The Theory of Constraints

The Theory of Constraints (TOC) is an operational management approach developed by Dr. Eliyahu M. Goldratt and introduced in 1984. It was designed around the idea that complex systems are inherently simple and can tie all of the troubles they experience down to a single root conflict. For his approach Dr. Goldratt maintained that the three primary metrics of a business are throughput, operational expense, and inventory.

TOC addresses change and does so by answering three questions

  • what to change
  • what to change to
  • how to cause the change.

Dr. Goldratt created a series of tools to aid in answering these questions. Notable tools include

  1. The five focusing steps
  2. Conflict clouds
  3. The Thinking Process
  4. Drum Buffer Rope (DBR)
  5. Strategy and Tactic tree
  6. Viable Vision.

The latest developments in TOC offer holistic solutions and touch on such areas as project management, accounting, supply chain and the sales process.

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