The internet abounds with techniques and tips, giving the illusion that in a short amount of time it’s possible to master the answers to our problems. That may be true for, say, getting the most from a laptop. However, if we rely on ‘management techniques’ and ‘management by tips’ for running a business or launching a startup, we’re in big trouble.
Isn’t the Theory of Constraints a collection of techniques?
Some people may be tempted to think this is so. The Theory of Constraints provides a range of solutions for various environments: production, marketing and sales, accounting, replenishment, retail, and project management, plus the Thinking Process tools for conflict resolution, innovation, strategy and implementation.
If we regard these various solutions as ‘techniques’, then we fail to recognize something fundamental: the Theory of Constraints is totally immersed in a mindset or a worldview that is systemic, one where what counts is achieving the overall goal of an organization and therefore working on global optima, not protecting local interests (or silos).
We were recently asked why for us ‘Critical Chain’ approach to Project Management is more than a technique. In reply to that here is a quote for our latest book, ‘Quality, Involvement, Flow: The Systemic Organization’ form CRC Press.
“Looking at Critical Chain as a technique for managing projects means essentially missing the point. The reason why tools like Microsoft Project still dominate the way projects are “managed” after almost two decades of relentless efforts to disseminate Critical Chain is that any attempt to use Critical Chain without embracing a purely systemic view of the organization is doomed to failure.
Critical Chain represents the embodiment of a vision of the organization based on pace of flow, people’s involvement, and great emphasis on quality. Quality, involvement, and ow are the basic philosophical pillars of the systemic organization, and Critical Chain can play a much greater role in the building of an intrinsically systemic organization. It can be seen, then, as a highly practical way to implement resource-driven, whole system optimization. This was precisely Dr. Deming’s lifelong crusade.”
Management techniques can’t be transformational
The problem with techniques is that they tend to remain superficial. And because they stay on the surface, we can’t internalize them. And because we can’t internalize them, techniques can’t transform us or the organizations where we work. Only knowledge can.
The knowledge exists. The Theory of Constraints and the work of W. Edwards Deming contain all the elements of knowledge required to transform management away from the underperformance of silos towards whole system management, allowing the true potential of organizations and those who work for them to be unleashed.
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About the Author
Angela Montgomery Ph.D. is Partner and Co-founder of Intelligent Management, founded by Dr. Domenico Lepore. She is co-author with Dr. Domenico Lepore and Dr. Giovanni Siepe of ‘Quality, Involvement, Flow: The Systemic Organization’ from CRC Press, New York. Angela’s new business novel+ website The Human Constraint looks at how the Deming approach and the Theory of Constraints can create the organization of the future, based on collaboration, network and social innovation.