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Sustainability: Moving from Common Sense to Common Practice
2016 International Conference
Leesburg, VA - National Conference Center

September 18th - 21st

The Evolution and Practical Application of a Simplified TOC Thinking Process -  the Change Matrix Cloud Method - Workshop

Dr. Alan Barnard - CEO, Goldratt Research Labs (USA)

The work of managers, of scientists, of engineers, of consultants - the work that steers the course of organizations and determines their success – is, according to Nobel Laureate, Herbert Simon, largely work of making decisions and solving problems. It is work of choosing the problems or opportunities that require attention, setting goals, finding or designing suitable strategies, and evaluating and choosing among alternative tactics. The first three of these activities – identifying which issues to focus on, setting goals, and designing strategies - are usually called problem solving; the last, evaluating and choosing, is usually called decision making.

Nothing is more important for the well-being of individuals, organizations and society than that this work be performed more effectively and efficiently than in the past; that we address successfully the many problems requiring attention at national level (budget and trade deficits, national security, poverty, health system failure), at the level of business organizations (low returns to shareholders on investments, no decisive competitive advantage, fragility, disharmony, low productivity), and at the level of our individual lives (choosing a career or life partner, dealing with stress and inter-personal conflicts, making good health choices).

As such, there should be no important target for the TOC Community of practitioners, implementers, educators and academics, than further developing and applying the Theory of Constraints methods, thinking processes and principles to help individuals and organizations identify the most important problems to focus their limited attention and other scarce resources on, and to make better and faster decisions on how to best solve these problems and sustain the successes achieved.

Dr. Eli Goldratt said that if we want to make a breakthrough in any field we are passionate about, we simply need to follow two steps. Step 1 is to have the courage to face inconsistencies – gaps between our expectations and reality. Step 2 is to be willing to challenge basic assumptions related to this inconsistency or expectation gap. Were the assumptions on which our expectations were based simply too high (or too low). Or were the assumptions on which our actions were based to realize these expectations not helpful but harmful?

Can we apply these two simple steps on TOC itself?

What is the inconsistency we should face?

Considering the increased need for and recognition of the need for better problem solving and better decision making skills and methods within organizations and in society at large, surely the Theory of Constraints Thinking Processes should be the ideal solution to meet this challenge and should see an increased level of adoption and application?

Yet, in reality, this is not the case. After more than 20 years since its original development, the adoption of the TOC thinking processes, even in organizations that have successfully implemented other TOC solutions, has been very poor. It is not recognized in most of the academic research on problem solving and decision making methods and even TOC experts use it mainly as a communications tool rather than tools for achieving real breakthroughs in problem solving and/or decision-making.

What assumptions should be challenged related to this inconsistency in both the very low adoption rate and/or the low success rate in using it, not just as a communications tool, but for solving new problems and/or making better faster decisions?

Were our expectations simply too high? Surely, after more than 20 years, if the TOC TP was a more effective and efficient way for problem solving and decision making, it should have seen a much higher adoption rate and/or success rate, especially with those that have been trained on using it?

Could it be that the main assumptions on which the TOC TP tools are based, are flawed?

For a new problem solving or decision making method to be adopted, it has to be relatively simple and fast to understand and use and deliver real breakthroughs most of the times it is being used. Are these assumptions true for the TOC TP? Even experienced TOC experts will agree that the TOC TP tools can be perceived as complicated, takes a long time and lots of practice and discipline to master and, despite being great communication tools, frequently do not generate breakthroughs or new insights for those using it.

For the TOC TP to achieve a much higher level of adoption and much higher success rate to generate new insights in problem solving and decision making, it has to be significantly simplified and improved to focus them on solving the most common mistakes made in problem solving and decision making.

Starting in 2001, this was the ambitious target of the author in the development of the Simplified Thinking Processes. The outcome of the almost 15 years of R&D is a new process called the Change Matrix Cloud (CMC) method. It contains 5 steps, each designed to overcome the 5 most common mistakes made when in problem solving and decision making.

This 4 hour TOC Expert Workshop will provide attendees the opportunity to:

a) Gain a deep understanding of the evolution of this CMC method from the original TP in a way that maintains the benefits while addressing the limitations of the TOC TP tools like the Evaporating Cloud, Communications CRT and Change Matrix.

b) See how the 5-step CMC process can be applied using three real-life case studies (private sector example, public sector example and personal problem)

c) Apply the full five step process of the Change Matrix Cloud on any problem or expectation gap they are currently experiencing at work or within their personal lives.

Dr. Alan Barnard (PhD) is one of the leading experts in the world in the field of Theory of Constraints (TOC) and frequently worked with Dr. Eli Goldratt, creator of Theory of Constraints on large and complex projects around the world. Alan is the CEO of Goldratt Research Labs (USA), Chairman of African Phosphate (RSA) and The Odyssey Institute (USA).

Alan’s goal in life is to use his 20+ years TOC research, consulting and implementation knowledge & experience to help both organizations from the private and public sector as well as individuals see and unlock their inherent potential.

In 2009, Alan was awarded a PhD in the Management of Technology & Innovation from the Da Vinci Institute with a thesis titled "How to identify and unlock inherent potential within organizations and individuals using a Systems Approach”.

Alan is certified by the "Theory of Constraints International Certification Organization” (TOCICO) at the "implementer” level in all Theory of Constraints (TOC) applications (Operations, Finance, Projects, Supply Chain, Thinking Processes and Holistic Business Strategy). Alan received the Life-time Achievement award from TOCICO in 2006 for his life-time contribution to TOC and TOCICO.

Alan is also author of various published TOC related papers & articles and contributed two chapters to the 2010 McGraw Hill published "Theory of Constraints Handbook” and was a contributing author of for Gerald Kendall’s book "Viable Vision: Transforming Total Sales into Net Profits” (Ross Publishing, 2004).

Alan is a former president of SAPICS (2000 to 2002) and former president of TOCICO (2003 to 2005) and received the TOCICO Lifetime Achievement award in 2006. He has worked at a strategy level with companies such as ABB, BHP Billiton, African Explosives, Cisco, SAP, Random House Publishing, Tata Steel, RAK Ceramics, and Larsen & Toubro in the Private sector and in the Public sector with the UN DP, the UN WFP, Utah State Government and City Councils in Developing countries to help them identify and unlock inherent potential through the application of Theory of Constraints.

Alan is also the developer of the HARMONY Strategy & Tactic Desktop, Web App and iPhone App software suite that was nominated for the Silicon Valley Business App Awards in 2013.

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