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There is an old saw that most people believe: “People hate change.”


When I am trying to help companies consider paths to ongoing improvement, I frequently challenge the management team’s adherence to the belief in this seemingly axiomatic presumption.


“People do not hate change,” I will opine.


This statement is variously met with smiles, snickers, rolling eyes and similar signals of disbelief.


So, many times, the conversation will proceed something along these lines:


“By show of hands, how many in this room are married?”


Usually, several—generally, almost all—hands go up.


My next question: “So, was getting married a major change for you?”


Heads nod, “Yes.” Smirks all around show their agreement.


My third question: “Tell me: for all of you who got married, how many of you can tell me you really ‘hated’ that impending change?”


Nearly all shake their heads, “No,” accompanied by grins.


Then, on only one occasion, someone said to me, “That’s not a good example. Let’s move on.”



Okay. Let’s move on.


There are, quite literally, hundreds of other examples that might be raised to affirm that people do not, in fact, “hate change.”


If people hated change, for example, we might expect the following changes in behavior:

  • People would never say, “I’m tired of this.”
  • People would not (voluntarily) go shopping for a new car.
  • People would wear the same things, day after day.
  • People would never (voluntarily) go looking for a new job.
  • People would tend to eat the same foods day after day.
  • People would avoid growth—because any kind of growth is change.
  • People would avoid improvements—because any kind of improvement requires change.
  • People would not make New Year’s resolutions about what they want to change in the coming year.

Are there those who truly “hate change”?


Yes, there probably are.


Writing at LinkedIn, Mickey Granot says that he believes real resistance to change “exists in two cases only:


  1. For a very small portion of the population, you might call social sociopaths, it is in their nature.

  2. In social systems (like companies) when the accumulated experience with previous changes is very negative.”

This is a point worth considering: what is “the accumulated experience with previous changes” at your company, or in the supply chain, where you manage?


Is it possible that so much change effort and so few positive results from the effort has produced negativity about change?


What do you think?


We would like to hear from you. Leave your comments below.



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Traditionally, the New Year period has been a time for reassessment and for setting new and ambitious goals for the coming year. So, have you set any ambitious goals for improvement in your enterprise and / or your supply chain?


The best laid plans of mice and men

Despite our best intentions, both hard research and anecdotal evidence tell us that more than 90 percent of our improvement goals are never achieved. So, it is likely that next year—about this same time—you will be setting some of the very same goals you are contemplating even as you read this today.


Of course, if you are like me—and I suspect that at least some of you are—from a personal perspective, you have failed so many times to follow through on so-called “New Year’s Resolutions,” that you don’t even bother to make them any longer. Or, if you make them, you make them only half-heartedly.


But, what about your business and your supply chain?


Can you really afford to just give up on ever seeing significant, long-lasting improvement to your operations?


Do you really feel that you have no alternative but to surrender to forces beyond your reach to affect or beyond your power to, perhaps, even fully comprehend? Do you really believe that your business is in the hands of fate, and the best you can do is keep up the valiant effort to “survive”?


I hope not!


Your most precious resources

As a manager or executive, your most precious resources are TIME, ENERGY and ATTENTION.


If you are like a good many managers and executives we meet on a regular basis, far more than half your TIME, ENERGY and ATTENTIONS are presently consumed in the day-to-day efforts required to put out fires. Only the “left-over” time, energy and attention can be applied to even thinking about improvement.


Then, of course, there remains the fact that it seems like you’ve already tried all the things that should help you improve, gain fresh traction in your market, and improve the bottom line. But, the efforts frequently seem to be in vain. Improvements are generally small—despite huge efforts, at times—and they are almost never long-lasting. It seems as though all of your precious TIME, ENERGY and ATTENTIONS are consumed for little or no gain—even when you try to focus on improvement.


Nevertheless, you faithfully get out of your bed every morning and come into your office to put forth another valiant effort against your unseen and, seemingly, incomprehensible foe.


Three most basic questions

There are only three things that every manager and executive need to know. Yet, despite your years of experience, your training, your intelligence, your keen staff, you seem unable to narrow down the precise answers to these questions in order to achieve long-lasting and ongoing improvement:


  1. What needs to change so that we can make more money tomorrow than we are making today?
  2. What should the change look like in order to be effective?
  3. How do we go about making this change in our organization or supply chain?


