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Discussion Forum > Using DIT with TOC

Here is the simple focusing process I've been combining with DIT. It's based on concepts from TOC (Theory of Constraints).

1. Identify your goal.
2. Define boundaries around the scope of work required to achieve more of the goal.
3. Relentlessly reduce the work required to achieve more of the goal.
4. Identify the core problem that prevents you from doing (3).
5. Identify the underlying conflict that causes the core problem to exist and persist.
6. Surface the assumptions behind the conflict.
7. Identify the false assumptions that can be most quickly eliminated, thus eliminating the core problem.
8. Take action based on (7).
9. Based on the new reality, assess whether the goal should be changed or clarified, and repeat from (1).

DIT is perfectly suited for managing the work in (2), (3), and (8).
March 13, 2017 at 20:34 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
Thanks Seraphim, I was wondering how TOC worked.
March 14, 2017 at 19:27 | Unregistered CommenterErin
Still working on this. I think I found a way to express it more clearly (and for anyone familiar with TOC, this should look a lot more like TOC's Five Focusing Steps!):

1. Identify your core problem [NOTE: don't start with identifying your goal!] [*]

2. Focus on resolving the core problem (usually by identifying the underlying conflict, surfacing the assumptions that cause that conflict to exist and persist, and identifying the false assumptions that can be challenged most effectively).

3. Subordinate everything else in your world to the above decision.

In time mgmt, this subordination takes the form of minimizing everything else you are doing. Keep it limited and only enough so that you don't create a new core problem because you've given things TOO little attention. And then maximize your attention and focus on the core problem.

This is where I use DIT. All the routine that must continue day to day, all the tasks that I need to deal with, they all go on the DIT list. The strategy is to minimize the time and attention required to get it all done, so that I can focus more and more of my time and attention on resolving the core problem.

4. All along the way, but especially after you've got some traction with resolving your core problem, assess whether the core problem has changed, and repeat from (1).

[*] Don't start with trying to identify or clarify your goal. Your goal is implicit, you know it intuitively, even if unconsciously or not clearly expressed. This is enough to get started and identify the core problem. The goal will become clearer through the process, especially in the process of resolving underlying conflicts. The best tool for that is the Evaporating Cloud, which forces you to articulate your goal, at least enough to articulate the conflict.
March 16, 2017 at 7:06 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
I'm a bit worried about not identifying the underlying goal, but can see locking on to the wrong goal would make things harder. (I've probably done that many times. So much easier to make the goal finish some mechanical thing you've already started than look deeper.) You say, "The goal will become clearer through the process, especially in the process of resolving underlying conflicts." That's reassuring.
March 16, 2017 at 17:39 | Registered CommenterCricket
I assume the Evaporating Cloud is on the website you listed in the other thread?
March 16, 2017 at 17:40 | Registered CommenterCricket
Yes, there is a good discussion of the Evaporating Cloud process on that website:

Regarding goals... I think it's been beat into our heads that goals must be "SMART" (specific, measurable, etc.) that it's easy to over-intellectualize them, and identify the goal we think we should have, rather than the goal we really do have, at an intuitive level, even if we haven't fully articulated it. It can be very difficult to see it clearly, let alone articulate it. And when we try to make them "SMART", the result is an artificial construct that actually obscures our intuition and doesn't allow us to go deep enough to uncover the real goal.

One nice thing about the Current Reality Tree is it focuses on problems -- complaints -- worries -- issues -- the undesirable effects or UDEs -- which we usually have a much easier time articulating! It might be hard to get started, but once I've written down a few things, I quickly get on a roll. "Oh yeah, what about this! And don't forget that!!"

Once you have 5 or 10 of these UDEs, the Current Reality Tree (CRT) process helps connect them through cause-and-effect relationships, and soon, patterns emerge. It's usually very revealing to see how these patterns emerge. You see connections that you didn't understand previously -- or maybe you felt there was something about that relationship that was niggling at you, but you couldn't put it into words. The CRT process allows you to see all these relationships clearly, and visually, and usually reveals the one or two UDEs at the center of it all.

Then you can take that core UDE, and put it into an Evaporating Cloud diagram. This is where you start to discover your goals. When I say "discover", I mean, put into words the implicit goals that already exist, but the UDEs are blocking you from fully achieving them. If you didn't have these goals, the UDEs wouldn't be bothering you.

I've got to run, will try to write about this more a little later.
March 17, 2017 at 2:18 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
Mark's Future and Present Self method also helps discover goals. Different method, same purpose, to discover the true goals rather than accept your first attempt.

Agreed, the first few attempts at setting goals often come up with useless, or even misleading goals. It's refreshing to see it recognized. (And scary, since it's more evidence that I need to work on my own.)
March 17, 2017 at 2:35 | Registered CommenterCricket