Q2. I first came across Critical Chain when Eli published his book in 1997. It was a great coincidence for me: I'd read The Goal a couple of years earlier but - working in software development - I struggled to see how I could use TOC; Critical Chain seemed useful in my world and it kicked off my obsession with TOC. I take it that you were involved with Critical Chain before Goldratt's book hit the shelves. Tell me ... what was it like in the early days?
To be perfectly frank, prior to the publishing of Eli's book Critical Chain, CCPM was a very small part of what we did at the Institute - at least in the business unit I was in and I'm pretty sure across the other units as well. At that time the TOC offerings were typically viewed less as a holistic approach, as Eli and others now (rightfully) advocate via Viable Vision and other approaches, but a collection of various solutions. On the one side we had strategic solutions with the Thinking Processes and the Jonah Program. On the other side were what we called the "derivative applications" - tactical solutions that had originally been derived by the use of the TP.
Those derivative solutions were Production, Distribution, Sales & Marketing, Throughput Accounting, Setting the Direction of a Company, Management Skills and Project and Engineering Management. At that time "project and engineering management" was essentially Critical Chain and "Flush" (flush being a simple model for determining project pay back). As far as I know, as the CCPM solution was developed (and the book written) "flush" disappeared and the full CCPM with buffer management, etc. evolved. Critical Chain at that time was, I believe, primarily a scheduling approach - very little had been done relative to execution and buffer management, and no consideration at all to the multi-project approach (in fact, even the book Critical Chain is mostly silent to the dynamics of the multi-project environment - focusing on single projects). It was almost a twist on the DBR scheduling - that little formal development had been done at the time.
I don't know if it was serendipity or if Eli just knew it was the right time, but the timing of the book Critical Chain was perfect from a market standpoint - after the publication our business mix changed from probably < 5% Critical Chain type work to well over half. Companies felt that, to a large degree, they had achieved a level of order in their supply chains. At that point what I call "Development Chain" became the hot topic - the combination (and continuum) of portfolio management, pipeline management and project management. At that point the Lucents, Seagates, Herman Millers, et al of the world starting really investing in their NPD environments re: real solutions. At about that same time some very powerful software solutions were developed specifically to support CCPM, and that really helped to institutionalize the solutions in distributed organizations (fortunately or unfortunately, CCPM multi-project management is nearly impossible to effectively execute without software).