The TOCICO conference has shifted from longer talks and workshops to 30-minute updates and case studies. This gives me the excuse to summarize in one post, rather than a post for each session. I'll do a separate one with notes on CCPM-related presentations.
And to demonstrate the nature of the day, Debra Smith (Constraints Management Group) gave a rapid-fire talk on "The Right Rules & Tools before Smart Metrics." She's been writing and focusing on a concept called Demand Driven MRP (DDMRP) lately, about which I know more today than I did yesterday. But a key insight here is that while flow of material and information is important - they have to be relevant. And relevant in this context is that it is material that is being sold (not going into a warehouse). And if you are using that information to make decisions, it has to be relevant to the decision - not just all the information you can collect. She talked a lot about the problems created by MRP and ERP systems and some of the underlying assumptions about linearity and determinism. Today's environments are more like Complex Adaptive Systems, and the rules and tools we use should operate with that in mind.
Humberto Baptista and Silverio de Souza presented a concern they have with pilot implementations in TOC - they don't always do what they are supposed to do. It's not a perfect analogy, but the pilot should represent an experiment - and that experiment should have a hypothesis, a control, defined expectations. It shouldn't be a iterative, larger and larger "pilot" implementation. They presented the stub of a Strategy and Tactics Tree related to implementing changes, in which a Pilot is only a portion. The full implementation needs to follow from the pilot. I'm curious if they will do more with this thinking.
As seems to be his style, Steve Holt, brought a smile to our faces with an interpretation of the implications of becoming an ever-flourishing company - TOC companies should hire more managers because management attention is the constraint. Of course, it is not their attention (and their attention is not equivalent to the number of managers), it is their FOCUS on the right things. And then thinking further, why does it have to be "managers?" Couldn't anyone with the right perspective be able to make decisions and take action? And - as is also his style - he pointed the audience to read the the Marine Corp Documented Procedure 6 on Command and Control. From the abstract:
A main point of this doctrinal publication is that command and control is not the exclusive province of senior commanders and staffs: effective command and control is the responsibility of all Marines. And so this publication is meant to guide Marines at all levels of command.
Somewhat outside my normal perspective, I attended a talk about a wide-ranging TOC implementation at Riachuelo, a fashion retailer in Brazil. They do everything from make the cloth to selling and even financing. And their TOC implementation has been a great journey. The comment about the journey I particularly liked was, "It's a journey to Everest, not a trip to Disney." And of course, they are still climbing.