Theory of Constraints @ XP Day Benelux
Rob Westgeest and I ran the I’m not a Bottleneck! I’m a free man! session at XP Days Benelux 2005. I ran this session with Marc Evers at the XP2005 conference before. You can read more about that session on my site.
The first part of the session is a simulation of a production line, where participants have to fold and decorate hats and boats. The picture on the left shows the participants re-running the simulation after “elevating the constraint” by adding another person (Nathalie on the left) to help Vincent, who was the bottleneck in the first round. This had the effect of increasing the team’s output. Some of that increase can also be attributed to the fact that by the second simulation, the participants have more practice.
Elevating the constraint also had the effect of shifting the bottleneck away from folding the boats and hats, towards the next step: decorating hats and boats. That’s quite likely if you perform a large intervention like elevating the constraint by doubling the manpower.
In the second part of the session the participants, newly graduated “Theory of Constraints consultants”, had to solve some real-world problems. Erik, Marko and Nathalie acted as customers. The others played consultants who tried to help their customers by discovering the system, the goal and the bottleneck and applying the “5 focusing steps“.
What amazes me is that each time we ran this session, participants were able to understand their customer’s situation and propose 3 possible optimizations. Within less than an hour! And after only one hour of schooling. If you want to optimize your process, hire these people!
That tells me that the 5 focusing steps are both easy to understand and apply. These steps might look trivial, but they give you focus. And these steps are not as easy as they sound. Just try to find out what the goal of your organisation is…
We’ll be hosting this session at the XP Days London 2005 conference, next Monday. If you want to improve your process, join us there.