theory+of+constraints category archives
"Pride and Joy" by Alex Knight is a Theory of Constraints business novel about a hospital in chaos and a way of thinking that can help move beyond the chaos to a truly patient-centric, high quality environment.
Rather than describe the solution - a description that is always going to be lacking - understand what problem the customer is trying to solve. What limitation or barrier do they need to overcome? And why do they want to do that?
One of the many people I follow on Twitter, Richard Cushing, has been interviewed and the results posted as "Where Does Your ERP Selection Fit with Your Continuous Improvement Efforts?"
Yishai Ashlag's new book, TOC Thinking: Removing Constraints for Business Growth, is a good overview of the Theory of Constraints approach to thinking about running organizations.
A theme has emerged for me at TOCICO 2014 across many of the talks and discussion this year. We generate big changes in implementing Theory of Constraints in organizations. And those big changes by their very nature create conflicts. How should we respond to these conflicts?
As usual, I'm exhausted after four days of listening and thinking and talking about the Theory of Constraints. Today was loaded with shorter sessions and more interesting conversations.
I attended a number of talks on CCPM today at TOCICO, as that is work I am doing these days. And these weren't even all the material that was available on CCPM. There were also some great hallway conversations.
The TOCICO conference has shifted from longer talks and workshops to 30-minute updates and case studies. This gives me the excuse to summarize in one post, rather than a post for each session.
Rob Newbold of ProChain held a session, diving into one of the big themes of his book, The Project Manifesto. It was good listening to him talk about it, as I picked up some things I hadn't appreciated from reading the book alone.
The second day of the TOCICO conference opened with a great keynote from Kristen Cox on "Better, Faster, Cheaper State Government." What a great way to open the day - TOC and systematic thinking really can come to an environment like state government. And there are lessons for other implementations.
Jelena Fedurko presented an interesting way to help resolve organizational conflicts - conflicts between the desired actions of two parts of the organization, where each believes the other's actions will severely damage a common goal.
Avraham Mordoch presented the next iteration on his CCPM Maturity Model that I reported on from last year's conference.
Eli Schragenheim's workshop covered the history of TOC with a focus on the many paradigm shifts that Goldratt went through in development of TOC and related thinking.
The "four concepts of flow" come from a 2008 article that Eli Goldratt wrote that describe the innovations from Henry Ford and Taiichi Ohno that have inspired him to create Theory of Constraints.
How does Theory of Constraints apply to the healthcare situation? Very well. Alex Knight presented his long running work in healthcare as the opening keynote at the TOCICO 2014 conference.
Rob Newbold's latest book takes the reader further down into how to run projects (with CCPM). This book will be something to talk about with my colleagues and friends who are running these kinds of projects.
Blue Ocean Strategy is a ten-year-old book that is still relevant today. How do you craft a business strategy that moves you to a new mode of operation - away from the competition and setting your own destiny? I also see a lot of Viable Vision in this book.
A great discussion of systems thinking by Fred Kofman, which ties into much of what the folks in the Theory of Constraints camp talk about. In the first minute, he says several times some version of, "To optimize the overall system, you must sub-optimize the subsystems."
When planning a project, are you more interested in the dates every activity happens, or are you more interested in how all the activities are connected together?
The book in two sentences: "There are two alternatives: one is to bitch about reality and the other is to harvest the gifts it just gave us. This is what I call the freedom of choice."
Are successes because of the design or despite the design? What about failures?
Some good videos that I've come across recently on Theory of Constraint: Critical Chain and the Thinking Processes.
I re-read Goldratt's book on the TOC approach to project management, Critical Chain. Some interesting food for thought here, even for a guy who does quite a bit of CCPM work.
Deming repeats the main mantra over and over: Management owns the system. It is the system that generates the results. If those results are unacceptable, it is management’s responsibility to investigate and improve the system. Repeatedly. Continuous improvement.
Are you suffering the effects of fluctuation? Or are you Focusing on constraints?
The Goal has helped companies of all shapes and sizes. There is a podcast with Erik Prince of Blackwater (the defense contractor) who sites The Goal as helping him grow the business.
I picked up Steve Tendon and Wolfram Muller's Tame the Flow: Hyper-Productive Knowledge-Work Management shortly after the TOCICO conference in June, and every time I pick it up I glean a different take on the embedded ideas. I enjoyed the thinking here, particularly since I am seeing more and more project management that is all about managing the flow of knowledge work.
