Theory of Constraints
A Systemic View
The Theory of Constraints (TOC) is the concept that every system is limited by a constraint. Without a constraint, a system would be unlimited.
Think of a garden hose with a kink. The kink limits the total flow of water going through the hose. In order to increase the flow, you must straighten the kinked section of hose. As you can imagine, straightening any other part of the hose would be a waste of effort. To get more throughput out of your system, you must focus your efforts in the only section that will make a difference.
Since the kink, or the constraint, determines the output, it becomes useful in monitoring your system. Watching the flow through the constraint will allow you to determine the health of the system, therefore giving you more control.
This Theory of Constraints is a management approach originated by Eli Goldratt, a physicist who applied scientific thinking to business. His business novel, “The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement” (North River Press, 1984), has sold millions of copies and has been translated into over 27 languages. His revolutionary concepts have also been applied to the management of Manufacturing, Marketing, Project Management, Distribution and Supply Chain and Strategic Analysis.
Five Focusing Steps of the Theory of Constraints
- Identify the system’s constraint
- Decide how to best exploit the constraint. (Get the most out of it.)
- Subordinate all other processes to the above decision. (Don’t block or starve the constraint.)
- Elevate the system’s constraint. (Get more of the constraint.)
- Don’t let inertia become the constraint. This is a Process of Ongoing Improvement.
Theory of Constraints in Manufacturing is called Drum-Buffer-Rope. Click here to find out how it works.