The selfish teamwork created by buffers

I have done a number of Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) implementations in my Theory of Constraints practice, and I am always amazed at both the results and the business world in which these implementations happen.  What I mean is that the specifics of CCPM are the same, but each business has different underlying issues that come out in a variety of ways.  And it is often in the resolution of these underlying issues that the biggest benefits appear to be felt.

For example, IndustryWeek has a short piece on Tata Steel using CCPM in their scheduled maintenance, Bargain Machine Maintenance by Jonathan Katz. 

The goal is to complete the entire project on time -- not just individual tasks, Sarkaread says. It also encourages teamwork. "The vice president of Tata Steel made a comment once, and he said, 'What happens when you have a formal buffer and it is visible to everybody, everybody realizes that he has a share in that buffer," Sarkaread recalls. "If somebody is consuming the buffer because he is stuck, then everyone wants to help him -- not because they want to do social service, but because they want to protect the buffer for themselves.'"

I like the spirit in which this statement is made.  While people may be selfishly thinking that the buffer is "for me," they also see buffer consumption as a hazard that they have a responsibility for helping to recover.  This is a behavior that can only be created by making it visible and available to everyone.  And making it clear that while buffer consumption is neither good nor bad, the overall goal of the system is to complete projects on time.

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