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Frank Patrick's Focused Performance Business Blog
This Focused Performance Weblog started life as a "business management blog" containing links and commentary related primarily to organizational effectiveness with a "Theory of Constraints" perspective, but is in the process of evolving towards primary content on interactive and mobile marketing. Think of it as about Focusing marketing messages for enhanced Performance. If you are on an archive page, current postings are found here.

Monday, September 23, 2002

From IndustryWeek - Aim High --
"Comparing the Best Plants finalists from the past five years with respondents to the most recent IndustryWeek Census of Manufacturers (2001), a greater proportion of the finalists have adopted a continuous-flow production strategy, pull systems and a cellular work structure. These plants also invest significantly more effort, but not more dollars, in employee training. And as ambivalent as many manufacturing executives are about the huge investments they've made in ERP, CRM, PDM and APS systems, the best manufacturers have managed to implement more in the area of information technology as well. All of this work seems to have paid off in shorter order-to-shipment lead times, higher on-time delivery rates, higher inventory turns and better quality.

"Lacking direct correlation, such cause-and-effect conclusions are risky. But a new study by researchers at Ohio State University's (OSU) Fisher College of Business, to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Operations Management, statistically links some of these organizational practices with better performance. The analysis is based on IndustryWeek's 1999 Census of Manufacturers. It reinforces many managers' intuitive understanding that diverse practices -- lean-manufacturing techniques specifically -- are more effective when implemented together as part an integrated program."
Those who buy into Constraint Management (TOC) as an overarching, integrating, holistic approach to "programs," or more importantly, to managing complex systems in general, have understood this for a long time. For example, it should be evident that the early implementations of TQM that all the broad training, problem-solving, chart-posting, and process teams did not deliver bottom line results commensurate with the effort expended. That's because only impacts on the system's weak links translate to system improvement. Strengthening already strong links does very little unless there is an understanding of how they would otherwise become new weak links or how the efforts will result in improvements to their support of the weak link.

Tools and techniques associated with approaches like Six Sigma and, to some extent, Lean Manufacturing, are excellent in dealing with local improvements in a system. What is needed to maximize and accelerate the results from such efforts, and what seems to be suggested in the IndustryWeek article, is a larger strategy for focusing improvement, or at least aligning it across the sub-functions and sub-processes of the system. TOC can supply such a strategy.

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