Four Pillars of TOC! #BlogchatterAtoZ

This post is a part of A-Z Challenge for bloggers, that takes place every year in the month of April. Bloggers take part in this challenge for self-improvement and to overcome the “writer’s block”. Each one of us writes one article every day, starting from the alphabet ‘A’, right up to ‘Z’. My theme for this year’s challenge is – “Life Philosophies round the World”.

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What is TOC?

Theory of Constraints (TOC) is a management philosophy used to identify the limiting factor or constraint that stands in the way of achieving a goal, and then systematically working towards improving that constraint until it is no longer the limiting factor. This theory was introduced by Eliyahu M. Goldratt, an Israeli business management expert in 1984. Dr. Goldratt also founded Goldratt Consulting as part of The Goldratt Group in 2003, headquartered in Israel and represented in every continent.

According to the Theory of Constraints, there is always at least one weak link in a system that needs to be identified and worked upon in order to reach the best results, rather than working tirelessly trying to better all the links in the system. This applies to all processes, organizations and even an individual team member. Hence, TOC adopts the idiom “a chain is no stronger than its weakest link”.

The Four Pillars of TOC

Importance of the four Pillars of TOC in reaching our goal

Let’s learn about the four pillars of TOC in the reverse order, i.e., starting with a set goal in mind and moving towards the root causes that can affect or help us reach our goal.

Each one of us wishes to reach a full life (or a meaningful life, full of pleasures, building strengths and working for the greater good).

In order to have a full life, one needs to have enough meaningful successes.

To have gained enough successes, one has to:

  1. Have the stamina to get up after every failure. 
  2. Have enough opportunities to have the chance to succeed (or fail). 
  3. Be able to collaborate with people, since most of those successes aren’t going to come from independent efforts. 

Further, these three things (stamina, opportunities and collaboration) are all dependent on thinking clearly (not being clouded by false assumptions and half-truths).

In order to think clearly, one needs to overcome a set of common obstacles that we face. These common obstacles prevent us from thinking clearly, resulting in unnecessary conditions that keep us away from having a full life. Let’s look at these 4 obstacles. These are (obstacle —> correct perception):

1. The perception that reality is complex —> Every situation is simple.

This is the most profound perception that we need to overcome – that reality or things are complex. All we need to do is simply believe that everything is inherently simple! Once we believe this, we will willingly start looking forward to solve a problem and look for the root cause that is stopping us from reaching the goal.

2. Accepting conflicts as given —> Every conflict can be removed.

Second, we need to overcome the perception that conflicts are given and we have to compromise and survive with them. Wrong! Instead, we need to clarify the conflict, surface the underlying assumptions and challenge the wrong assumptions. And just like that, we’ll see the conflict being removed. Sounds magical, doesn’t it?

3. Blaming people for problems —> People are good. There is always a win-win solution.

Third and one of the very common obstacles we need to overcome is BLAMING! Irrespective of the amount of pleasure blaming brings with it, it does nothing but deflects us from our path to reaching our goal. If we are determined to solve a problem that involves other party, it’s best to avoid taking the path of blaming and engrave the perception deep within that ‘people are good’. Now, working with the other party to reach to a win-win solution becomes easier by manifolds.

4. Thinking that you know —> Every situation can be substantially improved.

The fourth obstacle we need to overcome is our tendency to think that we know it all. Once we are mindful of this and manage to considerably improve a situation that we thought we had already done everything possible, it will be easier to accept that every situation can be improved substantially. So, no matter what our starting point is, each one of us has the tendency to learn more and improve ourselves.

Hence, in order to reach our desired goal, all we need to do is make a choice. A choice to either stay in the vicious traps of incorrect perceptions or try and work through them by realizing the simple inherent truths.

These four principles or pillars of TOC can be applied in industries, processes or our real life problems to overcome them with simplicity and reach our ultimate goal of living a meaningful life.

Source Credits: ‘The Choice’ by Eliyahu Goldratt and Efrat Goldratt-Ashlag

You may read about other such mind and soul evoking philosophies here.

This post is part of #BlogchatterAtoZ challenge 2021.

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