Monday, June 13, 2011

Eulogy for Eli Goldratt, Creator of Theory of Constraints

Nearly 30 years ago, I was reading an article in a quality control magazine. It was a story of a manufacturing plant that was about to be closed. At the end of the chapter, there were some questions. The story was so intriguing I could hardly wait for next month's issue to find out what new idea this plant's staff was putting into place to change its fate. Alex Rogo became a fictional hero of mine as a young professional. Later I got a copy of the book, "The Goal", that had been serialized in the magazine. As I read about how Herbie, the overweight scout, was holding back the troop from success, and how Alex learned to apply this paradigm to his operations, I began talking to others in my department and plants about this. We had to find our Herbie, the critically constrained resource that was holding our whole operation back. We had to subordinate everything to it until we could increase its capacity; otherwise, we would just be creating problems.

The first plant in which I applied these principles we dramatically increased output (throughput). In a second company, we saw a 60% increase in output without any addition of resources.

Over the last 3 decades, I have read nearly everything Eli Goldratt has put out. I've attended conferences and workshops dealing with Theory of Constraints. I watched the satellite series quite a few years ago. I got a copy for the staff. I shared copies of "Critical Chain" with everyone I knew in charge of projects--advertising, manufacturing, construction. I loaned a copy of "Necessary But Not Sufficient" to the IT guys.  I shared his insights into the evils of efficiency measurements.

I also got connected with the TOC community out there through discussion boards and learned more from those certified as a "Jonah" (named after the professor in "The Goal" who guides Alex into success by asking relevant and pointed questions).

Eli Goldratt is truly one of those gurus who turned the world upside down by looking at things logically and reasonably. He passed away this past weekend leaving a legacy of ongoing improvement.

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