This website covers 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.

Aligned to last

When I moved from Chicago to Boston, I discovered two copies of Collins & Porras' Built to Last amongst my collection of books.  Now I have (finally) read one of them.

I think many of the ideas within Built to Last have been reflected in other business writing, so I won't provide a long description of the contents, other than a brief description below.  What I want to highlight is the connection I saw to Theory of Constraints.  The final chapters were about core values and more importantly how the "Built to Last" companies aligned everything they did to those core values.  The authors said many times and many ways that it is important to have and hold core principles, and that it is no less important to align everything you do to that core.

This is very closely related to how one works in a ToC environment.  What is the goal of the system or business?  (And it isn't strictly to "Make money now and into the future.")  What is the constraint of the business?  Where do you want the constraint to be?  Is it in the right place to achieve the goal?  And once that is selected, how do you ensure that it provides what you need?  And the biggest challenge: How do you align the entire organization around this point?

Of course, now that I am back into full-bore Theory of Constraints consulting, i am seeing and hearing its application everywhere.  This isn't particularly new for me, it has just re-ignited my love of the topic.

In case you aren't familiar with the book, it was originally published in 1994 and based on their extensive research into long-lived and well-admired companies.  They did pairwise comparisons of companies in many industries and found that the companies that last and continue to grow are those that (paraphrasing the summary on p. 217 of my copy):

  • Have "clock builder" or "architect" leaders, not those who merely tell time or build the building.
  • Reject the "tyranny of or." 
  • Thrives on the duality of "Preserve the core" and "Stimulate progress."
  • Constantly seeks to align itself to its core.

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