PRESENTING THE CONFLICT
The theory of constraints (TOC) has a way of presenting a problem,
describing it as a conflict between two
contradictory actions, each of them truly required for
the same objective.
On the one hand, you wish to plan carefully and in detail all the
actions required for effective synchronization. In our complex
systems, we absolutely need that
kind of synchronization to achieve the optimum performance
of the organization as a whole.
On the other hand, our organizations are impacted
by a high level of uncertainty.
Some call that "Murphy."
The immediate result of
Murphy's activity is that we cannot
strictly follow the planning. So, in order to deal with
the uncertain nature of our
environment, we need to
override the schedule.
The life of most people in operations can be described
by that conflict—we should plan and, at the same time,
we should override the plan.
Nowadays we have APS (advanced production and scheduling) systems
and powerful computers, meaning
we can now replan in no time. That means that whenever
Murphy affects us, we can replace the old planning,
which does not take into consideration the specific
Murphy activity and generate a new optimal plan that
does take into account the disrupting event.
In this way APS eliminates the distinction between
planning and execution.
But this new technological capability generates hazards
of its own. We can now present a somewhat different
conflict that characterizes the decision-maker at the execution
Again, the conflict is stated in the D and D' boxes.
On the one hand, you wish to keep to the original schedule
as closely as possible in order to preserve the underlying
objectives (like the due dates and expense level)
thus keeping the system safe and stable and, most importantly,
maintaining predictable performance. Is it
important to have predictable
you need it when you make any commitment to your
customers. You wish to be
certain you can meet the commitments
once you made them. You don't want to be
forced to change your
commitments whenever Murphy
is around. It is bad for the
lasting reputation and success
of your business.
Just to illustrate the point, annual budgeting is a special type of
planning. Would you like to change the annual
budget every time an unexpected event occurs?
On the other hand, in order to truly perform best, you
must update the planning. Well, as this happens quite
often, and considering the complex synchronization that
is required, substantial changes are expected. The new
planning is better equipped to extract the most from the
system. And we like that to support the ultimate objective,
stated in box A, to drive the organization to success.