How do you define control? The answer might be more important than you think.

Trying to get everything under control can take forever … and we dont have forever before our clients start taking their business elsewhere, do we?

 I started off some time ago pointing out that ignoring the Theory of Constraints might be a dangerous choice, and then started looking at some of the reasons for these results. I started off with focus because this is so important.

The effort of getting every process and sub-process under control … is probably wasted

The second reason relates to the way ToC defines control, as opposed to the way most of us would like to define control. When I first started out as Operations Manager, we were implementing Six Sigma, and our goal was to first get our processes to perform consistently which meant it was under control, and then from there, we began to work on improving the process.

Although there is merit in getting your processes under control, the attempt to try and get to Six Sigma, or even to anything remotely close to that, takes a massive amount of effort often more effort than the bottom line results achieved from it.

It can be compared to trying to smoothen the way for the Dakar rally.

The alternative approach: Stabilize the whole system around the variance within the system

Instead of trying to get every step of your process under this level of control, ToC starts off by simply identifying what is the current normal variation in your processes, and then using buffers to protect your constraint and your final delivery requirement against this variation.

This approach allows you to almost immediately bring your ability to promise and deliver effectively against that promise, without having to bring very step of your process under control.

It’s like putting shock absorbers on your business

The idea of putting buffers in the right place to stabilize your overall process, instead of trying to stabilize every step in the process is like shock absorbers for your business. Despite the bumps in the road, you can still go fast, and still reach your destination on time, in one piece.

Free up management to steer, instead of managing every bump

It allows management to stop trying to manage every bump in the road, letting the buffers handle most of the bumps, and allowing management to only get involved when there are really big bumps or potholes. This frees them up to focus their time and energy on growing and developing your business driving you in the direction you really want to go.

Almost all ToC applications use buffers in some form to protect the constraint, and to protect the promise to your client.

This is another way in which ToC delivers the results that it does.

To your success

Ashton

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