Goldratt introduced into the TOC vocabulary the word “choopchik”, originally Russian but also used in Hebrew slang to describe a very small unimportant issue. Dealing with a choopchik could bring value, which one needs a microscope to be able to see, according to Goldratt’s illustrative description.
The obvious insight is:
We are constantly flooded with choopchiks. We won’t achieve anything substantial if we spend time of those choopchiks. Thus, dealing with a choopchik is a major waste, because you have something much more valuable to do.
The emphasis is on our ultimate constraint of attention. The relevancy is both personal and organizational: focus on what brings value. When you inquire a little more into the cause-and-effect behind the above insight you realize that there is no way to achieve all the potential value you, or the whole organization, are theoretically able to achieve. So, you need to give up minor potential opportunities for added-value, and concentrate on achieving the more meaningful ones.
Insight means a new realization is happening. If it is obvious then it is just good effective verbalization of an already existing paradigm. However, is ignoring choopchiks truly common?
Just the other day someone told me a story about a good rational manager who spends a lot of time validating that every one of his subordinates works full weekly and monthly hours according to their contract. Isn’t it a choopchik? Still, isn’t it a pretty common practice?
When something obvious is not common then there has to be reason.
Here is a related insight:
Dealing with choopchiks is easy and certain, while striving to achieve substantial value is risky.
In itself the feeling of risk is frightening and fear causes paralysis, which impacts the person to be active on something else. Is the risk of striving to generate significant value all that high? Not necessarily, but one needs to evaluate the risky situation and find ways to reduce, or even eliminate the risk. The common mean to run away from thinking about risky moves with high potential value, is to focus on a choopchik and feel good of achieving an infinitesimal value.
So, shouldn’t you challenge the risk and strive to achieve true substantial value that is part of your dream? This is what the insight of not dealing with choopchiks is all about. The point of having a strange word to color an unimportant issue is to make it visible so we can pull ourselves and go back to what truly matters.
The more generic insight of ignoring choopchiks is to ask ourselves the following question:
Is the resulting value of what I’m busy with right now truly significant?
Personally I don’t want to write about topics that are choopchiks. I’m not always certain the topic I’m writing on is not a choopchik, but, the question certainly bothers me. So I assume I succeed to avoid many choopchiks, probably not all.
Let me remind you again of the coming TOCICO conference in Berlin. This is where the opportunities of gaining new insights are. I hope to see many of you there, talking to each other and sharing insights. Learning a significant insight from somebody else is a blessing. It depends on us to be open enough to notice the insight, and then to think further how to use it for generating value.