In order to [achieve strategic objective]… we must [do y] which requires us to [implement x]”
The general process for applying an evaporating cloud to problem-solving is as follows:
  1. Identify the type of problem
  2. Write a storyline of this problem in a factual, objective way.
  3. Build the Cloud
  4. Check the logical statements of the Cloud and make necessary corrections and upgrades.
  5. Surface the assumptions behind the logical connections to find the one that is supporting the conflict.
  6. Construct your solution and check it for a win-win.
In the definitive book “The Logical Thinking Process” William Dettmer outlines in Chapter 4 an example to illustrate how the process works.
First starting with a common problem — how to make a business as profitable as possible. Two branches to achieve this objective are to work to increase short term or long term productivity. One way to achieve this is through changes to the business workforce. Either upskilling them for long term payoff or making them redundant for a short term benefit. And there in lies the conflict that needs to be explored in more detail. Can both long term and short term profitability be achieved?
Credit - Dettmer - The Logical Thinking Process
Credit - Dettmer - The Logical Thinking Process
Writing down assumptions reveals a number of areas that might be challenged.
Credit - Dettmer - The Logical Thinking Process
Credit - Dettmer - The Logical Thinking Process
And in highlighting these assumptions potential solutions reveal themselves which might include:
  • Move employees from one area of the business to another
  • Introduce a new product line to take advantage of excess employee capacity
  • Retrain employees from one area of the business to another.
Using the evaporating cloud process to firstly make clear the source of conflict and then to explore the underlying assumptions creating this perceived conflict is a great way to come to new solutions that might not have been previously identified. Often creating tremendous value and win — win outcomes for all involved.
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