A Guide to Implementing the Theory of
There Is More
This page is a
place holder for a number of things that I want to address, in fact, need to
The bulk of
this website was written over the period 2003-2004. The drum-buffer-rope pages; especially
make-to-stock, received a small overhaul in April/May 2005. The replenishment page got an overhaul in
June 2006. The evaluating change page
was written near the end of 2005, to replace one called accounting for
change, and it didn’t really get the complexity wrung out of it until
December 2007. More recent pages are
described in the postscripts below.
At the end of
2004 I knew that we had been down this path, the path of industrial
systemism, several times before in the last 100 years. Goldratt’s journey is just the latest and
maybe the most significant. It was apparent
that Deming had “been there done that” – well almost – and that nobody had
listened. Actually that is not
entirely true; some people did listen.
Henry Neave listened, H. Thomas Johnson listened, and Donald Wheeler
the student of Deming who was the student of Shewhart listened and carries
the knowledge forward. However, I was
amazed at the mis-information, or rather, mis-interpretation that surrounds
Deming. Maybe it isn’t even
mis-interpretation, but mis-appropriation of his name in support of something
that other people wanted to believe that he stood for.
If I was
amazed at what Deming had done and had been misinterpreted for, I was
absolutely dumbfounded at Taylor.
Almost everything that I read about Taylor, and believed, is
wrong. How do I know that? I went and read what Taylor said himself
and it bore no relationship what-so-ever with what other people said that he
had said, or said that he stood for.
How is it that
these two gentlemen, so incredibly important as they are, have been so strongly
mis-interpreted? How is it that one
set of actions can be interpreted as the direct opposite and then so readily
bought into by others? Why do we so
readily want to believe and re-believe these wrong stories? What comfort does it bring to us?
to this is the interpretation of Japanese approaches to industrialization and
their transmission back across the Pacific Ocean to America, often severely
distorted in the process. It is the
same issue. From the West to the East
the message is clear and undistorted, but on the return trip from East to
West most of the message is lost. We
are repeating with Lean the same errors that we have experienced twice
before. The content may be there in
part, but the context has been stripped clean.
If we don’t
learn from this, we will just continue to make the same basic error, time and
time again, that is for certain.
I was also
interested in organizations as communities, and had bought into the idea that
hierarchy and bigness were bad in some way, but it was not clear to me
how. That idea didn’t survive as I
will explain in a minute.
In early 2006
I began to play with an idea that a fundamental lack of exposure of
individuals to “industrial experience” underlies the paradox of why common
sense in this environment so often isn’t.
I think common sense should be common, but if we are deprived of the
common experience, or some other prior experience blocks us from future
learning, then common sense isn’t necessarily common at all.
I shared my
draft of that idea with the late John Caspari and I am especially grateful
for the one line e-mail that came back, it gave me considerable confidence
that I was on the right track. That
material is basically available at the moment as a PowerPoint, stripped to
the bare bones and called Values, Beliefs, and Industrialization. That PowerPoint stands on its own two feet
without modification, but I have since made the operating distinction that we
are dealing with, in the words of Taiichi Ohno, “beyond common sense.”
a number of important things fell into place.
Bill Dettmer sent to me an audio disk of Jerry Harvey talking about
the Abilene Paradox and negative fantasies.
Ah, how often had I heard negative fantasies and had not known what
they were, or how to handle them, or indeed what gave rise to them. Harvey’s work lead me to Elliott Jaques and
all I can say is thank goodness the psychologists understand (because
apparently nobody else does). Elliot
Jaques shows how hierarchy should be enabling, and offers a view on human
capability, and maturation of that capability, which is the antithesis of
most of the pulp that masquerades as management literature (and I mean the
material coming out of our best universities).
personal fascination with tacit knowing and abduction in logic, as a process
of learning, dragged me back to several books written by Gregory Bateson, and
another one written on Bateson by someone else. Bateson’s emphasis on errors of logical
type explains to me why we observe what we observe of the interpretation of
Deming, Taylor, and currently of Lean and Theory of Constraints. It also has independent and powerful
congruence with the work of Elliott Jaques.
once again, briefly, to capture the germ of the ideas of Harvey, Jaques, and
Bateson in a Power Point; Logical Types, Clouds, and Fantasies. A stand-alone text will have to wait, and
maybe graphics are far more effective in any case.
introduced me to the concepts of epistemology, and I began to learn as a
doctor of philosophy why we are doctor’s of
philosophy and ought to remain so.
