The changing business environment, from a global perspective, demands adequate flexibility throughout the educational setting to compensate for these changes. That is, business is consistently changing as it transitions into the global environment. Distinct changes to the educational system are mandatory in order to meet these needs and prepare individuals for success as they move toward the modern business environment (Conklin, 2010).
Critical Chain by E. M. Goldratt introduces the need for a dynamic approach in education in order to accommodate the world of business. Adaptation has been present in the business environment, where the same demand applies to the educational structure, recognizing the need for a new culture of educators and students (Conklin, 2010). Critical Chain begins by recognizing the issues associated with time estimates, and how projects are impacted by these estimates, particularly if they are inaccurate and diminish the project (Goldratt, 1997).
The Theory of Constraints becomes a critical focus within the text, applicable to a steel mill that the author uses as an example to examine the implementation and associated effectiveness of this theory in the ever-changing business environment (Goldratt, 1997). With a heightened emphasis on the Theory of Constraints, the author examines the theory and its applicable nature to several factors, such as resource generation and allocation, constraints, flexibility, multi-tasking, and so forth.
The dynamic nature of the theory is assessed throughout the text, particularly with the implementation into the steel mill to bring a real world approach to this theory and its adaptive qualities in the business environment. Rick Silver is an associate professor who struggles to make an impact in the educational environment. As a young business professor, Silver and his Executive MBA students attempt to use coordination and collaboration to enhance the learning environment. Innovative project management concepts are introduced to the students, where the time-to-market cycle becomes the focus of discussion.
That is, reducing the time-to-market cycle for a modern manufacturing firm is the critical objective examined in the text (Goldratt, 1997). As an instructor with an expertise in project management, Silver is seeking tenure and understands publications will enhance his opportunity to move forward and ensure his own longevity in the educational environment. Projects are running late, where time effectiveness is not a priority. Much of the book is about attempting to change this problem and develop solutions that will meet the demands of the dynamic global business environment.
Problems Improper time management can be recognized as the most pressing problem throughout the book. One quote shines to demonstrate the issue of time effectiveness, which is highlighted throughout the text. “In computer programming we say that a project will always run out of time but never run out of excuses” (Goldratt, 1997, p. 12). To say that a project never has enough time, where it always runs out of time is a critical issue in the business environment. Further, recognizing the importance of computer programming toward shaping technology, this becomes a widespread issue.
If programmers do not have the appropriate amount of time to complete their products, the end user will not receive a product that is going to follow the vision, or what was expected prior to the programming starting. Computer programming is a critical component of the global business environment as individuals, firms and other entities with a high level of importance require diligence and precision with these programs for defense, governmental initiatives and other means of importance, not to mention pleasing the technology-driven consumer (Guy, 2009).
Thus, by recognizing that computer programmers do not have enough time to effectively complete their projects, but are making excuses at a rapid pace, it becomes clear that there is a critical problem in this industry and a desperate need to implement proper time management strategies. Prior to moving forward, it becomes important to identify the title of the book: critical path. One recognizes a critical path as the longest chain of steps, each dependent on one another, that it will take to finish a project.
That is, the critical path is a method of completing the project, but one that has the maximum amount of steps, ensuring that the project will be completed in the longest amount of time; this is not time effective in the business environment (Schmidheiny, 1992). If there is a delay along the path, the entire project is going to be delayed as any issue with a stage along the path is going to ensure that regression takes place, where one will need to return to a prior point on the path and essentially complete a do-over.
The end product is likely to fail if there are issues along the critical path as time efficacy becomes critical and one will bypass steps in order to ensure that a deadline is met (Schmidheiny, 1997). So much of the text is associated with time management for this purpose, understanding the burden placed on the end user if the appropriate methods along the critical path are not followed.
Even further, the book recognizes the ineffective nature of the critical path, as it can be broken down to have fewer steps that would enhance production and time efficacy, benefitting those involved in the planning process, manufacturing, and the end user who receives a quality product in a shorter period of time. When recognizing the modern global business environment, time becomes a factor of heightened importance. Guy (2009) understands that product quality has become less important as time has emerged as a critical factor shaping user appreciation.
Thus, the user is willing to give up on quality so that time and price are higher factors (Guy, 2009). While this may seem like an uneven tradeoff of a product with lesser quality is going to deliver less satisfaction in the long run, the emphasis on time and the need for proper time management is a focus on the text, and one that develops into a problem in need of a solution. The high probability of budget overruns, time overruns, and compromising the content are problems that are common to all projects regardless of the industry.
The author recognizes these problems in the construction industry in the text. There has already been a connection to the computer programming environment, where time always runs out for these programmers who are critical to success in the global business environment. So, the problems have been identified and there is clearly a need for solutions to meet these problems, as the global business environment is one that is rapidly changing and demands adaptation in order to succeed (Guy, 2009).
“We tend to blame it, in each specific project, on one string of bad luck or another” (Guy, 2009, p. 3). However, the examples demonstrated throughout the text have proven that this extends beyond bad luck. There is a pressing need for industry-wide improvements, not to the specific environments and their respective expertise, but to all industries responsible for contributing to an effective global marketplace. From construction to computer science and everywhere in-between, this has become an issue, highlighted by the three points emphasized in the text: time, budget and compromising the content.