After the TOC ICO conference, I picked up Yuji Kishira's Wa - Transformation Management by Harmony, based on a conversation with him and other attendees. It is a fun take on Theory of Constraints, change management and other topics.
Why do businesses exist? What is their purpose? Can we identify just one thing? Steve Denning talks about Milton Friedman's statement that the sole purpose of corporations is to make money for its shareholders. The short form is that Friedman based his article on flawed logic.
Drew Greenblatt, the president of Marlin Steel has a nice appreciation of Eli Goldratt on the Inc. website, The Man Who Saved My Company | Inc.com. (Yes, Eli Goldratt died two years ago.) He opens with the familiar struggle and goes on to talk about how he was able to pull his company out of the struggles with help from The Goal, and Theory of Constraints.
Is Agile at all compatible with project management? Should we even try to make them talk to each other? Wolfram Müller talked through his views on Agile, and on how some of the TOC applications could be thought of as working together with the Agile mechanisms.
Steve Holt had some fun with his talk at TOCICO this year that he created out of conversations with April K Mills of Engine for Change. This time he suggests create policy buffers to protect change efforts.
Prof. James Holt usually gave a talk about Managing Complex Organizations this morning at the TOC ICO conference. The basic idea is to use Throughput Dollar Days and Inventory Dollar Days internally.
What am I good at? What do I love to do? What drives me? What fits my personality? These questions are the core of today' full-day session on TOC for Personal Growth, by Efrat Goldratt.
How can we take advantage of what Theory of Constraints teaches as well as bring in thinking from other disciplines to learn? Specifically, how do we learn from a single occurrence - an occurrence of something going awry? This was the question that Eli Schragenheim tried to answer in his talk this morning on "Learning from ONE event: A structured organizational learning process to inquire and learn the right lessons from a single event."
Rami Goldratt of Goldratt Consulting talked about the latest knowledge that is coming out of TOC implementations in retailers. It's about what NOT to replenish.
Avraham Mordoch presented his thoughts on an organizational maturity model for project management environments, and specifically related to Critical Chain Project Management. It was very interesting to listen to in relation to my recent experiences with project management work.
How about this for advocating Theory of Constraints? The opening keynote from Mazda at the TOC ICO conference ended with the statement, "Made with TOC." They even had a couple cars in the parking lot to show off.
My review of "The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win" by Gene Kim and gang. I enjoyed it, and ended up staying up late to finish it. The structure of the book is quite familiar: business novel; looming disaster; averted with the determination of the protagonist (and colleagues) and the help of a wacky "guru." There are some new-to-me concepts that fit neatly with my current worldview.
I re-read Eli Goldratt's The Goal. I enjoyed reading it again for the nuggets embedded throughout and the reminder that this is a solid way to help people and organizations think differently about their situation.
Believing in the inherent value and quality of people comes out in how you challenge them and what you expect of them. It has much less to do with your direct personal style.
Ihab Sarieddine has a nice overview of CCPM in his blog on project management, "Improving Scheduling Using Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM)."
I read Bob Sproull's _Epiphanized_ in just a few days and found it told a gripping story of TOC transformation, even if the writing style was sometimes off-putting.
Working with clients on project management, as I do, I see a familiar theme come up over and over again. People have a difficult time separating the creation of an idea from starting to work on that idea.
Creativity and productivity are both enhanced by acknowledging and working with full understanding of the operating constraints. An HBR article from Matthew E May reminds me of the idea once again, "How Intelligent Constraints Drive Creativity."
Project management and knowledge management are about getting things done. I attended and spoke at the Center for Business Information (CBI) 6th Annual Forum on Knowledge Management this week in Philadelphia. Rather than talk about knowledge management directly, I opted to speak about managing projects - whether they are KM or other types.
Thanks to Mark Graban's recent Leanblog podcast with Steve Bell, I found a long list of "information wastes" that serve as an appendix to Bell and Orzen's _Lean IT: Enabling and Sustaining Your Lean Transformation_ (2010).
Thomas Corbett's _Throughput Accounting_ is a quick read and very familiar for someone who has been in the Theory of Constraints world. I wonder if anyone comes to TOC via this route, rather than through The Goal and some of the other business novels.
I came across a pair of articles that compare Lean, Theory of Constraints and several other process improvement approaches. Both decide that Lean is the best, but the authors appear to emphasize Lean in their work as well. TOC doesn't get a very good hearing.
Some interesting quotes today: Metadata is the stuff you know. Data is the stuff you are looking for. -Weinberger Information is the answer to the question asked. -Goldratt
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