What Is Theory of Constraints (TOC)?

TOC is a continuous improvement technique aimed at solving problems which are normally 'flow' problems in a business process, where a constraint exists.  By 'flow' problems, I mean the ability of the process to produce a desired volume of outputs.

In any real process there exists constraints.  A constraint is simply the one process element which limits the abilty of the system to produce as fast as we would like.  TOC practitioners claim that no matter how complex your process is, there is  normally only ONE constraint.

So why do we need a special technique to handle these situations?   If one person is the constraint becasue they are too slow for instance, why not simply train them to get faster?  Or add another person?  Or replace them with someone who can work faster?  Well in many instances the constraint can not be dealt with so easily.  If there are not trivial solutions like the ones I just mentioned, TOC shows us how to operate the business with the constraint there and maximize what we can get out of it.  The rules to do this are normally counter-intuitive to how organizations normally operate.  In other words, they are the opposite of what your instincts tell you to do.  This is why the technique needs to be studied and understood to be effectively used.

The process improvement professional of the future will need to have a good working knowledge of Six Sigma, Lean, and TOC and be an expert in at least one of them.

Value-Train does not currently offer dedicated TOC training or certification.  It's specialized enough that given our high quality, low cost model, there is not enough demand for it.  We may do so in the future but we do discuss it in our other courses.