Until we are willing to learn how we know what we know, we are “bound”
to continue repeating the errors of the past that we have observed in
applying systemic approaches to industrialization. We still don’t understand the “patterns
As I said at
the start of this page, there are a number of things that I want to address,
in fact, need to address; it requires time to access the information and
winnow the wheat from the chaff. There
is no shortage of chaff. But at least
I hope that I have given you some indication of the direction that I believe
that we need to take. If nothing else,
at least there are a couple of Power Point presentations available in the
I put some
time aside in March/April 2008 to pummel the pages in this section into
shape; they have sat around in varying degrees of incoherence since
2005. Instead, however, I overcame a
blockage regarding the Theory of Constraint’s approach to project management,
Critical Chain, and consumed that carefully allotted time with writing new
pages about project operations rather than rescuing these old pages on
broader and more fundamental issues.
At the same
time a need arose to introduce healthcare and to differentiate between Theory
of Constraints and Lean. If we don’t
understand this difference now, then we, in the West, are going to go down
the same path of “current fad = eventual failure.” That people are open to such fads is
powerful evidence that we all want to improve, and I care a great deal that
failure to improve will be read as a fact that we can’t improve, rather than
as a failure to truly understand the underlying and fundamental problem.
projects gave me some insight into how much multiple parallel dependencies in
healthcare are the cause of so much of the chaos and falling productivity
there. A significant issue is that
without an underlying logistical approach – without bringing time into the
focusing process – we will not know the difference between the important and
the urgent in healthcare. The Toyota
Production System, upon which Lean is loosely modeled has an underlying
logistical process embedded within it.
Lean unfortunately has been ported to healthcare without this. Not knowing where to focus, and why,
therefore becomes totally non-systemic.
“Totally non-systemic” is a nice way of saying “reactionary.”
write something to differentiate Lean and Theory of Constraints has been, in
retrospect, a useful exercise because it helped me to frame how to deal with
the jumble of Toyota, Kaizen, and Lean.
New English translations of the early work of Shingo and Ohno are also
now available and that should help even further.
I am reminded,
more and more, that the fundamentals – well almost all of the fundamentals –
that we must address were identified and effectively dealt with between the
1880’s and the 1920’s. That is they
arose with industrialization and were overcome. The only aspect which had to wait until the
1970’s was the formalized concept of a weakest link. If we return to the original work of
Taylor, Deming, Ohno, Shigeo, and Goldratt, we will be so much better off. To do so begs that we accept responsibility
ourselves rather than to transfer it to someone else.
said to a good friend something to the effect that I had a few loose ends to
tidy up on my website. I realized
later that this has been a consistent story for longer than I cared to
consider. But it is closer to the
truth now than ever before. Early in
2009 I made a concerted push to finish the page that I had come to call the
paradox of systemism. And at the end
of 6 or 7 weeks of concentrated work; 19,000 words or so, and 58 diagrams, I
had to put it aside. And in a way that
It was useful
because I was trying to explain things by not using clouds and also by using
clouds, now I have less reluctance to use clouds in that text, but will
retain that two-stage approach.
However, a number of other important things happened. Fellow New Zealander Gavin Cherry
introduced me to the concepts of Russell Ackoff – as though I had come from
another planet – which sent me off into a parallel universe. Ackoff appears to have had a very strong
influence on Deming’s Systems Approach.
Moreover, I understood for the first time the huge breach that exists
between the original system’s thinkers and the later system dynamicists. Its that same damn old dichotomy once again (no not
again); the systemic view versus the reductionist view.
Ackoff’s work occurred at a particularly timely juncture and I started to
incorporate it deeply within my own interpretation. For instance I had been bothered for some
time by Jaques hierarchy of: data, information, and knowledge. A hierarchy shared by Bateson. This was resolved by Ackoff’s extension
from “knowledge” through to “understanding.”
In turn, his definition of “wisdom” as a “development” of
understanding via values greatly aides the definitions of Jaques. And as for “effectiveness” I couldn’t have efficiently defined that before, although I have been
using it for years, until I read Ackoff.
