Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Using TOC in Healthcare

Based upon the preliminary results of Bruce Nelson and my new book, The Critical Methodology for Theory of Constraints, Lean and Six Sigma (TLS), the interest level for using TOC in the healthcare field seems to be quite high.  I had over 100 requests for a free copy of Epiphanized and they're still coming.  For those of you who don't know, our new book was released yesterday and it looks to be doing very well, so Bruce and I thank you.

This morning, I woke up to find an absolutely wonderful article written by James Cox III, PhD, Timothy M. Robinson, MD and Wendy Maxwell.  The title of the article is, Applying "Theory of Constraints" to Solve Your Practice's Most Vexing Problem.  It's an article about how basic TOC was used to improve a medical practice significantly and cited one example of taking one medical practice from break even to + $3.5 million per year without spending much money at all.  Here is a link to this article and I encourage everyone to read it:

Bob Sproull

Sunday, December 13, 2015

An Update on Our New Book

Yesterday I received a request to post something about our new book, Focus and Leverage: The Critical Methodology for Theory of Constraints, Lean and Six Sigma (TLS).  So in today’s post I will do just that.  I might add that Bruce Nelson was the lead on this book and in my opinion, Bruce did an outstanding job of putting this book together.

This book is written as a sequel to the second edition, Epiphanized: Unifying the Theory of Constraints, Lean and Six-Sigma. This story focuses on the continuing adventures of Connor Jackson, Joe Pecci, Sam Henderson, and Becky Chen (Jackson). In the sequel these characters apply their common sense approach and knowledge of problem solving and process improvement by getting involved in two new industries. First, is a company named Aviation Dynamics. They are a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility. The company is suffering from poor on-time due date performance, and a new backlog of work that is putting extreme pressure on management and the employees. Because of their bad performance they are fearful of losing some of the new work, which is up for contract renewal. Because of the past performance some customers aren’t happy. Second, some of the characters get involved with Saint Luke’s hospital after a less than perfect visit to the ER. The team presents a strategy to help the hospital reduce and manage the ever increasing wait times for hospital services, especially in the hospital emergency room.

To quote Bruce, from our Preface, “While you might think that these two industries are at opposite ends of the spectrum, both are plagued by the same types of common problems.  Both have significant wait time problems defined by delayed completion of services and delivery of products, and both are hearing very negative comments from their customers.  These problems are all due in part to their inability to analyze the system and figure out what to change.  Both have “outdated thinking and ideas” about systems management and flow.  Both have previously applied the methods and concepts from Lean and Six Sigma, but have had very little sustained improvement to show for their efforts.  When they are exposed to the TLS methodology, good things start to happen at both organizations.”

“We hope, with this book, we are able to show the reader the necessary systems thinking best suited to find and analyze what the system issues really are and the consequences to the system for not resolving those issues. In the sequel, we have expanded on two concepts first introduced in the appendix section, second edition of Epiphanized. The first concept is the discussion and application of the Interference Diagram (ID) and Intermediate Objective (IO) Simplified Strategy, or ID/IO Simplified Strategy. The ID/IO Simplified Strategy is a product of combining several TOC thinking process tools into a single thinking tool. The ID/IO is a comprehensive and combined approach used to discover and analyze prevalent system issues and in doing so, much less time is required to achieve the desired results. The second concept is the inclusion, discussion and application for the Multiple-Drum-Buffer-Rope (M-DBR) concept and how it applies to both of these industry systems. Also, in the sequel we introduce the reader to the TLS methodology cycles. The first cycle discusses which steps to take. The second cycle discusses how to take those steps. And, the third cycles describes what the expected results should be.”

“We wish you, the reader, an enhanced understanding and success on your continuous improvement journey. We truly believe that if you follow the guidelines and methods we have laid out, your journey will be much easier and hopefully, more profitable.”

We also have included a piece on how the hospital improvement team, with Connor’s guidance was able to significantly reduce one of the key metrics in hospitals today, Door to Balloon Time.  This metric is associated with stemi-type heart attacks where time is of the essence.  We all know about how difficult wait times are in hospitals, so we’ve given the readers a glimpse of how to reduce them.

