Current Reality Tree (CRT) Example from “It’s not Luck”

In the book It’s not Luck Goldratt’s hero Alex Rogo is creating a medium-sized Current Reality Tree. I re-created the CRT in Vithanco. 

The CRT from “It’s not Luck”

When creating the tree from the book I realised a few things:

  • Goldratt didn’t fully define the tree in the book. I needed to make some connections up for myself. Please let me know if I went wrong. 
  • Goldratt didn’t connect UDE #11 at all. If you have read the book then you know that it was the task of Alex Rogo to connect all UDEs. 
  • This seems to me to be the obvious example CRT. However, I couldn’t find anyone who had published this example. 

Fun fact: I only recently read It’s not Luck for the first time. This is actually quite funny as I have used the TOC Thinking Processes for quite some time but I was simply not aware that they were presented in this book by Goldratt. Instead I read the Thinking with Flying Logic a manuscript that is delivered together with the really good Flying Logic software (which was a huge influence for Vithanco). Furthermore did I read Lisa Scheinkopf’s Thinking for a Change. I even read Dettmer’s executive version book

However, I am happy that I now read the book as it is a useful introduction. Clearly, the book has a message and is therefore not a true novel and some of the examples are more questionable than others, but that is besides the point. I highly recommend the book. 

Diagram Logic

Vithanco diagrams can have an associated logic. They are guiding you to the right thinking. Vithanco has 3 different Logic Types. 

NameMeaning
NoneNo logic associated
Sufficient CauseSufficient Cause means that from one statement the next statement follows. 
Necessary ConditionNecessary Condition means that each of the predecessor statements need to be fulfilled in order for a statement to be true. 

So, in a sufficient cause diagram, the following makes sense:

Sufficient Cause

Clearly, when I eat I am less hungry than before. Being less hungry is a direct consequence. Eating is sufficient to reduce hunger (ignoring some psychological effects). In comparison, preparing food is not sufficient. You can prepare food and not eat it. That leads to necessary conditions. 

Necessary Conditions

It is not sufficient to be 18 years old, you need as well in order to be registered in order to vote. Unfortunately, this diagram would not tell you if there is a 3 condition to be met in order to be able to vote, like living in a democracy. 

How to use this?

  • First and foremost, it should influence the way you think about the diagram. (Remember, Vithanco stands for “Visual Thinking and Communication”).
  • Choosing the right logic makes the model more comprehensive. You can use And/Or junctors in order to add more expressiveness to the diagram. 
  • Theory of Constraints (TOC) uses these two diagram types extensively. TOC is based on designing logically correct diagrams. 
  • If you drag from a node to a line in a sufficient cause diagram then Vithanco will create a AND junctor for you, do the same in a necessary condition diagram Vithanco will create a OR junctor. Both junctors are part of the Basics Domain. 
  • In the future Vithanco will use the logic type for diagram reviews. More on that at a later time. 

The diagram’s logic is shown in the upper right corner, in a non-obtrusive way. If you want to change it then need to go into the settings dialog and choose “Behaviour” in the settings dialog.

How to change the Diagram’s Logic

Then choose the intended logic.

Change the Logic here

In case you wonder, the Application is referencing this article. 

Dark Mode is coming

“Dark Mode” or “Dark Appearance” is a feature introduced with macOS 10.14 Mojave. I always preferred to write white on black (or similar) on my computer instead of white on black. Apple seems to think I am not alone with this preference and introduced a bright on dark appearance (“Dark Aqua”) for the whole of macOS. 

It was no question for me that Vithanco needed a dark mode. And I believe that the result was worth it. 

A small Current Reality Tree. Left side with normal appearance, right side with dark appearance

It took me a bit longer than expected. Simply because I needed to keep two sets of colours aligned across several node styles. I didn’t know I had so many colours. 🙂

One of the consequences was that I needed to review exporting the diagram to an image. The old export was unaware of appearance. The new export creates light appearance PNG, JPG or PDF. But I added as well “Dark PNG”, and “Dark JPG” export. 

When will it be released? Soon. My task list became very short over the last weeks. I would expect a release of the new Vithanco and an update to all the other versions this month. 

Impact Mapping Coming

I like visual thinking and whenever I come across a new method then I am make notes for future usage. One of these is the Impact Mapping, developed by Gojko Adzic. Impact Mapping is a nice quick way to identify the best approach to achieve a goal. 

The basic structure of impact mapping is very simple. You start with a goal, identify all the potential actors, analyse how they can help or hinder you, and then identify the solutions that might help or prevent your actors in order to achieve the goal. 

