Last week I published an (updated) PDF of Alan Barnard's latest TOCICO presentation. I found Alan's distinction between systemic and symptomatic conflicts fascinating and so I asked him to answer a few questions for this blog.
Here's the first question:
1) Alan, can you tell me a little bit about your background? How long have you been using it?
I graduated in 1991 with a BsC Industrial Engineering degree (Cum Laude) and was offered a job as Industrial Engineering Manager at a company called “Hendler & Hart” – the largest Stainless Steel, Aluminium and Enamel Cookware and Catering Equipment manufacturer in Southern African at the time. The Industrial Engineering department I managed was made up of 3 Industrial Engineers and 2 draftsmen with the responsibility to improve productivitiy and provide management information to enable good holistic decisions for both manufacturing (4 factories) and a distribution network that covered Southern Africa.
Where did you learn TOC?
Only a few months after starting, I got a copy of THE GOAL from my brother Deon who was working at Iscor (Steel Manufacturer) as an Electrical Engineering Manager - Iscor was in the process of implementing Theory of Constraints at the time. As most others, I fell in love with the common sense and simple analysis processes, questions and solutions of TOC and immediately started implementing it within our company. This was in late 1992. The results were quite typical – 50% increase in Factory Throughput, increase in On-time-in-Full performance from 60% to above 95% all with the same and in some cases even less resources.
We soon incorporated the TOC rules into our MRP II system and later (when the AS400 system became to expense to maintain) developed our own full MRP system doing finite capacity scheduling with all the TOC rules and Throughput Accounting in what was considered a record at the time of only 6 months (idea to full implemantion doing all the programming ourselves).
It was during this time that our Managing Director asked me what he can give me in return for the improvement efforts I lead – the answer was simple – I wanted to learn how to think like Jonah in THE GOAL. In 1993 I attended a Jonah Program and it was during this program that I first met Dr. Eli Goldratt who was in the country doing an External Constraint Analysis workshop. During our first meeting he asked me a simple but quite profound question – what was my goal in life? Turns out that none of the goals I had set for myself at the time (e.g. to own my own company by age 30 etc) matched his definition of what a “Goal in Life is” – he told me a “Goal” is something that once you achieve it, you are ready to die…! Well, at only 24 years old, I could not imagine I would be “ready to die” ever but it really made me think. I soon realized that according to Eli’s definition (at least for me), a “Goal” could never be a destination, but it had to define a journey, and since there was always a chance that you could die at any moment, had to be verbalized in a way that you can achieve your goal every day (or at least know whether your actions that day took you closer or further away from your goal).
In the same spirit as Eli’s goal (“Teaching the world how to think”), I verbalized my own goal as – “Teaching the world (and myself) how to SEE and UNLOCK inherent potential…”
Since that day (early 1994), this is what has kept me up at night – an absolute passion to figure out what governs (limits or enables) us to SEE and UNLOCK inherent potential. In retro-spect, since that day, all my significant choices in business were driven by gaining the necessary opportunities, challenges, training and mentors to prepare me for achieving my goal. It was also obvious from the beginning to me, that TOC would play a significant part on this journey – not just learning its implications and applications but also helping with the further discovery, development and dissemination of it around the world.
After Hendler & Hart I was looking for a new (bigger) challenge. After talking through my options with Eli, I joined SABMiller where I had the opportunity to apply TOC to a company considered by most already as “World Class” and which most assumed could not be improved by much or at least not without major investments. My first challenge was to explain why the most “State-of-the-art” brewery was also the most unreliable in achieving their montly production targets. The analysis helped me make new discoveries on how to really apply TOC to the process industry as well as discoveries on common mistakes made in the design and management of breweries which I am told have changed the way many breweries today are now designed and managed.
After SABMiller I decided to go full-time into TOC consulting and education and became an associate of the Goldratt Insitute, qualifying as Jonah’s Jonah in 1998 and licensed in all the TOC applications.
In 2000, I joined the Goldratt Institute in South Africa as an executive director and shareholder.