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Theory of Constraints: Theory and Application
Today's managers are pressed more than ever to provide fast, efficient fixes to problems. They try to apply their powerful management tools appropriately. But, applying sophisticated tools takes time and focus. Too often, other more pressing problems occur before the first problem is solved. And many times, even if the first problem is solved, it seems to just reoccur a few years later. Fire fighting becomes a management style that wears out managers, stifles progress and destroys creativity. Clearly a different, more effective approach is necessary.

Every system is constrained in some way. Otherwise, total chaos would occur. The constraint or limiting factor determines the rate of growth, the expansion of the system or the accomplishment of the objective. When we know the constraint, we can make valuable decisions around the binding point to optimize the situation. However, much of the time, constraints can't be found using traditional tools. The constraint may be physical but difficult to quantify. Or, the constraint could be non-physical, such as a policy constraint. Making decisions without knowing the constraint of the system is "fire fighting with unknown consequences". Managers must have a systems understanding and a focused approach at solving THE problems that NEED to be solved (not just those "they know how to solve"). Managers need an approach that exploits their intuition and the skills developed over time and an approach that will make a real difference in the bottom line.


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