That’s a summary of some of the things we have presented in this book and we’re both very excited about how it will be received, especially by our healthcare readers.  If you have friends who work in either the healthcare field or the MRO industry, we would very much appreciate it if you would let them know about our book.

Happy Holidays from Bruce and me,

Bob Sproull

Thursday, December 10, 2015

New Book Announcement: A Sequel to Epiphanized

Bruce Nelson and I are proud to announce the upcoming release of our long-awaited sequel to Epiphanized – Unifying Theory of Constraints, Lean and Six Sigma, 2nd Edition. The book is scheduled to be released on December 13th and we are both excited about it.  The title is: Focus and Leverage: The Critical Methodology for Theory of Constraints, Lean and Six Sigma (TLS).

The primary characters remain the same, but this time the storyline features two different industries: Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) and Healthcare (hospital) environments. 
This book expands and highlights the two improvement methods first introduced in the appendix section of Epiphanized: the Interference Diagram (ID)/Intermediate Objectives (IO) map (ID/IO Simplified Strategy) and Multiple-Drum-Buffer-Rope (M-DBR).

Both of these innovative methods are the result of some much-focused thinking that allows for multiple improvement methods, and steps, to be combined into a single thinking process tool. This groundbreaking new method is designed to save time and money and allows faster and better results to be achieved.

The two storylines move the reader through the necessary system analysis, problem identification, and solution implementation. The novel format aids in presenting several realistic situational discussions as well as a multitude of graphs and figures to explain the step-by-step process for success.  The storyline of this book weaves some well-known and some not-so-well-known thinking tools into the problem-solving sphere to provide you with an understanding of how to first discover and then overcome issues not readily known or expected at the start of any project.

Bruce and I sent our book to several well-respected improvement experts to get their take on our new book and here is what they had to say in their Editorial Reviews:

"This book, Focus and Leverage, discusses the powerful results that can be obtained when observing and analyzing a business from a holistic, systemic point of view, and then explains how Lean-Six Sigma initiatives are substantially improved with the system focusing mechanism, provided by Theory of Constraints (TOC). ... This book defines two very practical and robust applications that I consider the most powerful planning tool available today: the Interference Diagram (ID) combined with the Intermediate Objective (IO) map, or the ID/IO simplified strategy concept. ... In the book, Bruce Nelson and Bob Sproull use the business situation from two seemingly different business environments, and yet illustrate the commonality between the two. First is the situation from a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility, and second is the situation of a Hospital Emergency Room. Using this innovative method they show how significant leaps in business performance can be obtained in a very short period of time.

This book also introduces an interesting and innovative concept for system planning and scheduling. It is a scheduling concept that the authors refer to as M-DBR (Multiple-Drum-Buffer-Rope), which is a valid refinement of the traditional DBR proposed by TOC."
―David Poveda, M.A.Sc., CDDP Instructor; Owner & Director, FLOWING Consultoria

"Wow… what a great book and sequel to Epiphanized. A detailed, step-by-step guide to problem solving in any industry, not only covering the technical problems a company may face while running an improvement project and the mechanics of improvement, but also detailing the human and cultural changes a company will need to address when undertaking the journey to improvement. I was there… while reading the book, I felt as though you put me in the story working side by side with Conner, Sam and Joe as they took Aviation Dynamics and Saint Luke’s from near failure to success. I especially liked seeing this book written from Conner's perspective and seeing his genius come out in the story while guiding Sam, Joe and their clients to succeed in their efforts. Bottom line is that this is a great how-to book with a fantastic real life story line."
―Mark Rader, Lean Six Sigma Master Blackbelt

"Some authors write revolutionary business management books that question industry practices and propose a truly different new and convincing approach. That is true of Bruce Nelson and Bob Sproull’s books. Some books are so enticing that you are torn between finishing the book and starting to apply the ideas it presents. This is such a book. ... The authors are passionate and experienced ‘changers’ or ‘improvers.’ You will sense this throughout the novel. ... I have been mixing Lean, TOC, and Six Sigma together for more than 25 years. I know it works; it works well. Don’t just buy this book … read it, think about it, adapt it to your context, and try to apply at least some of it."
―Philip Marris, CEO Marris Consulting, Paris, France, Founder and Administrator of the LinkedIn "TLS―TOC, Lean & Six Sigma" Group

For those of you who don’t know us, here is a brief summary of who we are.  Bruce took the lead on this book and worked his magic to create a very, very good book.