Impact Mapping in Vithanco

This is so simple and yet so powerful that it had to find it’s way into Vithanco. Right now it’s only available on my computer, but soon it will be released. 

In case you want to know more, here are two useful sites. The reference can be found here: https://www.impactmapping.org. A quick overview can be found at Magnus Dahlgren’s website:

A quick guide

Why I wrote Vithanco

Vithanco stands for “Visual Thinking and Communication”. What does it mean?

I have experienced that visual focus helps me thinking. Without a focus it’s difficult to concentrate. Sometimes I only need to start writing. But most often I start drawing. It’s like the old proverb “a picture says more than a thousand words”. The same is true for the outcome: the diagram/picture I drew tells more than a long paragraph.

Most times I draw boxes and connect them. Only by putting concepts into relation to other concepts does the structure of my thinking become really clear to me. Then I realised that the paper is soon getting to messy because the diagram evolves. So, in the past I tried software like Visio and I realised that I spend too much time wondering about the layout instead of focusing on the content. You add a box somewhere and suddenly you need to rearrange large pieces of the previous drawing which is used as a welcome distraction. 

Then I found Flying Logic. Flying Logic did the layout for me taking a huge distraction away, allowing focus on the content. I loved the application and I would be still using Flying Logic if it:

  • wouldn’t be too cluttered,
  • would it be more guiding through the graph creation and
  • wouldn’t the nodes all look the same.

The second point is particularly important. Flying Logic was written to support the Theory of Constraints (TOC) Thinking Processes. But these are tricky to learn without guidance. And Flying Logic didn’t give that guidance. Actually, that is not completely true. It comes with a long and useful document on the matter. In any case, I needed more flexibility. Hence, I created my own software.

Some of the key Concepts of this Blog Post

Use any Vithanco application and you will see that it supports you to focus on the content and creates beautiful diagrams. Vithanco uses “Domains” to define a visual language that restricts the diagram to a “valid” graph. So, if you are working on an IBIS diagram you will only be offered the suitable IBIS nodes for the given situation. This results in less distraction as I don’t need to think about the structure any longer. I can truly focus on the content. And yes, I try not to have a minimal user interface – the application itself shouldn’t distract you neither. 

And if the content is right the ideas will come through more easily. Try it out. Communicate your ideas to someone based on as simple diagram. They will grasp your ideas faster as they can use eyes and ears to follow you and to understand you. 

What can you do with Vithanco?

Vithanco is a visual graph editor. The graph I am referring to is a graph made of a set of nodes (or vertices) and edges (or connections). I do not refer to a chart. Graphs can be used in many ways. 

A simple graph

On the first look Vithanco might look like other visualisation software like Microsoft Visio. Like in Visio will you have different shapes (nodes) and connect them.  However, Vithanco has a different approach in two important ways:

  • Vithanco layouts the graph for you. There are some ways how to influence the outcome but you cannot position a specific node to a specific location. The location of each note is calculated based on the relationship of the nodes in a way that the graph is easily understandable.
  • Vithanco provides you with a graphical language that restricts what nodes can be connected to each other and hence guides you through the creation of a valid graph.  

The 2nd point needs more explanation and will explain Vithanco well. Each Vithanco diagram is created according to a “Domain”. A domain is a set of NodeTypes that define the looks of the different nodes and which node types can be connected via an edge.  Let’s use a Vithanco graph example to explain. The graph below was drawn with Vithanco, using the Concept Map Domain. The graph shows key concepts of Vithanco. Concept Maps are easy to read as edges are always from concepts (boxes) to relationships (text without framing), and from relationships to concepts. Start with a concept and create a sentence, like “(A) Graph consists of Nodes and Edges” . 

Key Concepts of Vithanco

The Concept Map Domain contains basically two node types: “Concept(s)” and “Relation(s)”. These two node types have different graphical representations (with box and without) and they can only be connected to the other node type. Hence, the Concept Maps Domain doesn’t allow to draw an edge from a concept to another concept or from a relation to another relation.  And if you wonder, I created two different concept node types. There is an 2nd coloured node type just to emphasise key concepts.

Have a second look at the graph above. If you understand the graph then you will understand Vithanco. Follow the lines: “Node Types define valid Edges”, “Edges connect two Nodes”, and “Graph can have Clusters”. Clusters are an option element to cluster some nodes. The diagram above has two clusters: “Visual Elements” and “Meta Model”. The Meta Model is what makes Vithanco special. The Visual Elements is what you see as output.