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Theory of Constraints 107: Identifying the Constraint

A series of 5-minute posts on applying principles of flow to knowledge work In the previous post, I introduced the Five Focusing Steps, used to improve any system of value creation: Identify the constraint Optimize the constraint Subordinate the non-constraints Elevate the constraint Return to step 1 But what does it actually look like to

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Theory of Constraints 106: The Five Focusing Steps

A series of 5-minute posts on applying principles of flow to knowledge work In the previous post, I told the story of a software engineering team at Microsoft who used the Theory of Constraints to produce dramatic improvements in productivity. But I hope something bothered you: how exactly did they know which changes to make?

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Theory of Constraints 101: Table of Contents

A series of 5-minute posts on applying principles of flow to knowledge work Below you can find all the posts published so far, and a quick 3-point summary of each. 101: Introduction to the Series The basic premise of the Theory of Constraints as outlined in The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt; the definition of a bottleneck

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Theory of Constraints 105: Drum-Buffer-Rope at Microsoft

A series of 5-minute posts on applying principles of flow to knowledge work In the previous post, I explained Drum-Buffer-Rope (DBR), the original application of TOC to production environments like manufacturing. We’re now ready to take a closer look at a real-world example that brings together all the ideas we’ve covered in the series so

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Theory of Constraints 104: Balance Flow, Not Capacity

A series of 5-minute posts on applying principles of flow to knowledge work In the previous post, I told the story of how Eliyahu Goldratt proposed time as a new mechanism for limiting work-in-process, using a new method he designed called Drum-Buffer-Rope (DBR). Let’s examine how DBR proposes to fix the situation we left at

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Theory of Constraints 102: The Illusion of Local Optima

A series of 5-minute posts on applying principles of flow to knowledge work In the previous post, I argued that many people unknowingly subscribe to a defunct management philosophy: that you can improve the performance of a company as a whole by individually improving the performance of its parts. These isolated improvements are known as

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Meta-Skills, Macro-Laws, and the Power of Constraints

Nearly every science-fiction novel seems to agree on one thing: in the future, work will be indistinguishable from art. Such wide agreement suggests that work is far more than a means of income generation. Even in a robot servant utopia, with all our practical needs taken care of, human work will still have a purpose.

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Experimental Habit Formation

A new framework for continuous learning One of the key challenges of living and working in the future will be continuous learning and experimentation. I’d like to propose a framework for this type of learning that is both feasible and focused on the individual: experimental habit formation. I believe it can help resolve one of

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The Holy Grail of Self-Improvement

By Tiago Forte The holy grail of self-improvement is a framework for self-directed experimentation and learning that can be used by the average person. The key question such a framework would have to answer is “How do people change?” In this post, I will suggest possible answers to this question by looking at the recent

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Immersion. Experimentation. Leverage.

A thesis on software eating the world This is an unauthorized summary of the 30,000-word blog series Breaking Smart, by Venkatesh Rao of ribbonfarm, which I believe to be among the most important writing in recent years on innovation, productivity, and problem solving. The series attempts to answer the question “What exactly does it mean to

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