The very minimum to know about Theory of Constraints
In order to define Theory of Constraints (ToC), it is necessary to define what a constraint is. A constraint is anything that limits the system (organization, enterprise, group, process…) from achieving higher performance relative to its purpose.
- A constraint does always exist, otherwise the system would be infinitely successful, constantly achieving higher performance.
- A constraint can be part of the system or lying outside of it, e.g. supplies limit the transformation of material, dull market limits the sales, regulation limits operations, etc.
Theory of Constraints is a “business philosophy” or “management paradigm” that takes into account the existence of constraints, focuses on the one that limits the performance of the whole system and strives to achieve more of its goal (patients treatment, sales, throughput, sales, whatsoever).
The constraint is often referred to as the weakest link of the chain (metaphor for the whole process), which limits the performance of the chain. It is therefore useless to improve any other link as long as the weakest has not been strengthened. ToC claims to focus on the most critical factor (the weakest link), while Lean in comparison is often deployed in unfocused way, wasting resources to improve any link of the chain without really improving the whole chain.
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