Theory of Constraints

  • From Cedric Chin: Consume What You Can Do
    • The Theory of Constraints makes a few “obvious” statements:
      • 1. Every system has a bottleneck that is tighter than the others.
      • 2. The performance of the whole system is constrained by the tightest bottleneck.
      • 3. The only way to improve the overall performance of the system is to improve that bottleneck.
    • The useful corollary of this is that effort spent on improving the efficiency of non-bottlenecked areas is wasted effort.
    • Also, the amount of effort put into performing a workflow should be equal to the capacity of the tightest bottleneck.
    • This gives us two methods of dealing with bottlenecks:
      • Improve the bottleneck. This improves the maximum efficiency of the process.
      • Limit how much is going through it so that things don’t back up. This prevents delays and overhead from tracking everything queued up and choosing the next item to take from the queue, and allows more effort to be spent on other things instead.
    • While the first option of improving the efficacy is more appealing, in reality the second is often much easier to perform. In the spirit of via negativa, it’s simply removing work instead of altering and adding things.

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or comments, please send me a note on Twitter. And if you enjoyed this, I also have a newsletter where I send out interesting things I read and the occasional nature photo.

You can check out a recent issue, or enter your email below to subscribe.