To manage a system effectively, you might focus on the interactions of the parts rather than their behavior taken separately.

— Dr. Russel Ackoff

Companies and other organizations are systems. All
systems have some properties in common. As you will soon see, these properties
can be counter-intuitive. If we rely only on intuition, we will make the wrong
decision, even when we have all the information we need to make better ones.

**The Monty Hall problem**

We are used to solve problems through *analysis. To analyze* means to split a problem
into parts, and trying to understand the whole by understanding each part
separately. The idea is that understanding the parts enables us to understand
the whole. This way of viewing the world is called *reductionism*, and it has been the dominating way of viewing the
world in Western culture for hundreds of years.

Analysis is indeed a powerful tool, but it has limits.
When we try to understand a system by examining its parts, we loose the full
picture. This can lead us to making bad decisions. Here is a classic example,
the Monty Hall problem:^{1}

You are a contestant in a
game show. The game show host, Monty, puts three cards on a table. All cards
are face down. Monty tells you that one of the cards is a winning card, the
other two are blanks.

Monty asks you to pick a
card, but keep it face down on the table. Then, Monty flips one of the two
remaining cards over. It’s a blank.

Now you get to choose: You
can either stick with the card you have, or you throw it away and pick the
remaining card on the table.

Think it over before you turn the page and read the
answer. What would you do, and why? Does it matter what you choose?

*Figure: A Future Reality Tree with the solution to the Monty Hall problem.*

The diagram above has the solution. Read the diagram
in the direction of the arrows, from the bottom, and up, to the top.

The diagram is called a *Future Reality Tree* (FRT) and it is one of the tools you will learn
from this book. It is fairly easy to read the diagram even if you have never
seen a Future Reality Tree before.

Boxes with rounded corners contain text describing
reality as it is right now. Boxes with straight corners describe things we do
to change reality. The ellipses mean **and**.
No ellipsis means the content of any one box can cause the effect on its own.
Note that in a complete tree, all the boxes must describe things that actually
do exist. Speculation and guesswork should not be present in the diagram
itself.

The four boxes at the bottom of the diagram are read
like this:

**If** there are three cards on the table face down **and** only one of the cards is a winning
card, **and** I pick a card, but I do
not look at the face side, **then**
there is a 1/3 chance I have picked a winning card.

Analysis can easily lead you astray when you are
dealing with anything even slightly complicated. If you break the problem down
in separate parts, you end up in a situation where you have two cards to pick
from, the one in your hand and the only remaining card on the table. It is easy
to conclude that there is a 50-50 chance of winning, regardless of whether you
switch cards or not. Because of this, most people choose to keep the card they
picked at the start.

If you follow the diagram all the way to the top, you
will see that after Monty has flipped a blank card, *there is a 2/3 chance that the remaining card on the table is the
winning card!*

Really! Please do not take my word for it, after all,
I could be wrong, or even trying to trick you. Walk through the diagram
yourself. Even better, go get a deck of cards, and try it out a couple of
times.

The Future Reality Tree helps us combine two different
ways of thinking, *analysis*, and *synthesis*:

●
*Analysis* is
breaking down the problem into parts. That is what I did when I split the
problem up in little boxes.

●
*Synthesis*
means putting different ideas together to form a whole. I did that when I
organized the boxes, and drew arrows and ellipses.

You can think of it as laying a puzzle. Analysis is
when you look at the shape and color of each piece. Synthesis is when you put
the pieces together, so we can see the entire picture.

In this book, I use one of the best methods I know to
understand complicated problems, *The
Logical Thinking Process* (TLTP). I explain how you can use The Logical
Thinking Process to solve problems and develop both strategies and tactics in
Part C: Navigation.

It is fairly easy to read TLTP diagrams even if you do
not yet know how to create them, so I’ll use them whenever I want to be extra careful to show cause and effect, and to build
logical arguments.

Like all other tools, TLTP diagrams are based on
certain assumptions of how things work, and that means they have certain limitations.
We will have a look at those limitations later on, when we get to complexity
theory and Cynefin. The reason I mention the limitations now, is I do not want
you to believe that just because I show you a really great hammer, all problems
are nails. We will deal with both nail-shaped, and not-nail-shaped problems and
solutions in this book.

**Takeaways**

●
*Analysis* is
when you break a problem into smaller pieces to try to understand each piece.

●
*Synthesis* is
when you organize and connect pieces of a problem, so you get an understanding
of the whole.

●
We need *analysis* and *synthesis* together to understand and solve complicated problems.

●
Visual methods,
like *The Logical Thinking Process* can
be a great help when analyzing and synthesizing problems and solutions.

●
Just because you
have a hammer, not every problem will be a nail. The tools in this book has
limitations, and to use them well, you must understand not just how and when
they work, but also when they do not work.

^{1} The Monty Hall
problem got its name from Maurice “Monty Hall” Halperin, who led the game show *Let’s Make a Deal* in the sixties and
seventies.