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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Why Theory of Constraints?

I first got exposed to Goldratt and Theory of Constraints (TOC) soon after my father, Bob Fox, signed on as his partner in 1981. I began to work with him personally in 1985 and was amazed by what he taught me. I think most people agree that there is not enough common sense at work in the world, or certainly that we could use more of it. I have come to understand that calling an idea "common sense" is one of the highest forms of praise for something. It means that it is so valid, so right that it is obvious.

At the same time common sense is not common at all, and TOC falls very much into this category. The principles are so self-evident when one is exposed to them, yet at the same time they are far from common practice in most organizations. This paradox and the desire to bridge this gap have been the focus of my professional and much of my private life since I first came to grasp TOC more than 20 years ago.

I have learned that the real work in this change is not to grasp the concepts intellectually. As common sense this is not hard for peole. The real work is to overcome the inertia of our past practices and beliefs. TOC challenges and invalidates many assumptions widely held for many years in industry and in managing organizations, and in so doing replaces these assumptions, with different ones that better match with the reality of complex systems and organizations. These fundamental changes require people to re-think a host of decisions, processes, procedures, measurements and beliefs that they have about how best to manage a system. But such a fundamental "re-thinking" is not something that most people do as a matter of course when they are exposed to a new idea. And knowing the power of the grip of inertia on human beings this is neither an easy nor trivial task.

Over the years the things that I think have helped me and the many people and organizations I have worked with the most are the stories and discussions around specific applications of the fundamental TOC principles. Such stories demonstrate the logical extension of the TOC concepts and help to breakdown the inertia we all have with regard to re-thinking how we work. Some of the stories are mine, many are from others and from the companies I have worked with over the past 15+ years. I hope in them you will find both the insight and the inspiration to turn common sense into common practice in your world.

I hope that you will participate in sharing your stories, experiences and learnings, so that this will be a forum where the exchange of ideas and information will thrive. I also welcome your feedback about what is written here and what you would like to see more of here. My primary intent is to make this site as useful to the readers as possible. Thanks for visiting.

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