The theory of constraints is an excellent concept of identifying and addressing a bottleneck or a blockage in a process that slows down the entire process, leading to lower production and lost opportunities due to reduced output. First proposed in a novel by Dr Eliyahu, the concept quickly caught on and was adopted by several companies over the years. Today there are theories of constraints consulting professionals who help companies identify and overcome their constraints.
The fundamental essence of the theory of constraints is that a process may have one or more constraints, and the throughput of the process can only be improved after the constraint has been improved. The theory of Constraints also specifies that the strategy of optimizing areas that are not constraints will not make much difference. Theory of constraints management is approached with a three-pronged strategy which involves the 5 step thinking process for identifying and eliminating constraints. The next stage is the thinking process, where tools for identifying, analyzing and resolving problem areas are dealt with.The third stage is the important job of throughput accounting and is very effectively used to measure performance and evaluate how effective the thinking process has been.
Professional TOC consultants can help identify constraints, improve them, and train company employees in TOC. There are also training manuals by which professionals can learn the theory of constraints in a few minutes.
Here are some tips to help learn the theory of constraints
The five focusing steps are in the form of a closed-loop. The steps involved are
- first identifying the constraint. Line operators and supervisors are mostly aware of the constraints and can help identify them. The next step is to exploit the identified constraint. This is done by trying out different ways to understand the constraint's dynamics and maximize throughput under existing conditions. The third step is to align with the constraint and see if there this can bring about any improvement in the constraint. After this, steps are taken to elevate the performance of the constraint. Once this is done, the process is repeated until there are perfections until all constraints are improved upon. However, throughput consulting will confirm how effective savings by eliminating constraints have been. Persons being taught the theory of constraints will need practice in this cycle until some degree of perfection is achieved.
- The nest stage is the thinking process. This involves three stages. The first stage is to brainstorm and find out what needs to be changed collectively. After deciding on what needs to be changed, the next stage in the thinking process is to decide on what the identified processes or things need to be changed. The third stage is to determine and find out what actions need to be taken to bring about the desired change. There are several tools in the theory of consulting that help in the thinking process, and the team involved in the entire thinking process need to be exposed to and trained to use these tools. The tools are the current reality tree for determining the root cause of the current scenario and the evaporating cloud tree, which is good for eliminating conflicts during the team brainstorming process. The other tools are the future reality tree and the strategy and Tactics tree. These tools are useful and help give a structured approach to the thinking process for best results.
- The final process is throughput accounting, and accounting professionals with consultants or companies will need to be taught the basics and the difference from traditional accounting. For instance, non-moving inventory is considered an asset in traditional Accounting, whereas it is considered a loss in throughput accounting.
The theory of constraints can be learnt fast, but a few practice sessions in the different stages will help master this skill.