While education around concepts and methodologies are part of these programs, the objective is not education itself; the objective is significant and sustainable "bottom line" results. Once it is recognized that an organizational system relies on the effectiveness of the interrelated links and linkages of its "value chain," it becomes clear that the "weakest link" needs to be addressed to achieve meaningful improvement. But this requires not only working on the single link, but also addressing the interconnectedness between it and the much of the rest of the organization. We need to synchronize a range of efforts to assure that the constraining function is not unnecessarily limited by our own decisions.
TOC is typically put to use in one of two ways:
Sharp Focus Solutions for Immediate Constraint Breaking
Sharp Focus Solutions are designed to address an organization's current (and sometimes secondary) constraint(s), usually in a matter of 1-6 months. (At one end of the scale, a Drum-Buffer-Rope Production implementation can be designed in about a week, with visible results typically realized in a month. At the other end, a complex Multi-Project Management implementation can take 3-6 months to schedule all existing projects and bring the full management system up to speed.) As such, these types of programs significantly affect one or two functions within an organization and therefore involve a relatively localized integration of TOC know-how and applications.
In a Sharp Focus Solution, there are two main deliverables. One is typically logistics related and usually highly oriented towards one internal function (i.e. production, distribution, project management, etc.) The other is often market oriented, and usually addressed through the creation of an unrefusable offer that leverages the new capabilities of the improved internal performance.
Deep Focus Solutions for a Sustainable Growth Strategy
Deep Focus Solutions are designed to establish an organization as a clear leader in their industry and desired market within 3 to 5 years. As such, a Deep Focus endeavor significantly affects the functioning of the entire organization and thus require a more comprehensive integration of TOC know-how, applications, implementation support services and support systems (i.e. software).
For Deep Focus Solution, there are two main deliverables that differ from a Sharp Focus Solution primarily in scope of effect. The first is in positioning the organization to provide fast, reliable, product or service availability. This often involves addressing internal logistical constraints, possibly in several iterations as the organization is transformed. The second involves moving the organization from the mindset of order taking to a mindset of order making. This requires the organization to deeply internalize the process for creating a series of "unrefusable offers" to the market, as well as how to overcome resistance to change - both internal and with customers. In a Deep Focus Solution, there is a need to develop a strategy based on where you want your constraint to be, as well as which lucrative markets are going to be aggressively pursued. Together this provides the basis by which the organization is fully realigned for sustainable success.
Both of these solutions start with a Clear Focus Workshop in order to develop clearly focused alignment in the various functions of the organization around the idea of the constraint and the systemic conflict that perpetuates it. This is done in terms of the organization as a whole for a Deep effort or in the relationship of the target function or process with the rest of the organization for a Sharp effort, and serves as the starting point for laying out the strategy -- the roadmap -- to long term success.
Sometimes the Clear Focus Workshop is enough to get the organization on the right track. And sometimes, that planning effort highlights the needs for TOC-based solutions that Focused Performance can help with.
Both of these implementations share a common structure, based on peeling away the Six Layers of Resistance that are bound to be encountered when developing and instituting a significant change.
Layer 1 (Lack of agreement on the problem) The initial phase of an implementation, involving a leadership team for a Deep Focus Solution or a more functionally oriented team for a Sharp Focus Solution, involves the introduction of necessary technical know-how by a qualified facilitator. A carefully designed process, capitalizing on simulations, experiments, and the intuition of the participants, leads participants to agree upon the problem to be solved and...
Layer 2 (Lack of agreement on the direction for a solution) ...work together to find a breakthough for a solution that will be hard for competition to copy.
Layer 3 (Lack of agreement on the complete solution) When the team has agreed upon the potential viability of a proposed solution, it is then applied to and refined for application in their environment, resulting in an initial vision of a desirable future state.
Layer 4 (Concerns about negative side effects of the proposal) Concerns regarding unwanted negative side effects are solicited from the team until they agree that all such reservations have been dealt with. The result is a truly complete solution -- one that avoids any identifiable side effects.
Layer 5 (Identification of obstacles blocking implementation) Once a complete solution is agreed upon, the team puts together plans to deal with all the obstacles that they can identify, including responsibilities and project schedules to assure they will happen.
Layer 6 (Unverbalized fear) If participants are encouraged to be open with their concerns in preceding steps, this is typically a minimal issue. However, it can appear. Facilitator follow-up, coaching, and support throughout the implementation, along with the participants' acquired abilities to address conflicts and concerns, helps deal with this potential resistance. During an implementation, participating team members are repeatedly exposed to and in most cases taught to use various TOC Thinking Processes for solving day-to-day problems. This enhances the ability of people within the organization to deal effectively with these issues, which can include concerns and conflicts they may not have been previously comfortable addressing. The combination of new abilities and new insights begins to strengthen and solidify the solution within the organization.
In order to assure that the solution surivives into the future, internal ownership and expertise are required. Team members who have gone through the process defined above will have ownership. It addresses their problems, their concerns, and their obstacles, and they can see the benefits of its implementation in ther area of responsibility. Others, however may need to be brought on board. Certain elements of the process described above may need to be repeated with other members of the organization as the implementation proceeds.
Ongoing internal expertise is created by providing as needed, for certain "process champions," in-depth training in the processes and methodologies of the core solutions. This is critical for the development of organizational self-sufficiency and to assure that the implementation results in sustainable success.
If you are interested in exploring how this process can be applied in your organization, at the level of either the enterprise or of its constrainting function, please contact Focused Performance. We can help you identify where and how to focus your attention for significant and sustainable results.
Introductory Seminars and Workshops
As mentioned above, Focused Performance is not into providing education for the sake of education but for the transfer of know-how necessary to support real efforts and achieve real results. However, sometimes, to make the decision to move in a particular direction requires a bit more up-front understanding of where the path might take you. To this end, Focused Performance can provide access to introductory seminars and workshops on the various solutions associated with TOC. Seminars are typically 1/2 to 1-day efforts brought to your site. Workshops go into more detail, are up to 2 days in length, and offered in both open and dedicated sessions.
For more information, contact Focused Performance via web, via email, or by phone at (908-874-8664)