Along with the detailed posts I've written in the past few days, there are plenty of interesting ideas and hallway conversations. Here are some of those.
As usual at the TOCICO conference, there were plenty of case studies - the ones I attended were a great set of stories, very much focused on the successes and the ways people got there. (Not so much about the details under the implementations.)
- The chairman of the board of Mazda presented some awesome work they have done over the years incorporating their Zoom-Zoom mindset into all they do. And the director of their project office talked about the importance of using CCPM to manage the projects related to their SkyActiv engine technology and other recent developments. I felt incredibly inspired as a result of their keynote.
- Fleetguard Filters of India received a lifetime achievement award and gave a keynote where they described awesome results of continually applying the ideas of TOC throughout their business - and that they expect to continue creating. As an example, they talked about automating decisions as much as possible to align to the overall goal.
- Mark Williams of Alaska Airlines talked about some great work they've done in their maintenance parts supply chain, improving aircraft uptime AND reducing the cost and hassle of managing the parts supply.
- Kobus van der Zel of Global Turnarounds and Seamus Daley of Swisher talked about how they used TOC to help uncover cash in Swisher's supply chain and saved it from almost near collapse - the stock price had dropped from an impressive IPO down to $0.50.
- A company in China has a wall of photos of important heroes for their company: Wang Yangming, Albert Einstein, and Eli Goldratt.
Many of the discussions about bringing Theory of Constraints to individuals, groups and organizations talked about the idea of taking advantage of people's intuition. People have deep knowledge and concerns about the things they care about. We should take advantage of this intuition when bringing any new ideas or changes to them. As was said a number of times: Emotion drives Intuition drives Logic, which in turn reinforces Emotion.
Local optimization vs Global optimization
One of the favorite concerns in TOC is that of local optimization - optimizing locally won't lead to global optimization. In particular, optimizing everywhere doesn't lead to the overall optima. Typically, we look for specific incentives or measures: utilization rates, employee busy-ness, targets, etc. But there is another type: lack of knowledge of the larger system drives people to focus only on their area. They optimize locally for lack of anything else to do. With the same adverse results - possibly damaging the overall system.
This points to a larger topic that is tickling me. It came up in a variety of the sessions. The more people are pigeonholed into their roles or their business silos, the more likely we get local optimization. In these cases, people are actively discouraged from looking beyond the boundaries of their world. But as I just articulated above, we lose all sorts of opportunities when we do this. Opportunities to learn, opportunities to make the system really sing. A big aspect of the most successful applications has to do with aligning everyone to the goal - the goal of the company, the goal of a project, etc. And we see this when the local measures are aligned with the overall system. How much inventory to keep? It depends on what the customer is consuming, not on arbitrary local shelf targets. When do I need to do Task XYZ? When is it needed in the context of the project? What must be done before I can even start? And, at the level above, why is the project even running?
I attended parts of a fascinating presentation from Mike Round and Alan Barnard on applying some of the TOC thinking to the challenging healthcare problem of obesity, diabetes, and heart health. The fascinating thing in their analysis was that it showed how individuals and physicians are stuck in conflicts around the expertise, research, and experience. Resolving the conflict required the courage of a physician to admit they were wrong and then explore how to think differently about the situation. They are also in the process of developing an expert system, connected to what they've learned. I was also fascinated by Mike Round's Little Logic Books - summaries of classic books intended to lead you to the original.
Lifetime Achievement awards
TOCICO presented a number of awards to individuals in the community who have contributed to the growth and development of Theory of Constraints: Bob Fox, Debra Smith, Boaz Ronen, Sanjeev Gupta, Kathy Suerkin, Bill Dettmer, and Jim Cox. All wonderful people and contributions, and there were heartfelt comments from the presenters and the recipients.