Bruce Nelson is an independent consultant (co-owner, Focus and Leverage Consulting) specializing in the enhanced profitability of organizations in a variety of business segments. Bruce received his BS degree from Weber State University, Ogden, Utah. In addition, he is board certified by the Theory of Constraints International Certification Organizations in the TOC Thinking Processes, TOC Operations Management, and TOC Project Management and is a certified Jonah, Jonah’s Jonah, and Academic Jonah. Bruce is an internationally recognized professional in Constraints Management and Systems Analysis.

Bruce has 33 years combined experience as an educator, executive, and consultant with numerous Fortune 500 companies and a number of international organizations and companies. Bruce is the coauthor of two books: Epiphanized: A Novel on Unifying Theory of Constraints, Lean, and Six Sigma, Second Edition (coauthored with Bob Sproull, Taylor & Francis) and Epiphanized: Integrating Theory of Constraints, Lean and Six Sigma (North River Press). He is also a frequent contributor to my Focus and Leverage blog site. (http://focusandleverage.blogspot.com).

Bob Sproull is an independent consultant who, along with Bruce Nelson, owns and operates Focus and Leverage Consulting, a Management Consulting firm specializing in improving the profitability of organizations from all business sectors. Bob is a certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, a Theory of Constraints Jonah, and an experienced manufacturing executive who has served as Vice President of Quality, Engineering, and Continuous Improvement for two different manufacturing companies. He has an extensive consulting background in manufacturing, healthcare, and MRO and focuses on teaching companies how to maximize their profitability through an integrated Theory of Constraints, Lean and Six Sigma (TLS) improvement methodology.

Bob is an internationally known speaker and is the author of four books: Second Edition Epiphanized: Integrating Theory of Constraints, Lean and Six Sigma (co-authored with Bruce Nelson 2015, Taylor & Francis); Epiphanized: Integrating Theory of Constraints, Lean and Six Sigma (coauthored with Bruce Nelson, North River Press); The Ultimate Improvement Cycle―Maximizing Profits Through the Integration of Lean, Six Sigma and the Theory of Constraints (Taylor and Francis); Process Problem Solving―A Guide for Maintenance and Operations Teams (Productivity Press).

Bruce and I hope you enjoy our sequel and that your holiday season is filled with joy and happiness.

Bob Sproull

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Interview with Rajeev Athavale Part 3.....

In this posting we will finish our interview with Rajeev Athavale about a new series of E-books he has recently published.  I want to say again that, if you are just beginning to learn about TOC, these books are just right for you.  But even if you are totally familiar with TOC, you will totally enjoy what Rajeev has put together.  And now on to the interview.
Bob: Tell my readers what else you have published?

Rajeev:  I have published a collection of articles authored by respected and well-known TOC Experts from all over the world.  The authors list (in alphabetical order) is as follows:

Adail Retamal, Alejandro Cespedes, Bill Dettmer, Daniel Walsh, David Burch, Dr. Alan Barnard, Dr. James R. Holt, E. R. “Tuck” McConnell, Eli Schragenheim, Etienne Du Plooy, Frank Patrick, Gary Bartlett, Henrik Martensson, Henry Camp, Jake Dell, Jerry Hahn, Joseph Pangilinan, Justin Roff-Marsh, Kevin Fox, Kevin Kohls, Martin Powell, Oded Cohen, Orion Avidan, Ravi Gilani, Robert Newbold, Rudolf Burkhard, Stefan Van Aalst, Ted Hutchin and Tony Rizzo.

Bob:  Tell us more about these articles.

Rajeev: These articles have been divided in two volumes, each volume containing 40 articles.  We’ve all found seams and traces of TOC gold scattered all over the web – echoes and extensions of the magnificently simple and profound concept so well-articulated and conveyed by Eli Goldratt.

Bob: Tell us more Rajeev.

Rajeev: “Echoes of TOC” gathers some of the best of these echoes together into a single easily accessible resource that you can refer to when you want to be reminded of an insight or to browse occasionally to refresh and extend your own mastery. It will also help to grow your clients’ insights into TOC, making it easier for you to help them capitalize on those insights even further.  It’s ideal for the TOC enthusiast, whether new to TOC or an expert in TOC practice.