All of these I will incorporate somehow into the paradox of
systemism. Ackoff’s approach to
purposeful systems also provides a rationale for why we so readily, and
continuously, make errors of logical type.
again, I am amazed at the fundamental work that went on in the 1930’s
(Shewhart) through to the 1950’s (Ackoff) which hides in plain sight because
our reductionist proclivities fail to bring it into the mainstream. Much of Ackoff, although on systems, is so
close to epistemology that it is hard to make distinctions. Ackoff makes an important distinction
between the cybernetics approach to systems
(essentially that of Bateson’s approach) whereby a system is often viewed as
a independent individual, and that of a more broader classification based
upon purposiveness. Out of this comes
an understanding of the subsidiary nature of the components that make up the
focal awareness of the whole system; and the extension that instrumentation,
telecommunication, and computation make to our own sensory awareness.
I also learnt
how, using the logic of abduction, to better explain the fundamental cloud
that underlies our modern systemic industrialization and I have been using
that with considerable success on a wide variety of people. It is a considerable step forward from the
earlier PowerPoint on Values, Beliefs, and Industrialization. It didn’t “fall off the back of a truck”
but evolved over several years and some damn hard work in-between.
I have been
challenged on a number of occasions by the general manager of very large
organization who effectively said “how come others don’t get this?” My understanding of why others don’t get
this is two-fold. The first is that
their sense of identity is so strongly attached to what they do know, and
therefore what they “hear” that contradict this is discounted and therefore
they don’t learn anything new. I have
always tried to counter this by making the learning tacit, rather than
explicit. Of course such people are
“clever” and quickly claim that they have no time to waste
and therefore don’t make time to experience new learning, and so indeed don’t
learn anything new (or anything old that they don’t currently know).
recently a second theme has revealed itself.
It comes from Michael Polanyi.
Polanyi was the scientist/philosopher and epistemologist who debunked
the myth of scientific objectivism and placed subjective learning – that is
tacit learning – in its rightful place in Western thought (that is
centrally). Polanyi first time round
is hard going – maybe the hardest text that I have had to come to grips with
to date. I’m sure now, knowing where I
was meant to go, that a secondary reading would reveal a great deal
more. In fact for a considerable
period of time Polanyi served better as a physical
prop under my laptop than as a source of erudition; the answer to my question
within finger-tip range and used for such a base purpose instead. The concepts of subsidiary and focal
knowing come from Polanyi, and much of the argument for systems and
components of systems is also fully developed by him at that time.
was framed in the early 1950’s but not published until 1958, it predates the
work of Kuhn, and in places describes so exactly the nature of scientific
paradigm. And in doing so it provides
for me the answer to the question that I thought that I could answer; “how
come others don’t get this?” That
answer falls around Polanyi’s assertion that within any paradigm (using
Kuhn’s later terminology) the facts and beliefs are self-referential. Within a paradigm, everything, even
anomaly, can be explained.
who “don’t get this,” live within a local reductionist world that is based
upon their individual and personal experience. Each and every generation discovers (or
not) this for themselves. And it is
totally self-referential. This is the
epistemology that Bateson described as totemism, but the history of science
in general is full of this; alchemy, and solving the problems in the belief
system of alchemy
lead to chemistry, astrology, and solving the problems in the
belief system of astrology, lead to astronomy. Polanyi illustrates totemism and its
relationship to modern science beautifully using occult-poison of the
Zande. It has exact abductive
parallels in science, and our current industrial endeavors.
So, what was
missing, was my failure to recognize that the “other side” sees an
internally consistent and self-referential (essentially error-free)
interpretation of the “world” in which they operate. The issue is that “we” see their anomaly”
for what it is and can explain it more fully.
The skill is to make this transformation without causing damage to the
other people’s sense of identity.
I have tried
to explain this (and more) in the paradox of systemism – it is long and has
some important “side-bar” pages. It is
much better for having waited the better part of a year in order to be able
to do this. Nothing much was dropped
out, but a missing key was added in.
It is more than just the Theory of Constraints, but it is also exactly
the Theory of Constraints.
This Webpage Copyright © 2007-2010 by Dr K. J.