We have previously introduced the Strategies and Tactics developed by Dr. Eli Goldratt in a series of blog posts. The Strategies & Tactics are very versatile tools that can be used in a variety of situations and are in constant evolution.
In 2012, Dr. Alan Barnard presented some of these more recent developments, aimed at simplifying processes while at the same time effectively integrating them into other management tools.
From Gap to Goal
The first step of an improvement initiative is often the most difficult. The organizational goal still appears so far. You know that the current performance is not good enough to get you there – but where exactly should you improve?
Dr. Barnard offers a simple approach to help you develop the Strategies and Tactics necessary to reach your goal:
1. Find the gap between the current and the target situation.
2. Identify the common mistakes leading or contributing to the gap.
3. Rank these mistakes by impact. Acknowledge potential dependencies between the individual mistakes.
4. Develop the corresponding Strategies and Tactics in the same order (the mistake with the biggest impact being eliminated first, of course).
Below, you can find this procedure illustrated by example of the changes necessary for improved flow within the system:
Source: Dr. Alan Barnard, “HYPOTHESIS 1 TO SIMPLIFY S&Ts: Gap & Common Mistakes/ UDEs & S&T”2
On the left you can see listed all (!) mistakes leading to the gap; their elimination is the basis of the Strategies and Tactics necessary and sufficient to achieve the goal. Each of these elements (the goals of the individual strategies and tactics) must fulfil the following criteria:
- They contribute to a higher-level objective
- They can be pursued for their own sake
- They can be measured independently
Building onto this, you can, where necessary, construct the next level of your “tree”, until you have defined all necessary steps, individually executable, in the right order.
You can easily insert an Evaporating Cloud within this process in order to identify and resolve any potential conflicts by using S&Ts. We have already explained this method in detail in the last post of the “Continuous Improvement” series.
The Change Matrix Cloud
The Evaporating Cloud, in conjunction with Dr. Goldratt’s Change Matrix (video), is the basis for the Change Matrix Cloud, also developed by Dr. Barnard, and which we have presented in great detail in this post.
In this context it can be used to clarify complex situations. In the simplest case, the crocodile (negative effects if no change) is the exact opposite of the “pot of gold” (positive outcome of the proposed change); crutches and mermaid too are in opposition. In this case, all you need to do is break one assumption to make the conflict evaporate.
An example: if you leave work earlier, you will have more time for your family, but you will not complete your task. If you stay late, the exact opposite is the case. Your injection here can be simple: is it really true that the task will not be completed? Can you perhaps avoid distractions and get more done during the day? Can you switch priorities? Delegate? In this way, the conflict can be resolved with a simple injection.
For complex situations – especially if multiple parties are affected by the change – this simple polarity will not suffice. Here you will have to fully eliminate the fears of all stakeholders in order to resolve the conflict. Dr. Barnard proposes four different approaches to break the conflict, which are being discussed in detail in this post. Once you have determined your injection, you can use this to construct the strategies and tactics necessary to achieve the desired change.
Die SWOT… Matrix Cloud
The Change Matrix Cloud also serves as a great base for a SWOT analysis, as you can see from the above illustration. Unlike the traditional SWOT model, the Change Matrix Cloud gives you focus: rather than treating each of the four elements individually, you define the conflict underlying them all and develop the necessary strategies and tactics to eliminate it.
Balanced Scorecard Strategy Map
The Strategy Map of the Balanced-Scorecard maps the organizational targets into four perspectives (financial, customers, internal and learning & growth), as you can see in the example below:
Example of a strategy map, cf ‚Die Balanced-Scorecard zur Strategieentwicklung für StartUps‘, Gruenderszene.de3
You can see that the focus here is also on detecting the interdependencies between the individual elements. General assumptions are not questioned, however – there is only superficial treatment of symptoms instead of identifying and removing the core problem.
This is where the rigorous nature of the TOC Strategies and Tactics can offer a definitive advantage. They allow you to determine and implement the necessary (and sufficient) changes to reach the organizational goal, in the right order. For each of the elements identified you will define (as per the BSC):
- Objective (or Strategy)
- Initiative (or Tactic)
A robust Auditing Tool
The use of Strategies and Tactics in monitoring the implementation has been previously discussed on this blog. An up-to-date overview of all strategies and tactics on the different levels, as offered for instance by the Harmony software package, presents you with the progress of the various steps and their respective dependencies at one glance. This allows you to correct course if necessary, or to challenge individual elements (strategies or tactics):
- Is the tactical implementation going well, but the corresponding strategy not achieved? Check if the tactic was implemented correctly, or if perhaps it was not necessary and/or sufficient after all.
- Has the strategy been achieved without the tactic being successfully implemented? Possibly the plan has not been updated recently – or external forces may have changed our circumstances without any action from us.
Like all tools developed within the Theory of Constraints, the Strategies and Tactics are perpetually being developed and improved. No doubt, new applications will be found along the way. The approaches we have introduced here offer a rough template for you to use in your organization or adapt to your specific requirements. The main point is not to be intimidated, but to approach it with an open mind and a willingness to experiment. This allows you to Learn From Experience within day to day operations and to use your new knowledge during your next improvement initiative.
1: Alan Barnard,TOCICO presentation “New applications of and developments in Theory of Constraints’ Strategy & Tactic” slides 15ff., 21ff, 2012.
2: ibidem, slide 23.