I am willing to bet that you are stuck. Somewhere in your personal life, you are stuck. And you have not been able to get unstuck. You may not even know where you are stuck. But stuck you are…
I am willing to bet that somewhere in your organization, things are stuck. And your organization has not been able to get unstuck. You may not even know where your organization is stuck. But stuck your organization is…
You can use other words for this reality, but the one that seems to fit best is “bottleneck.” Things slow to a trickle at the bottleneck. Sometimes they completely clog up. This is not good for the health of your organization.
Now, a healthy organization knows that getting stuck is indeed likely. Every organization gets stuck.
So, what sets the healthy organization above the others? What does the healthy organization do differently, better than the unhealthy ones? They are always looking for the current bottleneck. They identify it. They tackle it, with time and resources and energy, until they unclog the bottleneck — until they get unstuck.
And then, after about fifteen minutes celebrating their success, they go to work looking for the next bottleneck.
So, if a vital sign of health is “a healthy organization identifies and removes bottlenecks,” then it seems that leaders have to take identifying and removing bottlenecks as a very serious task. There is not a moment to waste. If there is a clog, a bottleneck, if the organization is stuck, you’ve got to get on it and get it fixed now. You are wasting time, losing money, and falling behind your competitors until the bottleneck is cleared.
So, where do you look for your bottleneck(s)? The book to start with is the long-time, much-respected best-selling The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu Goldratt and Jeff Cox.
I would summarize the key thoughts this way:
- Something is slowing you down — something is causing the bottleneck.
- You don’t know what this problem is.
- You don’t know how this problems interacts with other problems.
- Once you identify it and “fix it,” you have to repeat the process to find the next new problem.
- And, though you want to identify a machine, a piece of software, something physical/tangible, a person, etc. as the bottleneck, it is very likely that the bottleneck is a process bottleneck. Look for the process bottleneck.
- The Theory of Constraints (TOC) means: There is a (current) constraint (bottleneck). Find the constraint, fix it, get a better process, then find the next restraint. (“A chain is no stronger than its weakest link”).
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis