The Logical Thinking Process

Bill Dettmer is a thinking process pioneer. He's taken the methodology to new levels. His training of Six Sigma belts at Seagate Technologies has fundamentally changed the way problems are analyzed and solutions are developed. We now see Six Sigma in ways we'd never have thought of without his contributions. Our use of the thinking process is now strategic, rather than just tactical. The Dettmer approach to the thinking process is built into Seagate Six Sigma training.

Christopher M. Zephro
   Director of Worldwide Supply Chain

   (Formerly Six Sigma Senior Master Black Belt

     and Lean Master)
   Seagate Technologies

Getting strategy right isn't a matter of luck. Bill Dettmer showed us a way to apply the logical thinking process to develop a living strategy.

—Dave Kaser

    Raytheon Six Sigma Master

The logical thinking process (TP), developed by Dr. Eliyahu M. Goldratt, attacks the problems of organizational improvement from a system, rather than a process perspective. The most difficult problems any organization experiences stem from policy constraints: the rules, measures, or practices imposed on an organization— either from within or from without. Policy constraints limit the organization’s ability to perform to its maximum. By identifying and breaking such policy constraints, an organization usually realizes immediate and dramatic gains in performance.

Book: Strategic Navigation  Book: Goldratt's Theory of Constraints   Book: Manufacturing at Warp Speed  Book: Breaking the Constraints to World-Class Performance   Book: Brainpower Networking

A Five-Part Method. The Thinking Process is a five-part method for enabling anyone in any kind of organization to determine:

  • What to change?
  • What to change to?
  • How to execute the change?

Composed of five logical trees, the Thinking Process provides a structured way to “navigate” complex change.


The Current Reality Tree reveals the root causes of the undesirable effects in any system---the constraint preventing improved performance.


The "Evaporating Cloud" (a conflict resolution diagram) identifies and resolves overt and hidden conflict. Breaks chronic conflict perpetuating Root Causes of undesirable effects. Helps create new solutions.

The Future Reality Tree verifies validity of proposed solutions before resources are invested in them. Identifies possible adverse side-effects of the proposed solution and ways to prevent them.


The Prerequisite Tree uncovers obstacles to implementation of solutions. Helps develop ways around the obstacles and time-sequences the actions required to overcome them.

The Transition Tree builds a step-by-step implementation plan for each facet of the change and provides the rationale for persuading people to follow it.


  • Successfully identify the causes of personal and professional problems of any complexity using logical, verifiable cause-and-effect
  • Identify and resolve both day-to-day and chronic conflicts that hinder you or your organization from achieving your goals
  • Evaluate the potential for success before initiating change, either in your life or your organization
  • Uncover the pitfalls that could result from any change you might contemplate, and determine what you should do to "navigate" around them
  • Identify the "roadblocks" to successful change and the ways to overcome them (and in what order)
  • Lay out a detailed implementation plan for change and persuade others to help with it
  • Improve the odds of successful change before you even begin taking action
  • Quickly identify questionable or ill-considered proposals from others



  • Senior executives with strategic or tactical management responsibilities
  • Internal or external consultants responsible for complex problem-solving
  • Project managers faced with a rapidly changing environment
  • Managers with responsibility for Total Quality or Continuous Improvement within their organizations

INSTRUCTOR. H. William Dettmer, formerly an adjunct faculty member, University of Southern California Institute of Safety and Systems Management. Author of Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints: A Systems Approach to Continuous Improvement and Breaking the Constraints to World-Class Performance.

WHEN AND WHERE? Six one-day sessions (approximately 54 seminar hours) in 2 sessions of 3 days each, or 1 session of 6 days. See accompanying table (below) for a detailed course outline. Two hardcover texts, supplementary materials, and computer software are provided.

Dedicated courses scheduled by appointment at your organization (minimum of six participants). Open enrollment courses scheduled periodically by popular demand.

First Day

Second Day

Third Day

  • Introduction to Cause-and-Effect and Categories of Legitimate Reservation (3 hours)
  • Review exercises on Categories of Legitimate Reservation (1 hour)
  • Current Reality Tree Exercise (1 hour)
  • Complete/review CRT exercises (1 hour)
  • Select topic for student Current Reality Tree (:30 minutes)
  • Begin supervised CRT work on student-selected topic (1.5 hours)
  • Complete logical scrutiny and review of CRTs by instructor and others (:30 minutes)
  • Introduction to Evaporating Cloud (1 hour)
  • Complete and review EC exercises (1 hour)
  • Begin supervised EC work on student-selected topic (1.5 hours)
Lunch Lunch Lunch
  • Introduction to Intermediate Objectives Maps (:30 minutes)
  • Development of students' IO Maps (1 hour)
  • Introduction to Current Reality Trees (2 hours)
  • Continue supervised work on Students' CRTs (2.5 hours)
  • [Begin logical scrutiny and review of CRTs by instructor and others]
  • Complete review and scrutiny of all ECs. (2 .5 hours)
  • Introduction to Future Reality Trees and Negative Branches (1 hour)

Fourth Day

Fifth Day

Sixth Day

  • Complete and review FRT and NB exercises (1 hour)
  • Begin supervised FRT work on student-selected topic (3 hours)
  • Introduction to Prerequisite Trees; complete & review exercises on Prerequisite Tree (2 hours)
  • Begin supervised PRT work on student-selected topic (2 hours)
  • Begin supervised TT work on student-selected topic (4 hours)
  • [Logical scrutiny and review of CRTs by instructor and others]
Lunch Lunch Lunch
  • Complete supervised work and scrutiny of FRTs on student-selected topic (4 hours)
  • Complete supervised work and scrutiny of PRT on student-selected topic (3 hours)
  • Introduction to Transition Trees (:30 minutes)
  • Complete/review exercise on Transition Trees (:30 minutes)
  • Presenting logic trees to executive decision makers (1 hour)
  • Using the thinking process to persuade (2 hours)


The logical Thinking Process helped both my company and our clients set and accomplish strategic goals in a very straightforward fashion. Bill's books are the best and clearest on the subject of TOC; taking his courses helped to cement the concepts and apply them immediately.  The course activities were like participating in a well-facilitated offsite planning session.

—Paul Selden, Ph.D.

   President and CEO, Performance Management, Inc.

   Author, Sales Process Engineering (ASQ Quality Press)


In 2004, The TOC Centre of Australia (TOCCA) brought Bill Dettmer to Australia for help in developing a strategy for the company using the Thinking Process methods in the framework developed by Bill in his book Strategic Navigation. In March 2004, Bill spent 5 days with all of our consultants and managed to quickly tap into the locked up knowledge stored in the heads and hearts of the people who make TOCCA tick!

    Bill’s excellent facilitation and profound knowledge of business allowed us to quickly start dealing with the major issues facing the company and agree on the few root causes of our under-performance relative to the goals we had set ourselves. We developed a detailed future reality tree, logically stepping through all things necessary and sufficient to delivering on sustainable profitable growth. This tree is printed and mounted on the wall of our office, a constant source and inspiration for what we have to do to achieve our goals.

    What was particularly gratifying about Bill’s facilitation was that at the same time as we were developing the logic of our current and future reality we were also learning from a true master about the use and real power of the Thinking Process tools of the Theory of Constraints. The icing on the cake must be Bill’s friendly attitude and clear love of his subject—all resulting in a genuine commitment from all the participants in the exercise.


—David V. Hodes, Principal

    TOC Centre of Australia