Focus on the core problem
Eliyahu M. Goldratt, founder of TOC (Theory of Constraints) used to say:
“We simply need to look at reality and think logically and precisely about what we see. The key ingredient is to have the courage to face inconsistencies between what we see and deduce and the way things are done. This challenging of basic assumptions is essential to breakthroughs. Progress in understanding requires that we challenge basic assumptions about how the world is and why it is that way. If we can better understand our world and the principles that govern it, I suspect all our lives will be better.”
Government agencies and businesses, large and small, have adopted TOC. It has been successfully applied in almost every area of human endeavor, from industry to healthcare to education.
Dr. Eli Goldratt always encouraged his readers to examine and reassess their lives and business practices by cultivating a different perspective and a clear new vision.
I invite you to do the same.
A traditional way to focus the improvements usually starts with a list of problems, of gaps between the existing situation and the desired situation. The gaps are quantified and, following the Pareto principle(1) (80/20 rule), items at the top of the list are taken as the targets for improvement. This approach leads, at best, to just marginal improvements, since at the base of the approach is the erroneous assumption that the gaps are not interdependent.
When the interdependencies are taken into account, it becomes apparent that the gaps are nothing but effects, undesirable effects (UDEs) of a much deeper cause. Trying to deal directly with the UDEs does not lead to the recognition of what actions should be taken. Actually, it leads to many actions that should not be taken.
The TOC Thinking Processes helps to identify the underlying core problem, the ways to remove it, and to do so without creating new UDEs.
I myself use the TOC Thinking Processes at the moment to analyze why so many change initiatives fail. I already identified the underlying core problem and now I am in the process of developing methods based on TOC to improve changemangement and the successful implementation of change initiatives.
As you can see, the possible applications of the TOC are (almost) unlimited. The only thing you should always consider is…
(1) It is believed that the elimination of the first 20% of the problems by appropriate improvement initiatives causes an 80 percent improvement in performance. The elimination of the remaining 80% of the problems would only lead to a 20 percent improvement in performance and is therefore often not carried out.