This website covers topics on knowledge management, personal effectiveness, theory of constraints, amongst other topics. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the owner, Jack Vinson, and those of the commenters.

Supply Chain at Warp Speed

Just published and picked up from Amazon, Supply Chain Management at Warp Speed: Integrating the System from End to End by Eli Schragenheim, Bill Dettmer, and Wayne Patterson is another book in the growing supply of Theory of Constraints books, this time decidedly on the "how to" side of the fence, rather than the "business novel" side.  For people the know the oeurve, this book is an extension and update to Schragenheim & Dettmer's Manufacturing at Warp Speed (2000).  TOC experts will find this informative, but I am not sure those outside this circle will.

The book particularly expands on the knowledge and experience of Simplified Drum-Buffer-Rope (SDBR) developed in the intervening years, both in how to implement in general and special cases that can make the implementation more difficult.  In fact, half of the book is dedicated to SDBR with only three chapters on topics related to the supply chain (downstream, upstream, and integrated).  The authors clearly state in the introduction that it makes no sense to focus on a healthy supply chain if the manufacturing links do not have the necessary flexibility to make it happen.

Recently, in my own work, I have been aware of more and more of the importance behind differentiating between planning and execution, whether that is projects or manufacturing or the supply chain.  The authors make a key comment in the first chapter:

If it cannot be executed, the plan was too complicated.

This also has ramifications on policies that are in place during execution (and link to how planning works).  These policies have to allow for the right amount of rigidity / flexibility while still meeting commitments to the market.  This idea of simplicity informs the entire book.  The SDBR section reiterates that idea again and again: what is the most complete and still simple way to overcome a particular obstacle.

Each section covers the general problem or question to be addressed, followed by common (non-TOC) solutions to the problem and the benefits and drawbacks to those solutions.  Then the authors bring out the TOC-related solution, often making reference to the the standard solutions and how the TOC solution either improves or changes those existing solutions.  The authors use Conflict Clouds to describe the common problems (or conflicts) that businesses find themselves facing, and they use a few other familiar logic diagrams.  I would like to see them explain these diagrams, rather than assuming all readers are familiar with the TOC Thinking Processes and diagrams that go along with them.

While there are many good highlights throughout the book, the structure of the book and the assumption that all readers are TOC experts was rather off-putting to me.  I consider myself fairly well-versed in the TOC applications (I have a "supply chain logistics" certification), so there were some elements that were quite familiar, but there were other elements that had me scratching my head and wondering why there wasn't more information provided in the book - or at least pointers to go read somewhere else.  Sometimes those questions were answered in subsequent chapters with little clues in the text that more would be forthcoming.  Just as often, there were a number of places where the authors suggest "avoid this trap" without providing more guidance on how to avoid the trap in question.  In a more prosaic complaint: the graphics that go along with the text weren't always explained clearly, so I either had to study them or just give up and hope I'd understand from the text. 

As with any good book today, the authors have a website with more information and links.  It's rather sparse at this point.

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