May 21, 2008

Theory of Constraints

Jack Vinson blogs about TOC and I think the rules for technology given below are applicable for any change effort:

On recommendation of a friend, I re-read Necessary But Not Sufficient by Eli Goldratt, Eli Schragenheim and Carol A. Ptak. It's another Theory of Constraints business novel. This time the focus is on the principals at a large software vendor (ERP systems) and their primary systems integrator.

The rules for technology:

  1. What is the power of the technology?
  2. What limitation is being overcome (limited capacity, for example)?
  3. What old rules were followed because of the limitation (and need to be eliminated)?
  4. What new rules need to be created?

I liked how the authors walked through the discovery and articulation of these rules with the characters. The "limitation" is often hard enough to discover, but those "rules" that came about because of the limitation are a bear. They quite often have nothing to do with the technology being proposed, but without acknowledging them, the limitation becomes the rules themselves and the technology (or any other change) will never see its full benefit.

So what are the rules because of old systems that you ignore when changing systems and processes?