I had several comments and email discussions after my review of Ricketts' book, Reaching the Goal. The most interesting - and difficult for me to wrap my head around - is the application of TOC principles to the people management question. Essentially, Ricketts guides people to use a supply chain metaphor to manage.
This idea turned up again in the most recent HBR IdeaCast with Peter Cappelli, author of the March 2008 HBR article, "Talent Management for the Twenty-First Century." He has a related article in the April 2008 issue, focusing on uncertainty.
A number of the ideas discussed in the article should be very familiar to anyone who is familiar with the issues of supply chain management. Interestingly, he claims that it is generally advisable to run lean, meaning that there will almost always be a talent shortfall that will be filled by outsourcing or contracting to other groups. The claim was that keeping too many people around is expensive (salaries) and creates frustration on "the bench." But are "the bench" people really just sitting there? Don't they take the opportunity during down time to grow and do internal development activities? I got the impression from reading Ricketts that it is better to keep a bench, and to keep that bench sized according to all the market factors of resupply, variability, upcoming work, etc.
In reality, it's a balancing act. Carry too many people on the bench, and the company is sluggish. The same as if you carry too much inventory. Carry too little, and the company can't respond to consumer demand. The thing I liked about the Ricketts approach to talent management is that it explicitly recognizes that there are different resupply times for different resource types (whether that is physical resources or people). And then Ricketts applies the TOC methodologies to those resources.