In the workshop I present an outcome of six years of development work with companies helping them understand the inherent logic of the S&T Trees and techniques of constructing it. I present rules, examples, and exercises that I have developed in the four areas of constructing an S&T Tree:
- the content of the entities in the S&T boxes;
- the relationship between the entities within the same box;
- the vertical relationship between the S&T boxes;
- the S&T structure.
The Strategy and Tactic (S&T) Tree is the most comprehensive tool in the portfolio of TOC logical tools. The standard S&T Trees were developed by Dr. Eli Goldratt and cover major TOC logistical applications. They are available through various TOC resources like TOCICO, Goldratt Consulting, or Goldratt Research Labs. Standard S&T Trees provide managers with a good foundation and starting point to learn the essence and structure of standard TOC logistical solutions, and how these solutions are reflected in relevant S&T Trees.
However, we often see that when there is a need to adapt an existing S&T Tree to a specific company, or to build a fully customized S&T Tree from scratch, this represents a major challenge for many companies, managers, and TOC practitioners.
The frequent questions are:
- How do I know what exactly I should write in each entity type?
- How can I be sure that what I wrote is actually this type of entity?
- How do Strategies and Tactics in boxes on different levels relate between themselves?
Those who attempt building their own S&T Tree often find it very frustrating. The final outcome is quite often not up to the high expectations the management team had when starting the construction of their S&T. One of the reasons why constructing an S&T Tree is so challenging is that this tool has the fewest recorded guidelines and instructions on how to construct it. In 2016, I wrote a book A Good Strategy & Tactic Tree that is aimed at closing this gap. I addressed the issue of common difficulties and confusion working with S&T in 2011 in the my article “Some Thoughts about Populating and Communicating an S&T Tree,” in the Goldratt Schools book Leading People Through Change.
Before the S&T Tree was formalized in the format well known to everyone professionally involved with TOC, the TOC body of knowledge already had a set of well-developed Thinking Process trees that record:
- the analysis of the present state – the Current Reality Tree (CRT)
- the logical check of the validity of the developed solution to cause the future state – the Future Reality Tree (FRT)
- the roadmap to remove the identified obstacles to implement the solution – the Prerequisite Tree (PrT)
- the transfer of the knowledge and logic for the new set of instructions to implement the solution – the Transition Tree (TrT)
While the trees for recording the current state (CRT) and the future state (FRT) are comprehensive and describe all aspects of the analyzed part of the system – as is and as it will be, the PrT and TrT each cover only a specific facet related to moving from the current state to a future state. The PrT deals specifically with obstacles, but does not speak about the actions that do not result from dealing with obstacles; the TrT only transfers instructions for achieving individual intermediate objectives (IOs) on the PrT.
A comprehensive tool was needed to cover the whole system in the process of transition from the current reality to the future reality – a tool that would provide a framework for the structured recording of the steps needed to be taken in transition and would give their logical justification. This brought about the development of the Strategy & Tactics Tree.
The biggest difference between the S&T Tree and other trees, however, is in the structural content of boxes.
While each box on CRT, FRT, PrT, TrT contains only ONE entity – a short sentence that must NOT include any cause-effect relationship inside it,
In the S&T each box:
- contains FIVE different types of entities;
- these different entities are recorded in five rows, one below another within the box;
- the entities inside an S&T box do not have any arrows linking them in any way;
- an entity may include several sentences;
- an entity may include a cause and effect relationship.
The difference between the content of the boxes in S&T and compared to CRT/FRT/PrT/TrT is dictated by the purpose of the boxes.
The purpose of a box in a CRT, FRT, PrT and TrT is to establish a cause-effect relationship between examined entities and to indicate sufficiency within a cluster of entities.
The purpose of each box on the S&T Tree is dictated by the fact that every box is a step on the way the system takes to achieve the ultimate goal – the box at the very top. The scale of the activities that every step lists explicitly or implies goes from very global and generic on higher levels, to gradually narrower and more detailed with each lower level.