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Unconstrained Thinking
-- Weakness as Strength

If I say “value-adding core competency,” what comes to mind? Whatever it is for your organization, you probably think of it as one of your key strengths, a source of competitive advantage, or maybe even the reason your business exists.

What if I said that you should take that strength and turn it into your weakness?

Before laughing, try the following logic . . .

If (A) a strength of a system is a function at which it excels, and if (B) that strength can put it or keep it ahead of competition, and if (C) it is desirable to count on your strength rather than on a non-strength to achieve your goals, then (D) it is desirable that a system's strength be relied on as the determining factor of its success. (Make sense so far?)

Now from a slightly different tack, if (E) the limiting capability of the determining factor limits the system from achieving more success, and if (F) the constraint of a system is that which limits it from achieving more success, then (G) the constraint of the system is the determining factor of its success. (A basic TOC definition.)

So, combining these two, if (D) it is desirable that a system's strength be relied on as the determining factor of its success, and if (G) the constraint of the system is the determining factor of its success, then (H) it is desirable that system's strength be its constraint. (One might call it its desired "strategic constraint.")

If (H) it is desirable that system's strength be its constraint, and if (I) the current constraint of the system is not always its strength, then (J) the system must take actions to assure that anything that is not its strength does not remain its constraint.

Maybe in my initial proposition, “weakness” was a strong word, but some people do confuse the idea of the “constraint” with “weakness.” The bottom line is that to get the most out of your system, nothing else should be so weak as to interfere with getting the most out of your strength. Does that mean your strength should be your weakness?

Think about it. What's your strength and what's limiting it?

©2001, Frank Patrick

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. - F. Scott Fitzgerald

This is one of a series of columns on improvement, TOC, constraint management, change management, systems thinking, uncommon sense, and whatever else comes into my mind. Suggestions for topics are welcome. - FP, 908-874-8664 or via the contact page of this site.

If you are interested in using these 1/2-page columns for your APICS, ASQ, or IIE newsletter, let me know through the same channels, and I'll send you the more easily usable MS Word versions.

-- Frank Patrick


Related links:

Unconstrained Thinking Index

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