TOCICO 2018 opened with a fairly full house for the plenaries. Nice to see a good crowd. And of course, the conference has been a firehose of information and ideas and great conversations. Here are some additional highlights beyond the detailed writeups I posted.
Marcia Pasquarella told a horrific tale of a personal tragedy, and how she leaned back into her knowledge of the various TOC thinking tools to help her through some very difficult situations. This wasn't a dry academic application of the tools - it was more of her bringing examples of where "normal" attempts to fix things didn't work, and she found that the tools she learned in business helped her make decisions in the very difficult situation.
On the second day there was a pair of tracks running where some of the software vendors could demonstrate their wares -- one track on supply chain and another on project management. This was an unusual site at TOCICO. I joined the session from Realization and their Concerto software, where they talked about some of the newer features (that I was fairly familiar with). There are quite a few questions in connection with Sanjeev Gupta's presentation from the morning.
One of the perennial topics in TOCICO conferences and the TOC-related discussion lists is "how do we increase awareness of TOC?" This year's conference did not disappoint. A few people mentioned elements of this in their talks - either suggesting that it should be promoted more heavily or suggesting that it should be the results that draw interest (without using the words "TOC" or "Goldratt" at all).
The lunchtime talk was from Alan Barnard, based on conversations with Eli Schragenheim on "A TOC Analysis of How to Accelerate the Awareness, Adoption and Value Realization of Theory of Constraints." They define TOC as four elements: Theory, Principles, Applications, and Tools.
Why don't organizations adopt changes in general? There is the fear that if people support the change and it fails, they will be blamed. And it is easy to over-complicate things, meaning it is not easy to explain (or understand), meaning we could implement and fail, meaning I won't look like an expert.
He then went through a conversation on applying the Questions for Technology to TOC.
- The power of TOC is its ability to help management (and the rest of the organization) focus on the key element(s) that will improve the business.
- It removes the limitation imposed by the reality of the VUCA world we live in.
- The rules we used to live under attempted to protect us from VUCA by limiting our losses or making very small bets.
- The new rules are built into the TOC applications and the Pillars of TOC. I wonder - are there other rules that need to be created?
- What changes should be made to TOC to strengthen it? We must find ways to address the fears that people have. Apply the ideas of anti-fragility - discard what isn't helping. Use simulations (digital twins) to help people see where their intuitions are right - and wrong. Automate what can be automated. Change the metrics from performance metrics to compliance - we can't be sure the new rules work if we have no confidence that people are following them.
This is another foray into the conversation on how to make TOC better, more stable, more widely accepted. It will be interesting to see where that conversation goes next. Will Sanjeev Gupta's suggestions for projects be an example?