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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.

Friday, December 13, 2002

Learning About Lean -- I've been watching this blog from Joe Ely for a while now, ever since he chronicled the leaning of a bake sale operation. His recent blog posting struck me as another span in the bridge between thoughtful Lean applications and TOC.
"I wrote yesterday about the most excellent article by Mark Rosenthal of Genie Industries on the two pillars of Lean(click here to read the article).

As I reread it last night and this morning, I was struck by the simplicity of his four points of implementing the human side of Lean:
1. Detect the abnormality.
2. Stop
3. Fix or correct the immediate condition.
4. Investigate the root cause and install a countermeasure.
We find here that step 2 is the most difficult. Why, we ask, should we stop right in the middle of what we are doing? We won't get it done otherwise!"
There's a parallel here with one of the aspects of TOC -- the third of TOC's five focusing steps -- "Subordinate everything else to the strategy for exploiting the constraint." The act of subordination is often one of omission rather than comission. So very often, the desire to "do something" leads to self-defeating actions, misaligned efforts, or misguided measures of local success that get in the way of global performance. Rosenthal's "abnormalities" are probably put forth as undesirable effects of a process or a system; in TOC the "abnormalities" of conflicted, misaligned behaviors are also causes of systemic suboptimization.

The difficulties in "stopping" a process to fix it are closely related to the difficulties "stopping" the policies and behaviors that might be beneficial at the local level, but are causes of shortchanged achievement of goals. Sometimes the best advice is "Don't just do something. Sit there."

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