My last post has stirred a lot of responses, which makes me optimistic as many people care and wish to improve what we have already achieved.
I’m going to layout a certain idea as an initial direction. I also include a similar, yet different, solution by Kevil Kohls, with whom I have exchanged mails on top of the exchange of comments in the blog.
Leo Lauramaa challenged the hidden assumption that “TOC is for everyone”. Let me simply state that I believe (when I cannot logically prove I use the term ‘believe’) that the assumption is valid. TOC uses rational tools, based on logic and common sense observations, but TOC still recognizes emotions and intuition. I see TOC as a general managerial approach that should stretch out to other methods, like Lean and Agile, which bring good value, and analyze them to decide when they are effective and what should be challenged. I assume managers in medium and large companies are capable to deal with rational arguments.
Some basic assumptions of mine are important for the direction I propose:
- Competition between TOC consultants is good!
- The Client gets a choice with whom to work on, and TOC becomes legitimate and widely recognized.
- The main competition is with the current common approach of dissecting the organization into smaller parts pretending they are independent.
- The real value of TOC is leading the organizations to become ever-flourishing. This holistic approach means planning the appropriate Strategy ensuring every part of the organization is aware what to do and when to do.
- Value can be generated also by partial implementation. I understand the opinion that starting with partial implementation could, sometimes, lead to the holistic one. I think that starting with the global vision has much better chance, but this is part of the individual strategy of every consultant and practitioner.
- The core difficulty to market TOC is that “it looks too good to be true”, as mentioned by Kevin Fox, and this causes a considerable fear. We need to learn how to overcome personal fears of people we have to convince. People overcome fear when they realize many others have successfully tried it.
Many of the responses, for instance by Kevin Fox and Henry Camp, claim that more big successes becoming known would open the way for TOC. We also need the successes to be sustainable for long time. We better remember that the big competitors of TOC also declare successes and that it is not trivial to prove a sustainable success. Eventually we need to convince through successes and also through the logic of the insights that applying them have to bring huge value.
The first obstacle for success is gaining access to top management of organizations to make them listen. This could be the result of effective marketing based on the chance of hearing something promising for just small amount of attention.
The next obstacle is convincing management of the huge value in applying TOC holistically. There are two obstacles to achieve that: showing them that TOC can, specifically, help them succeed in a big way, and vastly reduce their fears. This mission is definitely sales, but it has to be properly backed-up by marketing messages and preparation, taking into account the characteristics of the organization and what could be the decisive-competitive-edge (DCE) for such an organization.
The third obstacle is making sure the implementation is successful. This is where the TOC knowledge and experience are required plus the personal capabilities of the TOC expert leading the implementation. In order to sustain the success beyond the intervention of the TOC expert the management needs to be educated in TOC. Succeeding to achieve that enhances the chance of getting more organization listening.
How can we overcome the above obstacles?
My direction of solution is to gather a group of top TOC experts, call it The TOC Consortium, to support high variety of TOC implementations, by giving the projects the power of international reputation, giving high level advice on critical issues, possibly facilitating the S&T and carry audits to identify obstacles and negative branches and guiding to overcome them.
The consortium would not push certain consultants over others and it could be part of competing offers to the same organization.
Goldratt initiated a series of seminars leading to two-hour meetings with the management of the interested companies. I think the idea can be still implemented. For the two-hour meeting a highly experienced TOC person is required. I also recommend that the level of promise would be high, but not close to the unbelievable target set by Goldratt – getting net profit equals to the current turnover in four years.
Most of the support should be delivered from a distance given mainly to the local TOC experts. From time-to-time it is possible to send one of the top consultants to the specific location to help with the S&T, auditing or solving a critical issue. The point is to provide support not to take over the implementation.
This direction involves close relationships between the people in the implementation and the consultants of the consortium. These are business relationships, based on win-win-win, the client, the local TOC people and the international consultants. The value is to create the right image of knowledge and experience, and also to actually use both in the implementation to guaranty success.
The missing element is how the TOC education is handled. I hope that either TOCICO would be able to step in, or another international consortium is built to educate from a distance at an affordable price.
Kevin Kohls has a similar idea of a consortium with different scope. Here are the main ingredients of his solution:
The Goldratt Consortium – Brainstorm
- A virtual group that would meet by teleconference on a regular schedule and perhaps before or after TOC-ICO.
- Their Goal is to make TOC the main way, and a Necessary Condition is to make money.
- It’s its members will be anyone who wants to pursue this purpose, but should include consultants, academics and TOC customers.
- They have a holistic framework based on the S&T trees, with appointed champions in key TOC areas: Throughput Accounting, Thinking Process, CCPM, etc.
- Part of their objective is to give better definition to what TOC is and isn’t, and talk through other perspectives and tools that are not within TOC, such as Lean methods, Motivation, Routines & Habits, Resistance to Change, etc., and see how they should or should not fit into TOC solutions.
- Non-profit training is one of the highest priorities, especially for it internal members.
- They are always trying to reduce implementation lead time for their tools.
- Recommendation of one or two tools that are the “best” tools for speed and quality. This could generate a few negative branches.
- They should do some work on a non-profit basis, with the objective to pass the work on from one expert to another as the veiled holistic approach is rolled out.
Kevin added the following FRT: