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   So, we have two conflicts here. Both are caused by the uncertainty with which we live. Can we eliminate the ex­istence of Murphy? This would be a nice solution. With­out any uncertain events disrupting the planning—the execution should simply follow the plan and that's it.

   TOC proposed a structured way to analyze such a problem. As the entity in box D seems necessary to achieve the one at B, and D' is necessary for C (and B and C for the ultimate objective at A), we should reveal all the basic assumptions behind the claim: we need D in order to achieve.

   Each of the basic assumptions provides an oppor­tunity to eliminate the conflict if we find a way to chal­lenge the assumption, meaning find a solution where the assumption is not valid. Consider, for instance, as­sumption #1. If we are in a market that does not de­mand any predictable performance from us, as are the rest of the stakeholders, then we have eliminated the conflict—we can replan every time Murphy acts. In a way, a stand-up comedy show has a market that re­quires unpredictability, so let the performer surprise us. In the vast majority of the markets, surprises are not welcome.

TOC chooses to challenge assumption #5: Murphy forces substantial changes to the optimal plan/schedule.


How can we plan in such a way that Murphy won't be able to disrupt the planning?


When we include an appropriate protection mecha­nism within the planning!


Can we protect every detail that happens to be in­cluded in the plan? That is certainly not practical.


But, if we concentrate the protection on the few criti­cal parts of the planning, we might then immunize our planning against most of the common disruptions.

Certainly, the critical parts of any planning are the planning objectives. The objectives of any production schedule include shipping every firm order on time and of high quality. The objective of any project planning is to finish on time, within budget, and according to speci­fications. The objective of any budgeting is to prevent wasting money while allowing the necessary expenses to be made.

So, we certainly need to protect the objectives of the planning from disruptions. In order to do that, we may need to define some critical intermediate objectives that must be met. TOC claims only a few truly critical inter­mediate objectives exist in reality. If we protect those critical elements within the plan, we have a great chance of meeting all the objectives.

But, one might raise a reservation. As Murphy can be pretty active, how can we eliminate the chance that the planned protection will be fully exhausted? Out of 1,000 small incidents that act against us every week, one or two might be large enough to pierce the protection we've installed. When we look for thousands of material items, one item may be missing for such a length of time that the complete planned protection disappears and real damage starts to accumulate.


The TOC answer holds special insight. Let's call the special protection mechanisms buffers. The idea is to monitor the state of the buffers and identify the situa­tion where a buffer is almost exhausted. Then, special actions should be taken to fix that. In other words, ex­pediting takes place only when one of the planned buff­ers is consumed to the point that it threatens a critical element of the planning.

Challenging assumption #5 eliminates the conflict. It clearly states that we should replan only in very rare cases. In the majority of the cases, the plan along with its im­bedded buffers is executed as is. In some cases expediting efforts are taken to fix a truly serious situation.


Part 1  Part 2   Part 3  Part 4  Part 5

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