Bob:  What have you written about how readers can implement what you're writing about Rajeev?

Rajeev: TOC Applications: Implementation Guidance (TOCDIY).  I have written three eBooks to help easy implementation of TOC applications for Manufacturing, Distribution and Projects.  They are small eBooks and give a very systematic path for implementing TOC.

Bob:  Are these small ebooks written for just consultants and what specifically will they explain to you? 

Rajeev:  If you are a business owner or a consultant or a manager in manufacturing business and you have problems in delivering orders on time, your lead time is increasing over a period of time and you have high inventory on the shop floor, the eBook for Manufacturing can certainly help you.

Bob: How about when you have distribution issues?
Rajeev: If you are a business owner or a consultant or a manager in Distribution business, and you have frequent shortages and surpluses and are carrying high inventory, the eBook for Distribution can certainly help you.

Bob:  How about people who are having trouble delivering projects on time, on scope and on budget? 

Rajeev:  If you are a business owner or a consultant or a manager engaged in Projects, and you are struggling to deliver the projects on time, within Budget and with full scope, and your project lead time is increasing over a period of time, the eBook for Projects can certainly help you.

Bob: So it looks like you've covered the most important topics and you've pretty much defined who these books are for?

Rajeev: If you are a consultant or an implementer implementing one or more of these applications, these eBooks will serve as a handy guide or checklist for the steps to be followed.  These eBooks are meant for Business Owners, Managers, Consultants and Implementers. These eBooks are Instruction Manuals for the three business applications and provide step by step guidance for implementing TOC applications.

Bob:  What else do you want to tell my readers Rajeev?

Rajeev:  If you find these reviews helpful, please acquire them and use them for your business and recommend them to others.  Here are the titles:

  1. Theory of Constraints – Do It Yourself Kit for Small & Medium size Enterprises for Manufacturing.
  2. Theory of Constraints – Do It Yourself Kit for Small & Medium size Enterprises for Distribution.
  3. Theory of Constraints – Do It Yourself Kit for Small & Medium size Enterprises for Projects.
Bob:  Sometimes I get questions from people where English is not their first language.  Have these ebooks been translated into other languages?    

Rajeev:  These three eBooks have been translated in the following languages:

French – Joel-Henry Grossard https://leanpub.com/book_search?search=grossard

German – Juergen Kanz https://leanpub.com/book_search?search=kanz

Italian – Carlo Buora https://leanpub.com/book_search?search=Buora

Spanish – Alejandro Fernendez   https://leanpub.com/book_search?search=Alejandro+Fernandez

Portuguese – Luis Cristovao https://leanpub.com/book_search?search=Luis+Cristovao
Bob: So where are these eBooks available for my readers?

Rajeev:  These eBooks are available on www.leanpub.com and considering the need, I would like all my eBooks to get translated in other languages. Currently, translations are happening in Chinese and Catalan language. I will be happy to have these eBooks in languages like Russian, Japanese etc.
If TOC people on your blog are interested in translating, they may reach me at Rajeev_athavale@yahoo.com

Bob: What prompted you to write these eBooks?  What was your objective? 

Rajeev: Over the years, there are several videos, books, training programs, websites, blogs, articles etc. have been developed by various experts starting with Dr. Goldratt. It is a great source for learning TOC.  I felt that if anybody wants to learn TOC systematically, there should be an easy and systematic way to do so. Even those who know TOC may need some material to check their knowledge and polish it.

There are universities, colleges, Business Schools that teach or at least desire to teach TOC. What basic materials do the professors and students have? If more and more educational institutions want to teach TOC, they will certainly need textbook kind of material. But is that really available?  The desire to create such material led me to create TOC Learner’s Guide series of eBooks.

Bob:  What's next after gaining the basic knowledge? 

Rajeev: There are people who are Gurus in TOC; many of them have learned directly from Dr. Goldratt and worked with him. As a take away from their vast experience, from time to time, they have published several articles, papers etc.   It would really be great if after gaining basic knowledge of TOC, one gets an easy access to such material. It will not only polish the knowledge gained but also give greater insight into TOC.

