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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.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

A Construction Constraint -- Joe Ely, of Learning About Lean fame, reports on a recent visit to one of his firm's construction sites.
"After some pleasantries, I eased carefully into what I saw at his site on Monday afternoon; activity but no progress. He sighed. 'Yes, that's what you saw. And you know why? The concrete subcontractor only owns enough forms to set 45 lineal feet of concrete wall at a time.'

"Indeed. That was exactly what I saw. One end wall of the basement was about 70-80 feet long and only half of it was formed up. This is a classic illustration of constraints. The crew I saw working aimlessly had a physical constraint limiting their ability to create value for the customer; they had a fixed amount of concrete forms. What do you do when encountering a constraint?"
(read on for Joe's answer, and the deeper questions he brings up...)
It's interesting that once you start to appreciate the concept of constraints and the all-important effect they have on what you are trying to accomplish, you start to see them everywhere. The one that always gets my goat is the decision to set up a buffet against the wall, cutting in half the potential throughput (and delaying my dinner) by eliminating the possibility of two lines serving themselves from either side of the table. (Can you tell I'm on day two of a diet?)

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