The Forte Labs Blog

Dedicated to Exploring the Frontier of Modern Productivity

Theory of Constraints 103: The Four Fundamental Principles of Flow

A SERIES OF 5-MINUTE POSTS ON APPLYING PRINCIPLES OF FLOW TO KNOWLEDGE WORK
In the previous post, I described how many companies’ embrace of local optima leads to overwork and burnout for employees, and reduced throughput and profitability for the bottom line.

Before we look at what TOC proposes as a solution, we have to take a brief look at the history of flow, beginning with Henry Ford.

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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.

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Theory of Constraints 101: Applying the Principles of Flow to Knowledge Work

The Theory of Constraints is deceptively simple. It starts out proposing a series of “obvious” statements. Common sense really. And then before you know it, you find yourself questioning the fundamental tenets of modern business and society.

Eliyahu Goldratt laid out the theory in his 1984 best-selling book The Goal. It was an unusual book for its time — a “business novel” — telling the story of a factory manager in the post-industrial Midwest struggling with his plant.

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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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Emergent Productivity

By Tiago Forte of Forte Labs The history of employment can be summarized as “companies vs. employees.” This tug-of-war was always viewed as zero sum: any gain by labor was, by definition, a loss for management and shareholders, and vice versa. This mentality is captured in the saying: “Employees work just enough to not be…

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My interview on the Emerge Podcast

  Listen to my conversation with Daniel Thorson on the Emerge podcast: We spoke about using design thinking for individual improvement and empowerment, how to harness chaos and emergence for personal creativity, and the changing nature of knowledge work.

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A Review of Cal Newport’s Deep Work

This is my review of Cal Newport’s new book Deep Work (affiliate link), in which he makes the case that cultivating a capacity for intense concentration is the key competitive skill in the new knowledge economy. First, this is a well-written, thoughtful book with relevant stories and practical how-to’s for cultivating focus. I’m a fan…

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