This article is part of a series on Lean and the Theory of Constraints. Here is the 3 part series:
- Lean and Theory of Constraints: An Either/Or Proposition?
- The Theory of Constraints – The Fundamentals
- Reconciling Lean and The Theory of Constraints
I’m not a fan of dichotomous thinking – either / or.
For one, it’s formally a psychological disorder and, two, it’s neither practical nor true. As with most things in life, there is usually at least a third choice – in fact, there are many more choices, realistically.
So, when voices – loud voices – claim their business philosophy is better than such and such, I have to step back and evaluate: Isn’t there an alternative? Instead of “or”, isn’t there an “and”?
This is true for Lean Thinking, Six Sigma, Systems Thinking, and Theory of Constraints. Arguing which is better is a waste of time. The pragmatic approach is that there is good in all of them. Take what works, apply it appropriately for your business, and if the results are good and the approach was humane and good, then roll with it.
In this series on Lean and The Theory of Constraints, I’ll attempt at reconciling the two business philosophies and show how they can work together and help improve the organization.
The Theory of Constraints first emerged from Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt’s popular book “The Goal“. That book is now required reading in most business courses because it reads easily: it’s a business novel, but embedded in the novel is a strong message about constraints or bottlenecks and their impact on a business.
Lean Thinking was popularized by Womack and Jones in their landmark book “The Machine that Changed the World.” The term “Lean” was coined by a Bob Hartman, an MIT researcher who used that word to describe how Toyota did “everything with half of everything” – half the people, half the budget, half the space, with fewer quality problems and delivered in half the time than its competitors.
In the next section, I’ll highlight the fundamentals of Lean Thinking and The Theory of Constraints.