Do you remember the Theory of Constraints?
A system is only as good as its slowest part!
And because slow sections are a fact of life, we rally around the slow section part, not the fastest part, or the most talented!
Basically, the slowly part must never be left with nothing to do!
A faster section needs to be standing by to deliver their work just as they need it. No sooner – there is no point as they cannot do it. And no later because their downtime will hold everyone back.
We also need a signal to tell us that slow section is nearly finished what they are doing, and the signal should arrive just in time for the buffer to release the next lot of work. Again there is no point in sending it sooner because they cannot do it and while work sits around, it costs us money.
So we won’t start our piece until we are reasonably confident that the slow section can receive it! Remembering that they will sometimes take longer and sometimes take a shorter time, we must be ready to change our plans accordingly.
There are a lot of practical applications for the Theory of Constraints
- Put the slowest child in the front of the line not at the back. Everyone has to walk behind lest they leave the child behind completely!
- Add resources to the slowest part of work until they are the slowest part no more! And then work with the new slowest part.
- Don’t bother to take on more work than the slowest part can do. It cannot be completed no matter how hard others work.
- And of course never be the slowest unit in a team because you will have to work non-stop while others watch you!
The Theory of Constraints and your Career
Tell me, where are the critical links in your career? Where is the point through which everything else flows at least once?
Where is the point which holds everything else up?
Now focus on that point, and get it as efficient as you can. Don’t hurry it and create a long “to do” list. It does not help the work speed up.
Just find a way to make it more efficient and effective.
Rinse and repeat.
P.S. Theory of Constraints is not inconsistent with a strengths based approach to psychology. When we focus on what the slowest part does well and do more of it, the system runs better. When we treat the slowest part as a nuisance and start harassing it with a back load of work – do this, do that! – then it will just get slower and the system slows down more. Look at the strengths of the slowest part and we will all get along a lot quicker. Quick people? Wait. We can’t go faster than our slowest teammate but we can have what they need at their finger tips just when they need it!