This post continues the case and the comments from the previous post. Please, read the previous one first.
The fictional case raised several very interesting comments. I hereby present just my own analysis. I suggest the readers read all the exchange of comments, make up their own mind regarding the case, and then try to generalize the lessons to assist in more general cases of dilemmas what should be included in our focus.
It is customary of TOC consultants to require that the TOC project, most certainly the Strategy and Tactic (S&T) project, gets precedent on any other change project that is running at the same time. The justification is both the assumption that TOC project would generate much more impact on the organization’s future than any other project, and that the level of management attention to the TOC S&T project is significant because it is based on paradigm shift(s).
The effectiveness of the decisive-competitive-edge (DCE), which is based on reliability plus the fast-response option, depends on the existing pain in the market. It also depends on whether the full value of removing the pain is properly recognized today and if so whether HighX, aided by the TOC expert, can accomplish a change in the awareness of the clients in short time. So, such a DCE could be very effective, but in other cases it is less effective.
There is another relevant variable that impacts the expectations from the proposed DCE: the level at which the other parameters that impact customer satisfaction are judged by the market. In the definition of the DCE as answering a need in a way no competitor can, there is also a necessary condition that all other characteristics of the company products and performance are on par with the competition.
So, it is necessary to re-check the seven projects that add new features to current products. Can those projects wait? The answer depends on the state of the competition regarding those features, assuming also that the features are truly needed.
Suppose that three or four of those projects are critical in order to preserve HighX position in those markets. Would we want to delay those until the launch of the new DCE? A message that HighX radically improves its delivery and response, but, at the same time is slow to introduce very needed new features, which the competitors already offer, would be very problematical!
A critical question is:
Is there enough management attention in HighX to focus on both the TOC initiative as well as on three or four truly critical developments of new features?
Management attention is a very loose term. Who are the managers that have to dedicate substantial amount of their attention capacity to the TOC initiative?
Are those managers also have to dedicate substantial attention to the development of the features?
The TOC S&T requires, at the very start, between four to eight days that are fully dedicated to understand the holistic concept, the related paradigm shifts, agreeing to the plan, developing the required actions, and attention, from every function and put it on the timeline. This initial part of the process creates a pressure on the attention and feeling of responsibility of all participants, but the limited duration should not seriously harm the current open projects.
One possible outcome of building the S&T and deriving the detailed plan is to freeze the three or four development projects that are not mandatory to keep the image of HighX intact. Still, three or four critical projects for maintaining the current image of HighX are still urgent.
In order to analyze the required load on management attention we should notice that after the consensus on applying the S&T the main attention burden will be first put on the shoulders of the production managers. They are faced with the new paradigm of choking the release and another of following the priorities of buffer management.
Are the same managers also need to pay a lot of attention to the projects developing new features?
They are definitely impacted by requirements for proto-type production and participating in some meetings to present the production obstacles. When the development is completed they need to introduce all changes into the regular production procedures. This is relatively routine work, which should not put major pressure on the production managers.
First conclusion: Have HighX focused on the TOC S&T and, at the same time, on several of the key R&D development of new features, while the other R&D projects are frozen until the completion of such a project would let to unfreeze another project.
What about the two bigger projects, which look for two new market segments?
Here we see a much more serious load on the Marketing and Sales Management. The S&T process after completing the build-up of the TOC procedures, policies and measurements in the Production, would face the serious challenge of developing the new value offer to the market! The project will also deal with training the sales force to be able to sell such a value offer to the market.
How would the Marketing and Sales managers be able to go through such challenges, while also preparing two more big moves of opening new market segments? This is where the load on the relevant managers might be way too high. It seems impossible to deal with two, certainly not three, such critical missions at the same time.
Another result of the introduction of the DCE is the possible dramatic increase of the load on the regular resource capacity in production. In the S&T after the part of ‘Capitalize’ comes the part of ‘Sustain’ – prepare for significant increase in demand in order to be able to keep the new delivery performance intact. It is clear that succeeding to enter a new market segment might bring more demand. It seems unwise to have the two different efforts to substantially increase the demand to take place at the same time!
Conclusion: The two bigger projects should be frozen at least until the Capitalize part of the S&T process is well established. Then it could be considered to continue, while making sure that the higher level of demand would not harm the delivery performance, which will be, at that time, a key in the image of HighX.