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TLS Continuum: The Missing Link

Last week in our weekly blog post we talked about what the TLS Continuum was, however I left out of the discussion a valuable point about what is missing from most continuous process improvement efforts. That missing element is critical thinking. Hey I get it, it is just not you. Our next generation can’t critically think either. The base of the TLS Continuum is critical thinking so it is important that we understand the role it plays in process improvement.

The TLS Continuum process begins with the implementation of seven distinct tools. It is critical that you understand that these are not evidence-based resulting from experimentation. These tools derive from thinking about your current processes. The goal is to compile a view of the organization as to a) what to change? 2) What to change it into?; and 3) How to cause the change?

The first tool is the current realty tree or the CRT. The current reality tree assesses the current state of the organization. It looks at your current process and looks for the undesirable effects and finds the root causes of the undesirable effects. This use of critical thinking tools enables us to identify the obstacle. It identifies what needs to be changed. The process is displayed in a decision tree format. The second tool is the evaporating cloud that looks at the conflicts in the solutions. It is these conflicts, which can cause the obstacles to appear. As you can see from the image at the end of this blog, the organization is presented with two options to resolve the issue. The jagged line to the right of the diagram represents the obstacle. The diagram is read that in order to obtain the intended result (block to the far left) you need to do this. In order to do this you must do this. What becomes clear in reviewing the results is that you can’t get the upper results if you do the lower results. The third tool is the Future Reality Tree; which is very similar to the future state map. It tells us what we need to change the process to. It also identifies the consequences of the changes. It provides time for you to remove the negative results before implication of the solutions. The fourth tool in the set is the Negative Branch Reservations. The purpose of this tool is to identify the ramifications of the decisions you are contemplating. Is the decision going to make the situation worse or improve the process? The fifth tool is the Prerequisite Tree, which lays out for the organization what you need to achieve before implementing your change objective. It also tells you what lies in the way of the prerequisite objectives. The sixth tool is the transition tree. The tree describe sin detail what the organization needs to do to change the process.

Each of these tools is a part of the critical thinking process towards continuous process improvement. Granted I only skimmed over the tools as you could do a whole seminar one ach of them. The critical point here is that our HR professionals and more important our children have either forgotten how to look at an issue with a critical eye or they have never been taught. Educating to a test does not generate critical thinking. Educating with out the opportunity to explore options does not lead to critical thinking.

Our organizations today are faced with some major issues in dealing with the deliverance of our products or services to the customer. We cannot hope to resolve the issue by brushing over the results or the causes without exploring them deeply and thinking about the ramifications of both doing something and doing nothing. The sustainability of your organization is dependent on implementing the missing link in the process improvement effort – Critical thinking. In an attempt to resolve this dilemma there is an organization whose basics are the introduction of critical thinking to our organizations. It is called TOCICO or the Theory of Constraints International Certification Organization. On their website are videos which explain this issue more in depth.If you want a successful continuous process improvement effort don’t exclude the ability to think through the process. If you have forgotten how to critically think about an issue go back and relearn the skill. It will be the key to your success in implementing the TLS Continuum.

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