A Current reality tree or CRT is a focusing procedure formulated by the late Eliyahu Goldratt, inventor of the theory of constraints. This process is intended to help leaders gain understanding of cause and effect in a situation they want to improve. It treats multiple problems in a system as symptoms arising from one or a few ultimate root causes or systemic core problems. It describes, in a visual (cause-and-effect network) diagram, the main perceived symptoms (along with secondary or hidden ones that lead up to the perceived symptoms) of a problem scenario and ultimately the apparent root causes or core conflict. The benefit of building a CRT is that it identifies the connections or dependencies between perceived symptoms (effects) and root causes (core problems or conflicts) explicitly. If core problems are identified, prioritized, and tackled well, multiple undesirable effects in the system will disappear. Leaders may then focus on solving the few core problems which would cause the biggest positive systemic changes.
A CRT is a statement of an underlying core problem and the symptoms that arise from it. It maps out a sequence of cause and effect from the core problem to the symptoms. Most of the symptoms will arise from the one core problem or a core conflict. Removing the core problem may well lead to removing each of the symptoms as well. Operationally working backwards from the apparent undesirable effects or symptoms to uncover or discover the underlying core cause.
A CRT begins with a list of problems, known as undesirable effects (UDEs.) These are assumed to be symptoms of a deeper common cause.