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Rethinking Supply Chains

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Mankind's problem is trying to nicely arrange individual pebbles, not perceiving them as parts of a boulder.             By: Henry Fitzhugh Camp, August 29, 2011

I think of LEAN, TPS, TQM and TOC as branches off the same tree.  Understanding their knowledge provides us perspectives from which we attempt to comprehend and deal with reality. If it works … good.   However, if you accept Eli Goldratt’s contention that, in every organization, the meta-constraint must be management's attention, then it is logical to rely on TOC for global strategy, because it focuses on the very few things (read the thing) that are critical to improve the entire organization, not just some particular portion.  In other words, TOC produces the biggest improvements in return for the smallest investment in management’s scarce time.

Eli.jpg                                 Taiichi Ohno.jpg

LEAN, as I usually see it implemented, looks like many levers applied through different fulcrums to lift different parts of the same thing.  I don’t doubt that Taichi Ohno had the big picture in mind when he sought flow in creating Toyota’s Production System, the progenitor of LEAN.  On the other hand, I do not see indications supporting a conclusion that approaches, other than TOC, are based so completely on the faith that organizations, being interrelated cohesive wholes, must, therefore, be inherently simple to improve.  Once we recognize that there is only one thing we are looking to lift, not only is a single fulcrum called for, using more than one fulcrum diminishes results.  As Archimedes said 250 years before Christ, “Give me a firm place to stand and a long enough lever and I can move the earth.”


The oneness can't be seen with the eyes; we see separate things - clutter.  You must intellectualize it with all the cause and effect connections you know in your mind.  And, thinking is not popular, these days.  (Ever?)  I've read that the eyes are actually part of the brain.  Because the optic nerve is such a heavy neural cable it is the main way people perceive.  So, if we want the world to benefit from TOC faster and more easily, we must 1) make it more visual and 2) demonstrate that the people who properly utilize TOC are becoming the richest in terms of the goal units they seek.

In your blog, you have the perfect picture of bad multi tasking-31 people by my count, all doing something; all working; all trying to improve locally; all overloaded; all multi-tasking; all delaying the flow! How many offices are there like this? How many stories in the the office buildings that look like this? In how many cities?
How many projects are in that picture? If every one has ten, then there are at least 300. So, the delay in processing is at least ten times longer than it could be. How much could the performances of such offices be improved?
Well done
Thought-provoking post - I Appreciate the info . Does anyone know if my assistant can get a blank FINRA Form U4 document to complete ?
martha pavia -
Off the top of my head, a good visual analysis tool should attractively amd clearly represent flows (goods, services, money, information, constraints) and variability management points.
HA, you are exactly correct sir- the problem (from a sharing perspective) is that TOC folks are simply too damn smart and logical!

To make it visual and demonstrate to the point we share with others, emotion comes into play and my experience has been as soon as it does, the logical folks in charge trump its use!

(it is I believe how Eli leveraged stories to get us to see)
Thanks. Good stuff, as always. In some ways, we are going through a similar process here as we ramp up our business development efforts. We are trying to identify and focus on the few factors, or only factor, that might impede our progress.
Well done Henry! Easy to read, easy to understand. The simple way. Thank you.
Jaime Marun -
Could not agree more.

As my father said, our fear of complexity (lack of control) causes us to dissect the system as much as we can, trying to manage each part on its own merit…

Another interesting consequence, is that the resulting bad multitasking actually creates a negative loop. We are more and more losing control and seeing the system as more complex, driving us even further towards local optima…
Never is this more obvious than during attempts of OD. The lead never seems lead thinking of the whole rather than 'how does this affect me'? Good words Henry.
Great! Please hurry and give us the 1) visual analysis tool. I'm not in such a hurry for 2)demonstration of superiority, because that's a window of opportunity for me to each my competitors' collective lunches.
James Carroll -

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