Monday, February 27, 2017

TOC and the Kanban


Remember TOC: The Theory of Constraints? Goldratt explained it in his business novel "The Goal".

TOC is alive and well if you use Kanban in your WIP management

First, you may ask, before considering the theory:

What is a constraint?
  • Limitation on throughput

What’s throughput?
  • Stuff, outcomes, that are valuable to business or client
  • That which is value-add to the business value proposition
  • Debris is not throughput; it’s overhead

Now, what's the Theory?:
Once a stage is full, there’s no advantage to keep piling up WIP inventory at earlier stages

And, what is it that I'm supposed to do as manager re TOC?

Subordinate to the constraint
  • “Efficiency” of widgets/hour at earlier stages is meaningless
  • To clear the constraint, subordinate all resource allocations to the priority of working on the constraint
    All hands on deck rule
And, how can I make a constraint more capable so that I can improve throughput?
  • Add similar resources (parallelism)*
  • Re-organize methodology at the constraint
  • Re-tool or re-train
  • Avoid constraint by going a different direction


* Beware of Brooks Law: adding resources to a late project makes it later (Fred Brooks: "The Mythical Manmonth")



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