Current Reality Tree

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The CRT describes the system, as it is today, to help find the core conflict. The core conflict is a root cause of many UDEs. You start the CRT process with UDEs, which are those things that you feel "really bother me" about the current reality. For example, "It really bothers me that projects overrun the schedule." Chapter 3 described the UDEs for project management.

You then select three of the UDEs to develop the core conflict. You do that by developing each UDE conflict and then combining the three conflicts to discern the underlying generic conflict that leads to all three. Chapter 3 also illustrates the combination of Evaporating Clouds for project management. The CRT derives the cause to a core conflict that leads to most (and usually all) of the UDEs. A core conflict is not the core conflict. It is an important conflict and, therefore, a good, high-leverage place to focus on changing the process.

The Evaporating Conflict Cloud: A Daily Tool!

In my opinion, the Evaporating Cloud is one of Goldratt's best inventions. It is a very powerful conflict resolution and decision making tool. You can use it to make decisions on your own. It helps you to understand the reasons why you are conflicted on a decision, and it helps you identify assumptions that will lead to a successful decision. You can use it to work our conflicts between yourself and others. You can use it to lead team-conflict resolution. You can use it to present your thinking on how to resolve conflicts. Hardly a day goes by in which I do not at least mentally think through the steps of the Evaporating Cloud for some problem or another.

Figure 11.3 illustrates the base of the project system CRT, containing the core conflict developed in Chapter 3 (see Figure 3.13). It illustrates the Evaporating Cloud in sufficiency tree format, highlighting the assumptions that lead to the conflict. Reading from the bottom, "If everyone wants projects to succeed, and if increasing competition drives managers and clients to demand projects to get the most scope for the least cost within the shortest schedule, then successful projects must deliver increased scope and reduced cost and schedule." Continuing up the tree, "If successful projects must deliver increased scope and reduced cost and schedule, and if the only way to reduce the schedule of critical-path plans is to reduce the duration of tasks on the critical path, and the only way to reduce cost is to reduce task cost, then there is pressure to reduce each task estimate."

You can read the right side of Figure 11.3 up to entity 9, which states, "There is pressure to include contingency in each task estimate. Including contingency conflicts with reducing task estimates, thus leading to the fights that surround project planning."

Note that I left out the phrase "more and more" in the above summary. The phrase becomes applicable as you traverse the tree over and over in the same organization. Note where some of the UDEs, which are conclusions farther up in the tree, feed into the entities at the base of the tree, such as UDE-1, -2, and -3 feeding all the way down to entity 9.

Figure 3.14 illustrates the notional connection of the UDEs that flow from the base of the tree. The logic of the tree is not evident at this summary level. The actual tree includes many steps of intervening logic that describe how organizational beliefs and actions lead from one UDE to the next. The key point of Figure 3.14 is that all the UDEs in the tree are causally related and derive from the core conflict.

There are fights over the estimates to include in project plans

There are fights over the estimates to include in project plans

There is pressure to reduce each task estimate

There is pressure to include (more and more) contingency in each task estimate

There is pressure to reduce each task estimate

The only way to reduce the schedule of critical path plans is to reduce the duration of tasks on the critical path, and the only way to reduce cost is to reduce task cost

There is pressure to include (more and more) contingency in each task estimate

Resources know they have to account for uncertainty in task estimates due to common cause variation in task performance

Resources know they have to account for uncertainty in task estimates due to common cause variation in task performance

UDE-9

Successful projects must deliver increased scope and reduced cost and schedule

UDE-9

Successful projects must deliver increased scope and reduced cost and schedule

Increasing competition drives managers and clients (more and more) to demand projects to get the most scope for the least cost within the shortest schedule schedule estimates

Increasing competition drives managers and clients (more and more) to demand projects to get the most scope for the least cost within the shortest schedule

Everyone wants projects to suceed schedule estimates r 4

Most companies judge project resource (including subcontractors)

performance based on delivery of full scope within cost and time estimates

Figure 11.3 The single-project CRT chart base identifies the core conflict.

The generic project-management CRT cannot represent your environment. I have worked with companies that have started from very mature project-management systems, as well as with companies with a simplistic approach to project planning and control. Interestingly, it seems that organizations with the simplistic approaches are more able to adapt to CCPM. (Some argue that any degree of discipline would have helped as much. I dispute that claim because these are all highly multitasked environments, and conventional project management would only exacerbate that problem.) It is not unusual to find people whose idea of a project plan is a Gantt chart with no task logic and only a final due date demanded by someone outside the project organization. In a few months, it is possible to lead those people to have effective critical-chain project plans, buffer management, and a growing sense of success.

On the other hand, I have worked with organizations that have very detailed project plans (with thousands of activities) that, after six months, are still unable to resource-load their plans. In one case, the organization neglected to address the fact that the parts of the organization necessary to develop the complete project reported (collectively) to 13 different vice presidents in the organization, 12 of whom had not bought in to the changes necessary to implement CCPM. Guess which vice president was replaced three months into the process. I think you can predict the result.

The CRT: Your Universal Problem Solver

You can apply the CRT to any problem you wish to solve. It is a great tool to gain stakeholder alignment on the problem to be solved on your project. You can also use it if your project gets into trouble to help uncover the core conflict that drives the current UDEs and to craft an effective recovery plan.

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Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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  • Max
    How to use Current Reality Tree (CRT)?
    7 months ago

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