E-mail reply by Scott Daniel (V-Pres. of Mfg.) to Pat Burke (Controller) at Texas Die Casting
I thought that since you seem interested in comparing the "Continuous Improvement Programs" we've seen so widely used, I'd at least give you my opinion of WHY TOC WORKS.
A) Most business Managers can easily relate to Alex, and his dilemma. We all feel we've worked for a "Peach" at one time or another, and have been faced with seemingly impossible objectives, which have far-reaching consequences. In short, "Misery loves Company".
B) The improvement process in "The Goal" is presented as both logical and simple to implement. With a little bit of direction, Alex and his team are able to stumble through their issues, and develop their own workable solutions.
C) The "5-Step Process" effectively removes the blame from finding and resolving constraints. "Herbie" is presented as a very human element with the best of intentions, yet in need of help from others. We find that Alex and his co-workers are really no different. This promotes a more "global" outlook to issues in business.
D) " The Goal" promotes Teamwork! In successfully completing a hike, or saving a business, involvement from others was critical. It gives a real human twist to "subordination". The identification of "Human Insulation Layers" is ground-breaking stuff. Most people are instinctually so defensive in the business environment, that removing insulation layers is "Job One".
E) The whole Improvement Process is presented as a wheel, where it is OK to make mistakes, try the wrong solutions, then try again. The key is to develop a culture of "PLAN-DO-CHECK RESULTS", and build your successes from there. Many improvement programs or ideas are never tried, from fear of reprisals if unsuccessful.
F) Success and happiness at work are tied to success and happiness at home, and vise-versa. Here's a concept we all know to be true, but few are ready to admit. This becomes a very "human" motivation for resolving work related issues. It's a very human story with a happy ending.
G) Through-out the story, data is being used to guide decisions. Be it time, pieces completed, inventory issues or sales, the message is loud and clear that "GOOD DECISIONS ARE BASED ON GOOD DATA". This is a critical part of any well run company.
H) The root concept of why we run businesses is clearly defined. I fear some DECISION MAKERS lose sight of the simple reason of being in business; "TO MAKE MORE MONEY NOW AND IN THE FUTURE". Reducing operating expense and inventory, as well as increasing through-put is a grass-roots shopping list for continuous improvement.
Some of the other Continuous Improvement programs we've seen involve arduous technical training (Six Sigma Blackbelts) and almost "other world" cultural changes. TOC relates to the every-day guy with every-day problems, and offers a simple element of hope of better things to come. Who wouldn't want to try it?