Bob:  Is this material available under one roof? Or does one needs to go on searching for them over the net? What are the chances that one will find them? Isn’t there a danger that such valuable resource may get lost over a period of time? Can someone not collect such pearls from these Gurus and make it available?

Rajeev: The desire to collect such material and make it available led to the creation of “Echoes of TOC (eTOC)” series of eBooks.

Bob: So, what next? Is that all?

Rajeev: Gaining knowledge about TOC and its applications is good, but not good enough!  One needs to know how to implement it. Implementation is a different ball game. The sequence of steps is very important. What should be done first? When and what should be done next? How does one know about it? How can we make it easy, simple and systematic to implement? There should be some material that gives step by step guidance for implementing TOC applications.  The desire to create such material led me to create TOC Do It Yourself (TOC DIY) kit.

Today, there are people who learned and worked with Dr. Goldratt. Unfortunately, Dr. Goldratt is no more. Imagine the situation after say two decades. It may so happen that most of these Gurus may not be available to teach us and clarify and polish our knowledge. The young generation then needs something to fall back on.  Hopefully, these eBooks may provide a jumpstart for them. And they can rely on them for the core knowledge about TOC.

Bob: Is this all the knowledge about TOC?

Rajeev: Not really. I have touched upon some important aspects of TOC. I have not yet dwelled upon topics like Sales and Marketing, Thinking Processes etc.  Also the fact is, TOC got developed and evolved over the years. I am sure it will continue to develop further. May be many years later, somebody will write a sequel to these eBooks. And that must happen to keep the latest knowledge well documented.

Bob: Before we end this interview, I have one last question Rajeev. When and how did you start your TOC journey?

Rajeev: It was year 2000 when my daughter was doing her MBA. Her professor asked the students to read the book "The Goal." I bought this book for my daughter. I found the title to be attractive. So I decided to read it. And it changed my life.

I went on reading Goldratt’s next book “It’s Not Luck” and thereafter I read all his books (and then by the books some other authors too). Fortunately, the internet is a great source of information and it opened up the wealth of knowledge for me.
I implemented the “Critical Chain” in a small way for few projects in my company and got a feel of the power of this approach. I always looked for the opportunity to use Goldratt’s Five Focusing Steps in whatever I did.
And then a big opportunity came my way.

Bob: And what was that Rajeev?

I had the opportunity to work on a large Viable Vision project executed by Goldratt Consulting.  As a part of the project, I was trained by various experts like Oded Cohen, Mickey Granot, Philip Wiljoen, Eli Schragenheim, Humberto Baptista, Kiran Kothekar and Martin Powell.

Apart from the training and on the job experience, study of Goldratt’s webcast, Strategy & Tactics Trees, TOC Insights, TOC Simulators, TOC Games and TOC SLPs helped me to enrich my knowledge. Now I am an ardent fan of TOC. Reading about TOC has moved me from “I am impressed” to “I like it” to “I want to know more…”  I did not realize when it became a passion for me. Now, I eat, sleep, breath and walk TOC.
Bob: Thank you Rajeev for sharing your vast knowledge of TOC and I encourage everyone to check out Rajeev's writings.  The website again is:  https://leanpub.com/u/rajeevathavale

Rajeev: Thanks Bob.

Bob Sproull



Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Interview with Rajeev Athavale Part 2.....

Today I want to continue with my interview with Rajeev Athavale as he discusses more about his new series of books.  I absolutely encourage everyone to get copies of Rajeev's books, especially if you are just learning about TOC.

Bob:  First I want to thank you Rajeev for your contribution to both my blog and for your contribution to the Theory of Constraints learning in general.

Rajeev:  I am very happy to present this set of eBooks. I call it ―TOC Learner‘s Guide‖ i.e. TOCLG series of eBooks.  Perhaps you are aware that I have already published three eBooks giving step by step guidance for implementing TOC‘s applications for Manufacturing, Distribution and Projects. I called it TOC Do It Yourself i.e. TOCDIY series of eBooks.  I have also published ―Echoes of TOC i.e. eTOC series of eBooks. It has two volumes containing 40 articles each authored by famous TOC Gurus.

