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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.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Can you apply Theory of Constraints to Human Capital?, asks Phil Wolff. He gets specific with more questions...
"How can we apply the Theory Of Constraints to workforce planning and recruiting?"
To the extent that the organization's constraint is associated with some scarce skill, the first question that needs to be asked is upon what skill we want our competitiveness to be based. If that's not where the constraint is, we want to deal with the constraint through cross-training and recruiting (and also unloading work from the people in which that skill resides -- work that doesn't require that skill) to move the constraint to it's desired location. This is what constraint-based strategy is all about, whether we're talking about constraints in people, processes, paradigms, or supply chain partners.
"Where are the bottlenecks to be overcome?"
It depends on the system and it's desired "strategic constraint." That said, it might also be in the heads of people who maintain erroneous assumptions about what constitutes system performance.
"Can the system design be reconsidered in light of the TOC?"
Obviously, yes, by applying the Five Focusing Steps (Identify, Exploit, Subordinate, Elevate, Repeat) as appropriate.
"What assumptions and dogma are worth challenging?"
All of them, including those associated with TOC. More specifically, one of the most important targets of question is the common assumption that an idle resource/person is a significant waste that has to be "dealt with." Without protective capacity (similar to what Tom DeMarco refers to as "slack"), the system will be too fragile -- too prone to chaotic, hard-to-manage disruptions and difficulties achieving more "goal stuff."
"What new values, behaviors, incentives, measures, and controls will lead to more of what we want?"
Simply, those that eschew local performance optimization in deference to global, system-wide performance -- those that subordinate to carefully developed strategies to deal with the system's constraint.
"How can we get more of the right people on our radar?"
Become known for treating people fairly, honorably, and with common sense. (For example, if your constraint is in your ability to attract market, use the creativity of your people to focus on that -- not on cost-cutting layoffs that will not address the real issue.) The right people will pop up on your radar on their own.
"Spend more time spent in meaningful conversation and less on paperwork?"
Just do it!...once you understand what constitutes "meaningful conversation" and not meaning-less choopchiks...frank and open (and eventually rational) discussion about "what to change, to what to change to, and how to make the change happen."
"Shorten our cycle times while increasing our quality?"
An easy one. Do this to repeal Parkinson's Law and to protect quality from due dates, and this to prevent multi-tasking-driven distraction and rework.
"Along the way, can we take some of the strain out of the process?"
Yup. By eliminating conflicting local performance drivers that force people to do things they know don't make sense.

It's all about (un)common sense.

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