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How to Identify and Solve Your Business Problems

Do you spend most of your time running around the office extinguishing fires? I’m talking about the kind of problems that you think you’ve solved one week, only to see them resurface a few days later. If you’re sitting there reading this thinking “Yes, that’s me”, it might be because you are addressing the symptoms, instead of the source of your problems.

So, how do you go from treating the symptoms to the cause? The answer lies within the power of visualization.

By visualizing your problem with a simple diagram, you quickly and easily gain a systemic understanding of your situation. It becomes much easier to see the relationships between your problems’ symptoms and their root causes. This strategy helps you focus on taking the best actions: the ones that will have the greatest positive effect on your business.

Sounds tough, right?

Well, before you run out and hire a consultant, I’ve outlined a simple and effective technique you can use. Either by yourself or with your team, it will help you achieve great results.

What I’m talking about is actually a simplified version of the Theory of Constraints’ developed by Eliyahu M. Goldratt. For those of you unfamiliar with Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints, it’s an adaptation of the idea that “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”. They key is not to use Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints in isolation but instead, combine it with the “thinking processes” outlined in Goldratt’s It’s Not Luck.

The main thinking processes you should use are as follows:

  • Current Reality Tree: Here you create a list of your irritants – called UnDesirable Effects (UDEs) –and then try to identify the root cause or causes of all your irritants. Once you’ve identified the UnDesirables, you can start coming up with potential solutions (injections).
  • Future Reality Tree: Visualize what your future will look like should you decide to enact some of those solutions. A Future Reality Tree is a great way to validate your proposed alternative.
  • Pre-Requisite Tree: A Pre-Requisite Tree (PRT) helps you uncover potential road blocks to the successful implementation of your solutions. It helps you think through the actions that you need to take to overcome those impediments.
  • Cloud: With a Cloud, you can solve an apparent conflict or dilemma between two actions.

When applying the thinking process method, there is a proper sequence to be wary of. A Current Reality Tree is always the best place to start. Once you’ve developed a CRT you follow up with a Future Reality Tree, and lastly a Pre-Requisite Tree. The Cloud, on the other hand, is used whenever you come across a conflict between actions.

When to use CRT, FRT, PRT and Cloud

By combining the CRT with the PRT and skipping the FRT altogether, you get a simplified and efficient way to identify and solve your problems. Once completed, you end up with a prioritized list of actions ready to be executed. It helps you alleviate any obstacles that would otherwise impede the implementation of the chosen solutions.

Want to learn more?

Curious about how to execute this strategy? Check out Fluent Brain, for a more in-depth guide to help you correctly execute this technique using Mindjet MindManager.

Go through each step in the guide as it is explained and you’ll be able to identify and solve your business problems. Feel free to ask your questions by emailing me at

Matt is Fluent Brain’s CEO and Chief Visual Facilitator. Visual Facilitation supercharges your thinking, brainstorming, and problem-solving. Visualization brings clarity and order to your thought processes, allowing you to explore and keep track of complex and non-linear ideas. The entire process is captured in a document deliverable that you can refer to in the future, and use to help others understand your ideas.

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