In my last blog post, you read about the Thinking Processes of the Theory of Constraints. In this second installment of the Theory of Constraints, we will discuss its Five Focusing Steps.

With TOC, we are reminded that a system is only as good as its weakest link. The steps to maximize the performance of a system, you need to:

1. Identify the constraint.
2. Decide how to exploit the constraint.
3. Subordinate and synchronize everything else to the above decisions.

To improve the performance of that same value-chain, continue:

4. Elevate the performance of the constraint.
5. If in any of the above steps the constraint has shifted, go back to Step 1

These are the known as the Five Focusing Steps of Theory of Constraints. These steps can be applied at any level of an organization/system. However, applying these concepts inside individual silos of an organization will give you only marginal benefit. If you want to gain the greatest rewards, you have to consider the whole system and not just the pieces. That is:

  • Understanding the interdependencies between and across processes that contribute to delivering a product or service,
  • Understanding the impact that those interdependencies and normal variability have on their combined, overall performance, and
  • Appropriately buffering for interdependencies and normal variability so that that performance can be predictably and consistently high.

When you think in these terms you begin to improve the performance of systems and not just individual processes!

Source: The Theory of Constraints and its Thinking Processes