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Tag: theory of constraints

Theory 101: Five Focusing Steps of TOC

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.

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Theory 101: Thinking Processes of TOC

The book “The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement” by Eliyahu M. Goldratt took me by surprise. I had forgotten by the time I got around to listening to the audiobook that it was a novel. I just knew I needed to read Goldratt and was starting with his first book. Despite its initial 90’s HR film feel, it was compelling and walked me through the trials and tribulations, both professional and personal, of an plant manager whose plant was near ruin. I listened as he applied Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints and turned his plant around. Beyond that, it teaches you to drill down to the actual goal. We often forget what our original goal is by the time we get mired down in the minutia. We forget that the metrics aren’t the point. What, your burndown sucks right now? Well, have you strayed from your goal? Are you delivering the most value possible to your company? That’s the goal. The metric may not always give you the true health of your march towards the goal. So enlightening. It is definitely a must read (or listen!)

Why use the Theory of Constraints?

I am going to summarize Goldratt’s Brief Introduction to TOC. Who better than to learn from than the master himself? Goldratt states that in general, the constraint of an organization is that it is “structured, measured, and managed¬†in parts, rather than as a whole.” Because of that constraint, he states, ¬†organizations perform far below their potential. If you remove the conditions enforcing the constraint then you experience significant and sustainable improvement in all of the problem areas for the organization. The reason most organizations don’t recognize and/or address the real constraint is that they are too busy with the demands of the present to begin fixing the future or that they are afraid of the risk of the change.

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