Specific methods must address each of these, but theories should collectively address the needs of each of these areas moving forward. Solutions: Theory of Constraints The Theory of Constraints (TOC) acts as a methodology with the aim of recognizing the most important factor that will limit production, or stand in the way of achieving a goal. The purpose of TOC is to systematically improve the areas of constraint so that they are no longer a burden to production and the ability to achieve a goal (Dettmer, 1997). This theory, developed by Goldratt was initially developed with a focus on scheduling.
As described, time effectiveness is a critical area discussed throughout the text, where time management was lacking and the end product did not reflect quality and diligence throughout the process. There has been a transitional development when recognizing TOC, however. It has been used to attack the methods of product cost, and holds a distinct relationship with marketing (Dettmer, 1997). As it emerged, TOC became connected with methods of removing friction between individuals, which has a relationship with time effectiveness.
That is, as individuals are in a state of conflict with one another in an organizational setting, time management loses focus (Dettmer, 1997). Thus, there is a critical level of focus toward individuals and their relationships within an organizational setting. Time management has a correlation with the conflict that emerges when these relationships are not in-tact, and there is a need for individualism by employees, rather than collectivism. This is one of the points of focus throughout the text, where disruption among the individuals can be a major factor, where the TOC looks to diminish the adverse impact of this conflict.
TOC is dynamic in the business environment. It is a problem-solver that is not limited by boundaries because it is applicable to different situations and scenarios within the business environment, expanding from the domestic environment and specific industries to the global environment where the diverse nature of business shines. There are three breakthroughs associated with TOC, and the diversity or robust nature is the final one, which it is most recognized for accomplishing. Additionally, TOC is a fairly new or innovative methodology in the business environment.
Further, there is a strong association with the research methods introduced under this theory, where the implications moving forward will be beneficial to the dynamic global business environment, one that demands adaptation in order to succeed. Resources may lack the capacity to meet the demand. The author has highlighted this as a constant problem that TOC needs to address. The constraints of the system need to be identified, which may be physical in nature and reliant on enough physical resources to achieve a level of satisfaction.
Goldratt (1997) recognizes the bottleneck concept within an organizational setting and understands that a firm demonstrating a bottleneck approach to its resources will not succeed. The weakest link of the organization, under TOC, will be improved. That is, the methodology will point out this weak link and look to identify the deciding factors, improving these from strengths to weaknesses and developing forward-moving initiatives. The student syndrome ensures that individuals have enough time to perform their duties, however they put off starting the project until it is too late to complete it in the remaining time (Dettmer, 1997).
TOC has a distinct connection with these problems and incorporates solutions so that they do not continue to burden the organization and those responsible for productivity and the proper allocation of resources, including time management, within the organizational structure. Connection to a Real World Business The Theory of Constraints is not limited to an organization in its application. It is not even limited to an industry or the business environment, as TOC has been recognized as a critical benefit to real life events, even beyond business.
By gaining clarity about what one wants to achieve, recognizing and comprehending the system that one will use to achieve these goals, and executing the system by following the steps in the correct order, one has utilized the TOC in order to improve their life, and the associated processes necessary to achieve their goals. Of course, individuals are often able to execute a system once it has been understood. The more difficult component is developing a vision for what one wants and understanding the best system to use in order to achieve these goals.
Individuals are quick to second-guess their decisions and change their minds, not realizing what they actually want. Consider an individual who wants to quit his job. He knows that this cannot be completed until he is able to compensate for the salary that will be lost. Thus, he knows that he needs to find another job paying the same amount, or more. The goal has been set, but achieving this goal through the best means of production is difficult. Does he go to the newspaper for job listings? Does he use an online service such as Monster?
Does he go into physical businesses with a suit-and-tie and promote himself? This is a critical step in the process, where TOC will point out the effective measures, and more importantly the problems in the process that are going to limit one’s ability to achieve these goals. In the business environment or a real world setting, TOC is applicable and has positive implications moving forward, for the individuals and their associated firms. Critical Chain is an innovative movement in the world of business, with an emphasis on the educational environment as a stepping stone to progress.
The book is timeless despite new initiatives emerging as the global business environment is ever-changing. Students and experts in the field will benefit by recognizing the principles described throughout this text, applicable to real world settings and appreciated for the diligence involved with the Theory of Constraints, a primary focus of the book and the author’s methodology toward reaching a point of efficacy and time effectiveness, and the ability to utilize the resources available toward meeting a goal. Southwest Airlines Southwest Airlines has a distinct connection to the book and the theories demonstrated within.
The airline was riddled by time constraints, where time management was diminishing the success of the company (Gittell, 2005). The ability to use time buffers is impacted as there are time constraints evident within the organization (Gittell, 2005). Southwest found it necessary to make adjustments and incorporated the Theory of Constraints in order to improve operations and demonstrate a higher level of productivity. The time constraints evident in the organizational structure of Southwest transitioned into a respect for time and the value of time in the operational setting.
There was a dramatic shift in the dynamic, where Southwest was able to develop a competitive advantage with an emphasis on time effectiveness (Gittell, 2005). This was done using the TOC and what it represents, where recognition of the value of time acts as an initial step in the process, transitioning into additional steps that will ensure time is utilized to promote the highest level of productivity. Specific to Southwest, the turnaround time of aircraft is unmatched in the industry, where the constraints previously associated with time became an advantage for the company.
The organizational culture of Southwest is one that focuses on efficacy with a respect for time. Moving forward, the company understands that this must be maintained in order to uphold this industrywide advantage. One flying with the airline will recognize and appreciate this respect for time, where it is evident that the company knows time is important for staff and the consumer, and proper management will improve operations moving forward while maintaining the organizational integrity of the company.