James Powell and Kevin Kohls conducted an interesting discussion about marketing TOC and the way for success. I like to follow up and make some generic observations and conclusions from my perspective.
Every TOC consultant has the goal of making more money now and in the future. In order to achieve as much of the goal the use of at least some of the TOC techniques could be beneficial. If TOC as a brand name for a superior effective managerial approach is very strong then the consultant would include TOC in his own marketing and sales efforts. Thus, the reputation of TOC could be a major marketing vehicle, but not every time and not for all consultants. This is because when the competitors also use TOC as a brand name then maybe some other aspects of the offering become more dominant.
What we all miss here?
I think that we miss the big promise for HUGE value. In my original post I wrote a common belief (no hard proof yet) that all TOC practitioners have:
TOC has the potential to bring HUGE value to the vast majority of the organizations
If this is true then TOC can do much more than fix the current core problem and achieve many desired-effects. TOC is able to guide the managerial thinking to ongoing growing success, while keeping the organization from trouble. If this is true, and if we find a reliable way to achieve and prove it, the personal goal of the TOC consultants would go up, no matter how good it already is. In such a case, the TOC consultant would gain a real decisive competitive edge. When an organization, or an individual (a consultant or a lawyer), has a decisive competitive edge it does not mean that there is no competition. It means that the competition does not truly diminish the results!
What many successful consultants do is to establish themselves within a niche. There are two meanings to that niche. One is the group of organizations the consultant feels he knows well the cause-and-effect and has already a certain reputation with them. The other is that within this group of potential clients the consultant offers a certain mix of services that give good value for that group.
For instance, several key TOC consulting firms focus on medium and large retail chains, and within the retail chain they considerably improve the availability and also keeping excellent control on the assortments to ensure effectiveness. This is certainly yielding excellent value.
But, within Retail there are other areas that could be vastly improved. Many times the availability and assortment control are, at the time, the core problem. Sometimes (not every time) improving those aspects create a certain decisive-competitive-edge for the retail chain, even though without advertising the superior availability I suspect the value to the customer would take very long time, and most TOC consultants do not go into the advertising campaigns of the retailers. Advertising, the definition of the specific market segments, the choice of products to display, the placing of the assortments within the store and the human relationships with the agents are just sporadic examples of areas that need to be part of the overall Strategy – if we truly mean to give HUGE value.
No person can be expert in everything. I watched Eli Goldratt very closely how he reacted to a new environment. As Goldratt was unbelievingly brilliant he could see signals and drew the cause and effects very fast. Many times he was right on. Many times he was mistaken, but I’ve realized it only later because of his extraordinary charisma people tended to agree with him, even when they did not.
How can we compensate ourselves for being not as brilliant and not experts in ALL areas?
By being confident enough to ask questions and judge the quality and relevancy of the answers, and by being able to collaborate with others that have somewhat different experience and knowledge and again be able to judge the quality of the answers by the use of cause-and-effect logic.
My suggestion aims at the ambitious target of establishing TOC, all over the world, as an international, holistic and powerful managerial approach that brings HUGE value to any organization. The key idea is collaboration between experienced people, from various geographical locations, who have wide and varied experience and share the passion to make it happen.
Should the consortium be not-for-profit? How should (or not) the consortium recommend consultants? How should the communications between local consultants and more than one experienced-international-TOC-consultant be effective from a distance? These are part of the issues to be analyzed and agreed upon. Certainly a group of experienced TOC experts can come to an agreement how to start working and be flexible enough to introduce changes when reality shows it is necessary.