Bob:  Tell us more about what has motivated you to write these TOCLG series of books Rajeev. 

Rajeev:  After having published TOCDIY and eTOC series of eBooks, I happened to interact with many people and I realized that there is a degree of ignorance about TOC and its applications and therefore there is a need to have small and simple eBooks to explain the basics of TOC and its applications. I felt that the knowledge and understanding of TOC has not spread enough. Although there is a fair amount of awareness, it is far from creating more and more followers of TOC.

Bob:  So you are motivated to create more of an awareness of how TOC applies to a variety of subjects?

Rajeev: Yes, these are the TOCLG series of eBooks that I have published for spreading the basic knowledge about TOC and Its applications:

  1. Theory of Constraints (TOC) Basic Concepts and Decision Making
  2. Theory of Constraints (TOC) Application for Manufacturing
  3. Theory of Constraints (TOC) Application for Projects
  4. Theory of Constraints (TOC) Application for Distribution

I felt that people need this kind of eBooks though there is a lot of knowledge available but scattered around in different place. I felt that bringing it together under one eBook for an application will really be helpful to learn and understand TOC and its applications in a better way.

Bob: I think you are right about these eBooks helping people learn the basics of TOC and to understand how TOC applies to a wide variety of uses.

Rajeev: The purpose of these eBooks is to explain in simple terms the concepts of TOC. The first eBook above gives knowledge about Five Focusing Steps and the Decision making based on the simple measurements defined by TOC. The other eBooks give application specific knowledge describing the problems faced, the causes and the solution offered by TOC.

Bob:  Have you been working on these books for a long time Rajeev?

Rajeev:  Let me be honest. I did not write these books during last few months. I have been writing this book for over a decade! No, I did not think of it then. I have been studying TOC for last 15 years or so.  During this period, I read several books, articles, papers etc. I visited several websites and gained knowledge about TOC. There are some discussion groups on Linkedin and Yahoo that helped me to understand it better.

Bob:  So if it took you this long, you must have a way of collecting information and holding it in a safe place?

Rajeev:  During this period, I had developed a habit of taking notes and since I had a computer, I wrote the notes on computer and saved them in various files. These notes were not summaries, but were something that I wanted to revisit, remember and imbibe on my mind. I felt that it may not be feasible to read these books again and again, so I thought it prudent to save my take away from these books (though later I did read many of these books several times). TOC was something new to me and the thoughts presented were counter-intuitive though very logical. It was possible that due to my day-to-day chores, I could forget these principles. So these thoughts prompted me to write notes. Unfortunately, there was no discipline that I followed in writing those notes. I created several folders and several files and noted what I liked from time to time. Later, I created some training material and conducted training programs. I collected and organized these notes for this as well as for the eBooks that I have already published.
Bob:  For everyone that has not yet written and published a book, tell everyone your secret.

Rajeev:  Well, there is no secret. It was strong desire, determination and hard work that led to completion of the eBooks. I did this along with the other things that I was doing – Training, consulting etc. I have been trying to put the information in the form of these eBooks for more than a year. It was not an easy task. These eBooks are different than my DIY series eBooks. DIY series eBooks were prescriptive. They precisely tell the sequence of steps to be taken to implement TOC applications. Probably, that was easy. Though I did not think so then. When I started writing TOCLG series of eBooks which are descriptive in nature, I felt that it was much easier to write DIY kind of eBooks.

Bob:  Was it easier Rajeev?

Rajeev:  I realized that writing a descriptive eBook is a different kind of challenge. I have to use very simple language. I have to write in very clear and in unambiguous language. I have to make reading interesting by way of examples and games. I must add diagrams, pictures, charts, graphs etc. I have to present the matter in such a sequence that makes it appealing as well as easy to understand.

Though the nature of these eBooks is descriptive, I have to take care of writing short chapters explaining one or few concepts at a time.  Like many other TOC books, I avoided writing a business novel. I had to make it simple, concise and effective.

Bob:  My last two books and my upcoming sequel were all business novels and I have to tell you that compared to the type of books you've written, they are much easier.

