Operational excellence depends upon implementing best practices and, thereafter, systematically pursuing continuous improvement.
Goldratt's Theory of Constraints (TOC), as first presented in "The Goal", addresses both missions in a straightforward and extremely effective manner.
Just as a chain has only one weakest link, at a point in time, any system (business) has only one thing that constrains its performance. Attending to other than the weakest link cannot strengthen the chain; and attending to other than the system constraint cannot improve business performance.
TOC and its associated "Thinking Process" gives business leaders and managers the means to systematically identify their business constraint – i.e. to determine (not guess): What to change?; What to change to?; and How to effect that change?.
TOC disciplines not only deliver stair-step improvements in business performance, but also set the stage for continuous improvement. Addressing the system constraint, constructively (just like reinforcing the weakest link), may shift the constraint to another part of the system (a different link in the chain). Applying the same TOC Thinking Process will identify the new constraint and enable another stair-step improvement in business performance.
"The Goal" is one of "The 100 Best Business Books of All Time" and one of only eleven in the "Management" category, along with closely-related "Toyota Production System". There's a reason for that!
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