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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

TOC's power of perspective

One of the most liberating and powerful aspects of TOC is that it provides one with a different, more effective perspective on organizations (particularly businesses). Most people who learn about the concepts and take them in deeply enough to re-think the way they view a business find that they can never go back to their old way of seeing things. It's like the old story of the emperor's new clothes. Once you have seen that the emperor is naked, you can no longer see anything else. People who absorb TOC even a little bit find that their perspective of virtually everything is colored by it. They see the constraints in any system--in the line at McDonald's, at the doctor's office, in their children's schools, and in their own companies.

They just see things very differently than many of those around, and I would say more clearly. It's not that they are smarter than the next guy or gal, or have more experience than someone else, they simply have a very powerful set of lenses (TOC) that shapens their vision beyond that of others. I think I am personally a good illustration of this. I had the good fortune to meet and work with Eli Goldratt at a young age, and my father is Bob Fox, before I worked in the world and aquired the conventional way of looking at things which I characterize as the lens of complexity. In other words I had very little experience in looking at systems by breaking the complexity down into lots of smaller pieces in order to make sense of it. I was given the gift of being able to see them whole through TOC and the 5 steps.

I could give lots of examples of how this perspective helped me to see and understand large highly complex businesses very quickly, and to see them more clearly than almost anyone within those companies, but I won't. (If you want to read one of them check out the post on this blog called "TOC Stories #2: Blue Light".) What is important is that TOC is a game-changer. It provides an enormously powerful lens for looking at systems, organizations of any type, that enables the user to identify extremely quickly what really matters within the entire thing and what to do to immediately to improve that system.

It is not just an improvement methodology or a powerful set of techniques. It is a new perspective, it is the ability to see aqnd understand the world better and more clearly. Armed with an understanding of the 5 steps or the TOC thinking tools, any individual becomes capable of seeing through enormous amounts of noise, detail and confusion filtering out the trivial many from the very few truly important things in any system. This is an enormously empowering ability to possess. I have felt it personally and have seen it repeated hundreds of times in the companies I have worked with.

Since most people suffer greatly due to an inability to understand and control the things that go on in their world, acquiring the perspective of TOC literally changes people's lives. With the ability to understand comes a significant peace of mind, even if other factors prevent one from immediately changing things. But TOC provides the perspective and the skills to change things as well, further increasing a person's enjoyment and satisfaction in life.

We've long characterized our consulting work as "unleashing the potential of the organization" because we have always viewed what we do as an effort to provide our clients with the new perspective of TOC and enough coaching to use it to change their own organization. Once they acquire the perspective they are able to see for themselves much more clearly what to do and how to do it. The only reason they need the additional coaching and guidance we provide is because they carry a lot of baggage from the way they have always done things. In other words they have inertia and initially will readily slip back into the old perspective, take off the TOC glasses and look at things without those lenses. So it helps to have us stick around until the TOC becomes fixed and established broadly and deeply enough in the organization.

For my money nothing else out their in the improvement universe holds a candle to TOC. TOC has given us the perspective and the skills to understand cause and effect in complex systems. A good analogy in my mind is that TOC is akin to the skills and abilities a doctor gets in his medical school and residency training, giving one the ability to select and utilize the specific tools around us, as a doctor uses scalpels, X-rays, and MRI's. 

The value of the perspective of TOC is hard for me to overstate. Over the last 25 years since I was first exposed to it, I have watched repeatedly as individuals and organizations have been transformed by it. The measurable gains that we all read about in terms of the performance of organizations are astounding, but what is less well publicized and less easily measured is the impact that it has had on people like me and our ability to understand, manage and improve our worlds. Everyone is aware of the power of a fresh perspective on things, TOC has created processes tools and techniques whereby anyone can acquire and consistently apply such a perspective. This is indeed a powerful thing.

1 comment:

Sean Oliver said...

So how have you helped implement these ideas?