From an entry I made in the now-defunct discussion forums on this site to Bill Amaya topic on “What is our CCR?”
Hey Bill, it’s great to hear your voice again in here
Reading where you said:”The challenge and my dilemma comes when I take a broader look at my company and try to find the one thing that is setting the pace or pinching the cash flow. In fact, I am having a hard time even categorizing what to look at.” Just clobbered me with a lesson that maybe I’ve always subconsciously known but didn’t really understand the significance or power of until this year.
As I think I told you I lucked out and managed to get a consulting gig working with another company in another industry (aerospace) on “business process improvement” that I took as an opportunity to see if what I knew and was learning about TOC would work for others. What clobbered me was that working on another company’s problems and processes helped me see my own companies’ processes in a whole new light. Instead of seeing my own companies’ just from the inside-out position I was now seeing things from the outside in that I hadn’t ever seen before.
What might work for you (and perhaps anyone) in terms of really developing your TOC techniques and tools is for you to find another different kind of company and work with them to help them understand their processes better and then in the spirit of quid pro quo have the leader of that company work with you on yours. That way you both get the benefit of having a detached third party looking critically at your operation and you’ll perhaps start to find that you can shift your own thinking and point of view back and forth from insider to outsider at times too.
I think there is a tendency when we are working within our own company’s to zero in problems or hunches that we have just developed a prejudice about (regardless of whether it a positive or negative prejudice). You can’t and shouldn’t ignore those hunches but you have to be very careful that you don’t become infatuated with them too.
“Our niche is to provide fabrication as well as installation of all of the architectural woodwork that is just to difficult for the on-site carpenters to perform and the cabinet shops don’t want to or simply can’t.” Great description! Gee, I wonder where I’ve heard that description and thinking before too… I don’t think it fluffy thinking at all.
“Some days I think that if we offered just one or two services our processes would be fewer in number and therefore the CCR would float to the top. But we just do not do the same thing over and over.” Okay, this is where I think I’ve found something I think you’ll appreciate. Last winter, right at the time when I was just starting that consulting gig I mentioned, I was googling looking for an article I had read somewhere on some TOC related website about what was called “The Fire House Solution“. It was in that search that I found another document on TOC that also made mention of the firehouse analogy in talking about DBR and TOC.
Eight days ago I made a blog post regarding Theory of Constraints and Lean Thinking as it related to shipbuilding mentioning a document that I had just discovered and Jason e-mailed me regarding what I wrote there saying “The shipyard link wasn’t bad, but it didn’t really say anything. Did I miss something, or were you simply trying to show the fellas the successful application of TOC?” and I started to write another blog post saying yeah that was an interesting but not earthshaking article but if you want to read something great you have to read Implementing Theory of Constraints In A Job Shop Environment by John Tagawa.
Discovering that document ( it was this fellow John Tagawa’s Masters or Ph.D. thesis at MIT) was like discovering the Rosetta Stone for me. Not only was it about “Implementing Theory of Constraints In A Job Shop Environment” it was about Implementing TOC In A Job Shop Environment at BOEING AIRCRAFT! And my new client was was an aerospace JOB SHOP! Prior to this year I don’t even recall ever hearing the term “Job Shop” before but now all of a sudden I was working with one and I also realized that was exactly what my company ParadigmProjects was too!
The entry for Job Shop from The Building & Remodeling Business & Project Management Wiki:
Job Shop – A plant or shop floor given over to the manufacture of individual works orders, usually on a once-off basis. All work undertaken in the job shop is thus unique, or, at least, is individually undertaken. Many products in the job shop will have been specially designed and will thus have unique product routes. The length of time of manufacture in a job shop is typically days or weeks rather than hours. Repetitive or batch manufacture is not associated with work undertaken in the job shop.
Anyway finding reading and learning from Tagawas paper has been huge for me this year. Yeah, Jason the only reason I brought up that shipbuilding article in my blog was because it related to that old JLC discussion but this paper was HUGE for me. I printed it out, all 96 pages, and even bound it up to make it easier to reference and read. I’ll be very interested to hear what you fellows think of it. The link to it doesn’t always work so if you can’t download it e-mail me and I’ll send you the PDF directly.