Rajeev:  I can’t comment on that since I have not written a business novel yet. I believe apart from what I had to do, it requires lot more creativity and imagination. I struggled to do all that. It took huge amount of time, energy and patience. I did several iterations of reviews.  Finally, I felt that I have perfected everything, I decided to publish. However, I am aware that nothing is ever perfect and there always be a scope of improvement. I will certainly do that after getting some feedback.  

By reading these eBooks, if you get passionate about TOC, all credit should go to Dr. Goldratt. If however, you do not understand it well, please don‘t blame the theory, assume that it‘s my failure.

I find people are skeptical when they talk about any ―Theory. What they feel that the term ―Theory means something that is not practical. Actually, it means exactly the opposite. There is nothing more practical than a theory. A theory is a model, a representation of the reality that will facilitate the prediction of effects based on cause analysis.

In my next blog post we will finish this interview with Rajeev.  As a reminder, the link for Rajeev's books is https://leanpub.com/u/rajeevathavale

Bob Sproull


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Interview With Rajeev Athavale Part 1

In the next several blog posts, I will be interviewing Rajeev Athavale about a new series of books he has just unveiled.  I have finished reading the first one and I have to tell you, if they are all as good as this first one, which I'm sure they are, I highly recommend these books to everyone who wants to improve their business and organizations.  Here is the link to those interested:  https://leanpub.com/u/rajeevathavale

Bob:  First, I want to welcome you to my blog.  I think it's time that people learned much more about you and your excellent writing style.

Rajeev:  Thank you Bob.

Bob:  So tell my readers a bit about your new book series.

Rajeev:  I have published three series of TOC eBooks viz.

  1. TOC Learner’s Guide (TOCLG)
  2. Echoes of TOC (eTOC)
  3. TOC Do It Yourself (DIY) kit.

 Bob:  Tell me very briefly as to what readers will get from these eBooks?

 Rajeev:   The three books are very much related. 

  1. TOCLG series will imbibe the core of TOC and its applications.
  2. eTOC series will give insight into the wisdom gathered by TOC Gurus and help to mature the knowledge gained by reading TOCLG series.
  3. TOC DIY series will give step by step guidance for implementing TOC applications.

Bob:   What do the eBooks contain?

Rajeev:  Learner’s Guides (TOCLG)


  • Theory of Constraints (TOC) Basic Concepts and Decision Making: This eBook explains the basic concepts of Theory of Constraints (TOC).  The eBook discusses in detail the Five Focusing Steps. It defines the basic measurements prescribed by TOC and shows how to use them for decision making.
  • Theory of Constraints (TOC) Application for Manufacturing: This eBook discusses the problems faced by manufacturing industries and shows the causes that are responsible for these problems. It explains in detail, TOC’s application for Manufacturing i.e. Drum-Buffer-Rope (DBR) and Simplified-Drum-Buffer-Rope.
  • Theory of Constraints (TOC) Application for Projects: This eBook discusses the problems faced by Projects organizations and shows the causes that are responsible for these problems.  It explains in detail TOC’s application for Project Management i.e. Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM).
  • Theory of Constraints (TOC) Application for Distribution: This eBook discusses the problems faced by Distribution system in most companies and also shows the causes that are responsible for these problems.  It explains in detail TOC’s application for Distribution system.

These eBooks contain several Figures, Tables, Diagrams, Pictures, Charts, Graphs, Examples, Quotes, Exercises and Games as appropriate. At the end of many chapters, a very brief summary is provided under the heading “Points to Ponder”.

Each of these eBooks has about 25 Multiple Choice Self-assessment questions. They help the readers to assess the knowledge gained by reading these eBooks.  This eBooks series is an excellent guide for those who want to learn TOC and its applications.

Bob:  Thanks very much Rajeev. 

In my next blog post, we'll continue our interview with Rajeev.  I encourage you all to get yourself a copy of these books, especially if you're new to TOC.

Bob Sproull

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Focus and Leverage Begins Again.......

For those of you who are regular followers of my blog, I have finally found time to come back and begin posting on a regular basis.  For the past several months I've been working on a 2nd edition of Epiphanized published by our new publisher, Taylor and Francis in early June.  Bruce and I have also been working on our sequel to Epiphanized which should be published in the November/December  time frame.  The sequel has the same main characters, Becky, Connor, Sam and Joe working in two new industries, Healthcare and Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul,  working their magic.