It turns out, there is a tool set to help you and your management team quickly answer these basic—and, essential—questions. That tool set is called the Theory of Constraints’ Thinking Processes. These tools help you and your team take five critical steps toward achieving long-lasting improvements and increasing profits. Those five steps are these:


  1. Clarify your GOAL and decide what needs to improve. Equally important for focus is to be very clear on what not to improve—what not to spend your time, energy and attentions on.
  2. List and logically validate all of the what, how and why assumptions about your GOAL and what needs to improve. Here the Thinking Processes help lay out these validations in a logic-based format with boundaries that help eliminate bad thinking and company politics.
  3. Develop an ambitious plan for change that includes buffers and clear metrics. The buffers are to allow for “Murphy,” who is bound to show up sometime, and the metrics help assure that your underlying assumptions were and are correct as you move forward in your improvement process.
  4. Begin implementing one step at a time. This is the essence of “focus.” Don’t diffuse your focus by trying to make too many changes at the same time.
  5. Review progress frequently for rapid feedback, resolve conflicts as they arise, and go back to step 1 after a cycle to that inertia doesn’t set in. Returning to step 1 makes this a POOGI—a process of on-going improvement—not just a one-time event.


If you need help getting started, let us know. Let's git ‘er done!


Also, leave your comments below about how you and your company stay on track producing sustainable and effective improvements in your operations and supply chain. We look forward to hearing from you.


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QUOTE We Cannot Solve - Einstein.jpg

While working with our clients, we frequently discover that they are chasing the same undesirable effects around their enterprises and across their supply chains again and again. We know this, because they freely admit that they find themselves putting out the same fires again and again.


So, the goal of this article is—hopefully—to get some folks to reconsider their thinking as we take on the challenges of a brand new year.


What we think today has created our current reality


I am not sure why, but executives and managers frequently believe that the world in which they live and work in the daily operation of the business and supply chain has been created by forces entirely beyond their control.


This, of course, cannot be the case. For, if it were, it would be impossible for two companies in the same industry to produce so vastly different results.

If forces beyond management’s control shaped the outcomes (read: profits and results) of a business, then it would be utterly impossible for a company in Oregon, for example, to simply change the way it managed inventory, production and its supply chain and end up with results like these:


    • Increase in sales – 20%
    • Customer fill rate – improved from 79% to 99.6%
    • Inventory reduction – 60%
    • Order lead time reduction – 60%
    • On-time delivery – improved to 100%
    • Reduction in inventory – 20%
    • Stock-outs on raw materials – ZERO
    • Inventory reduction > $2.5 million


Of course, to change the way it managed inventory, production and its supply chain first required that this company change the way it thought about managing its inventory, production and supply chain. If it had continued to use the same thinking, it would not have changed the way it managed.


This seems like an indisputable axiom, yet many, many companies—perhaps, yours is one—continue to repeat applying the same methods over and over, somehow expecting to obtain different results. This, of course, is one of the definitions of insanity.


Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, while expecting different results.


No need to change


As W. Edwards Deming proclaimed, “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”


There are plenty of businesses that have failed over the years. A great many of them have blamed “circumstances beyond our control”—at least in their minds, if not publicly.

Survival is not mandatory.


But, if what managers and executives have been doing for in efforts to “improve” over the last two, three, five or ten years—or, perhaps even longer—has proven to be only marginally effective, perhaps it is time to consider thinking in a new way.


It is not enough to do your best. You must know what to do, and then do your best. – W. Edwards Deming


The really big problems


The big problems are where people don’t realize they have a problem in the first place. – W. Edwards Deming


Chances are, if executives and managers in your business are convinced that they are wrestling with “circumstances beyond their control,” you may not realize that you, your company and your supply chain has a problem. You might have several problems and not be fully aware.


Rational behavior requires theory. Reactive behavior requires only reflex action. – W. Edwards Deming


Our observation is that, when we first meet many clients, their inventory, production and supply chains are managed only semi-rationally. That is to say: they have no settled theory that they can articulate about how inventory levels are set, managed, adjusted. They have no settled theory that drives priorities for production, either. In fact, when they find themselves in a jam, different members of their management team may not even be able to agree on exactly what the production priorities should be to make the most money. Should the priorities be based on costs analyses? Sales figures? Customer satisfaction? Efficiencies?


From time to time, they may use any one of these priorities, but there is not even any settled theory about when and in which circumstances these various priorities should be applied.

Too much happens as “reactive behavior” driven by “reflex actions” driven by in-the-moment exigencies. That is reactive, not rational, and it leads frequently to merely compounding the amount of firefighting that must be done next week or next month.


Am I right? Does this describe your experience?


If so, we would like to hear about your experiences and what you’ve done to try new ways of thinking about the challenges you face. Leave your comments below.


Here’s to your successful new thinking in 2016!


We have the new thinking tools, if you’ve got the desire to change and improve. Wouldn’t you like to liberate more than $2.5 million in cash from your inventory while growing your business by 20 percent, like that Oregon company?


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