The TOCICO conference is not just a stand-and-deliver conference. There is the desire to present new thinking about TOC along with the more familiar TOC application stories.
This year, the first day was geared toward thinking about the future of the TOC body of knowledge with a focus on asking the attendees to participate in looking for places where there might be gaps in the current TOC applications: projects, production, distribution, and the Thinking Processes.
This part of the discussion was started by Alan Barnard and Lisa Scheinkopf talking about the TOC way of asking questions and challenging the body of knowledge: the Standing on the Shoulders of Giants process. Since I hadn't seen this material before (at least not presented in one place), it was a good overview. There was a lot of talk about the "legacy of Eli Goldratt" and his guidance to always look for better ways to do things. They also talked a lot about the scientific method and what it means to be good scientists - the short answer is to observe and question. Face inconsistencies. Challenge assumptions.
Two elements of this talk stood out in particular for me. One is the list of common mistakes people make as they attempt to incorporate scientific thinking into their lives. It's very easy to drop back into the habit of familiar thinking. The mistakes:
- Continuing to do (or encourage others to do) what you know is wrong. Multitasking is a perfect example. Or the classic, "focus on everything."
- Not doing what you know to be the right thing to do.
- and finallly, Not checking your assumptions.
The other element found helpful was the discussion of what does it mean to have a meaningful life, which I believe is based on the thinking that went into Goldratt's book, The Choice. It's not just to be happy. A meaningful life implies on has enough meaningful successes in life. And that in turn requires having the stamina to overcome failures, having (or creating) many opportunities, and being able to collaborate with people. How to do that? You need to overcome four obstacles:
- The perception that reality is complex. The TOC belief is that every system has inherent simplicity.
- Accepting conflicts as given. The TOC belief is that every system conflict can be removed.
- Blaming others. The TOC belief is that win:win is always possible and that People are inherently good.
- Thinking that you know it all (or don't know at all). The TOC belief is that every system can be substantially improved. The big problem for any body of knowledge is to allow inertia to take over, instead of continuing to look for improvements to the system.
These obstacles are an important part of applying TOC both personally and as an organization. And these obstacles are linked to the three mistakes mentioned above. The obstacles are mostly of the "errors of commission" variety, though the last is essentially the same as "not checking your assumptions."
I think both the mistakes and these obstacles have become part of the TOC lore, but they aren't as well communicated. (The kickoff speaker mentioned "the four obstacles", but I didn't know quite what they were until I saw them presented here.)
The second day is designed around presenting new applications of TOC, with the main focus being around presentations of the nine semi-finalists and finalists for the Goldratt Foundation Award of new applications of TOC. I am intrigued by a number of the presentations - of course, several will be running in parallel and I won't be able to see them all. The 3rd and 4th days of the conference are opportunities for current practitioners to describe what they have done in their implementations.