I've also been on the road, traveling to Australia for almost three weeks holding four separate continuous improvement workshops and speaking at an international manufacturing symposium.  I've also been holding CI workshops in Michigan and Minnesota for the customers of ECi M1, an ERP software developer.  In addition, I'm in the middle of selling my home in Kennesaw, GA and am set to close on August 17th.  I'm moving to Alabama to be closer to four of my grandkids.

In the next few posts, I will be having an interview with Rajeev Athavale from Mumbai, India.  Rajeev is a TOC Consultant who does Consulting and Training.  He has written a TOC related book for Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research., Mumbai. Rajeev has collected and presented "Echoes of Theory of Constraints (eTOC)" - A collection of TOC Articles contributed by well-known and respected TOC authors.

Rajeev has written three eBooks entitled "Theory of Constraints - Do It Yourself Kit for Small and Medium size Enterprises" giving step by step guidance for implementing TOC for Manufacturing, Distribution and Projects. These eBooks have been translated in French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese languages.  I will be interviewing Rajeev in the next few series of posts, so stay tuned.

If you'd like to see all his books, go to:


for his complete collection.

Bob Sproull


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Manufacturing Breakthrough Bootcamps

Manufacturing Breakthrough Bootcamp Coming to Michigan and Minnesota

To all of my friends in the Midwest, I will be facilitating two Manufacturing Breakthrough Bootcamps in Michigan and Minnesota on July 15th and 16th respectively.  In these bootcamps I will demonstrate how to identify your company’s key leverage points so that your improvement efforts are focused in the right areas. I’ll show you how to combine the Theory of Constraints, Lean and Six Sigma (TLS) in a way that will jump start your improvement efforts and deliver new levels of performance and profitability that you will be able to sustain to fuel future growth.  So what are the details and how do you sign up for these bootcamps?

Who should attend: The workshop is best suited to decision makers in a manufacturing organization and staff in the following areas: Business Owner (Owner, President), Operations (Production Manager, Operations Manager), Finance/Accounting (CFO, Controller, Purchasing & Inventory)
What does it cost: Amazingly the cost is just $35.00! How is this possible when this type of course usually costs $500 or more per person?  It’s possible because M1 is subsidizing the cost for my time for your benefit!  I don’t think you’ll ever find another deal quite like this one!!


When: Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Where: DoubleTree Hotel, 800 Harker Street, Port Huron, MI 48060
Time: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (Name badge and materials pick-up begins at 8:00 am)
Inclusions:  Catered Lunch (Breakfast buffet is available through the Doubletree Hotel for approximately $10.00)
Space is limited: Pre-registration is required for the Manufacturing Breakthrough Bootcamp.  We already have several manufacturers signed up, so make sure to secure your spots soon!
Here’s the Michigan link to sign-up: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/eci-m1-manufacturing-breakthrough-bootcamp-tickets-17155554726
First come, first served, registration closes June 25th!


When: Thursday, July 16, 2015
Where: New Brighton Community Center, 400 10th Street NW, New Brighton, MN 55112
Time: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (Name badge and materials pick-up begins at 8:00 am)
Inclusions:  Catered Lunch (Coffee and donuts will be available for breakfast)
Space is limited: Pre-registration is required for the Manufacturing Breakthrough Bootcamp.  We already have several manufacturers signed up, so make sure to secure your spots soon!

Here’s the Minnesota link to sign up:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/eci-m1-manufacturing-breakthrough-bootcamp-tickets-17234961233
First come, first served, registration closes July 9th!

I have been helping ECi M1 since November of last year and I have to tell you that I’ve never worked with a company that is so focused on their customers.  I just returned from a trip to Australia with M1 and while I was there, I facilitated four of these same bootcamps in different areas of Australia.  And based upon both the comments I received from the participants plus feedback from a survey, the bootcamp were very well received.  I encourage everyone who is interested in a new approach to improvement to come and hear for yourselves how to do so in this bootcamp.  Here is a video of the manufacturers we interviewed last year after attending our last US bootcamp: http://manufacturing.ecisolutions.com/special/video-learn-what-manufacturers-have-to-say-about-the-bootcmap.aspx

I look forward to seeing everyone in Michigan and Minnesota.

Bob Sproull