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TOCICO Conference 2015

Transforming Industries Track

Russ Johnson
Associate Professor
Washington State University

Transforming our Assumptions about Managing Systems and Resources via Simple Games and Exercises (Workshop)
September 9, 2015

This workshop will employ several games to help the participants gain a hands-on understanding of what happens in our systems that consumes much of the capacity we thought the system had. Participants will uncover how variability and dependency make it virtually impossible for systems to deliver target outputs. They will learn what is meant by "bad” multi-tasking and how it plagues the project world causing errors and rework, longer than expected lead-times and cost overruns to name a few. The exercises apply to any environment where work flows from one resource to another whether the resources are dedicated or shared. The learning opportunities apply to organizations private or public, large or small. Each exercise confirms one or more realities that we suffer from in our organizations and will be followed-up with a review of the implications these realities have on us and our stakeholders. Participants will walk away with several simple tactics they can implement to slay their capacity eating monsters.

All of the games utilize items that are easily acquired such as dice, cards, paper, Legos, etc. They are simple to set-up and run and offer multiple levels of learning and discovery opportunities. Participants will play:

  • A variation of "The Dice Game” from "The Goal” to experience the effects of variability and dependent events
  • The "Job Shop Game” to learn how releasing work according to the capacity of the constraint can reveal significant hidden capacity and greatly improve system lead-time and on-time performance.
  • The "Sixes Game” to learn that the world is not made up of a normal distribution but is skewed and how this impacts worker performance and future time estimates. This will be modified with the "Sixes A-Team Game” to show how having a small dedicated support team can chop the tail off of difficult project task times and therefor overall project time.
  • Two different Multi-tasking games (time permitting) to learn how focusing on getting things started versus getting them done kills project performance (two versions to provide two different approaches and the ability emphasize some project environment characteristics).
  • The "DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) Game” to demonstrate the importance of prioritizing work as it flows through a system.

Each activity will be followed with a discussion about how the realities exposed impact our systems and, not only consume valuable capacity, but also often lead to destructive behaviors that create disharmony in the workplace and with our suppliers and customers. The workshop will conclude with simple actions we can take to use our newfound understanding to slay the capacity eating monsters and create the opportunity for harmony in our organizations.

RUSS JOHNSON has been teaching and implementing Theory of Constraints, Lean and Six-Sigma/Quality Management tools and concepts at the university level for many years. During that time he also worked in conjunction with the Iowa Small Business Development Center and Colorado’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership to bring these concepts to more than 100 companies via student centered projects and direct consulting.

He has many published articles and professional association presentations on supply chain management, project management, Quality systems/Six-Sigma, lean production and Rapid prototyping/rapid tooling. Dr. Johnson is certified in the TOC Operations (Drum-Buffer-Rope) and Supply Chain (Replenishment) Management and TOC Critical Chain Project Management applications by the TOCICO. Dr. Johnson is also an active member of several professional organizations including ASQ, APICS, SME, and TOCICO.

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