By: Henry F. Camp


Mankind’s problem is trying to nicely arrange individual pebbles, not perceiving them as parts of a boulder.

I think of LEAN, TPS, TQM and TOC as branches off the same tree.  Understanding their knowledge provides us perspectives from which we attempt to comprehend and deal with reality. If it works … good.   However, if you accept Eli Goldratt’s contention that, in every organization, the meta-constraint must be management’s attention, then it is logical to rely on TOC for global strategy, because it focuses on the very few things (read the thing) that are critical to improve the entire organization, not just some particular portion.  In other words, TOC produces the biggest improvements in return for the smallest investment in management’s scarce time.

LEAN, as I usually see it implemented, looks like many levers applied through different fulcrums to lift different parts of the same thing.  I don’t doubt that Taichi Ohno had the big picture in mind

when he sought flow in creating Toyota’s Production System, the progenitor of LEAN.  On the other hand, I do not see indications supporting a conclusion that approaches, other than TOC, are based so completely on the faith that organizations, beinginterrelated cohesive wholes, must, therefore, be inherently simple to improve.  Once we recognize that there is only one thing we are looking to lift, not only is a single fulcrum called for, using more than one fulcrum diminishes results.  As Archimedes said 250 years before Christ, “Give me a firm place to stand and a long enough lever and I can move the earth.”

The oneness can’t be seen with the eyes; we see separate things – clutter.  You must intellectualize it with all the cause and effect connections you know in your mind.  And, thinking is not popular, these days.  (Ever?)  I’ve read that the eyes are actually part of the brain.  Because the optic nerve is such a heavy neural cable it is the main way people perceive.  So, if we want the world to benefit from TOC faster and more easily, we must 1) make it more visual and 2) demonstrate that the people who properly utilize TOC are becoming the richest in terms of the goal units they seek.