Kaizen and Theory of Constraints
I got a question from a reader and Theory of Constraints fan:
“One of the topics that I'm struggling with is the relationship between Kaizen and TOC. When Norman Bodek talks about the savings people have gotten through Kaizen, does he actually get measurable increase in throughput?
I'm tempted to implement his ideas, but wonder if they are going to make an impact if they are not addressing the current constraint in the system.”
I won't try to answer on Norman's behalf, but these are my thoughts.
I'm sure there have been situations where his “quick and easy kaizen” method have been used to tackle throughput problems.
One thing I always focus on, with Lean, is solving the right problem, not just implementing Lean tools. For example, I'm working with a hospital's radiology department, where MRI throughput and capacity is the most pressing issue. So, almost everything we're working on is in the name of breaking that constraint. We're not calling it TOC, but (in my mind) the influence is there.
So, I think the best answer is that you certainly can try using Norman's methods to engage employees in how to improve throughput. I don't see why there would be any conflict. Now, it throughput increases are going to lead to job loss, then that method won't work. Management has to make the usual Lean commitment to not have Lean lead to layoffs (have to try to grow your way out of that problem).
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