This website covers knowledge management, personal effectiveness, theory of constraints, amongst other topics. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the owner, Jack Vinson, and those of the commenters.

Thinking for a Change: review

Thinking is Timeless

Lisa Scheinkopf's Thinking for a Change: Putting the TOC Thinking Processes to Use came out over ten years ago, but it does a good job of describing and summarizing the Theory of Constraints (TOC) thinking processes.  As is often my bent on reading a business book, I couldn't help applying the ideas to my current business situation.  In this example, I filled up several pages in my notebook with partial trees and other notes inspired by discussions with a colleague this week.

Going along with the applied feel to the book, each thinking tool is treated as a stand-alone topic, with the specific recommendation on when to use the specific thinking tool.  The examples used throughout the book have a real-life feel to them, rather than something polished and perfect.  In fact, several of the examples come from personal life, rather than business life.  And it is only at the end of the book where she describes how the tools can all work together to help think through major changes, helping to understand What to Change; What to Change To; and How to Cause the Change.  Scheinkopf also has a brief section on how to use the Current Reality Tree (CRT) as a device for communicating with others: the Communications CRT, which is an interesting topic.

That said, one quibble I had with the book was that the order of introduction of each thinking tool was a bit random.  This included one chapter where she used an example for a Future Reality Tree (FRT) that came from the Current Reality Tree (CRT) example discussed in a subsequent chapter.  And the graphics used for the example trees felt a little clumsy.  I don't know if this is due to the age of the book and capabilities of the tree-drawing packages.  But that also gets back to the practical nature of the writing: use what you have to draw these things: paper, the drawing package in your word processor

The book has a different feel as compared to Dettmer's more recently published, The Logical Thinking Processes (my review).  Dettmer's book was more academic in feel (and thicker), and it seems somehow more thorough in the treatment.  While both books provided step-by-step instructions, the process for the individual thinking tools was clearer with Scheinkopf.  I also like Scheinkopf's description of the mechanism for challenging the thinking trees: there are challenges associated with what has been explicitly written (the boxes and the arrows), and there are challenges associated with what has not been written (additional causes; insufficient causes; predicted effects).  I preferred Dettmer's treatment and recommendations for the Prerequisite Tree (PrT) better, and I see why he recommends collapsing the Transition Tree into the PrT.  Rather than reiterate my take on all the thinking tools, just have a look at my review of Dettmer's book.  Or search for "TOC Thinking Processes" for other descriptions of the tools.

[Photo: "Thinking is Timeless" by Papyrarri]

Process, collaboration, or both

Invisible work - spray paint needed