Bob Sproull's new book, co-written with Bruce Nelson, is called
Epiphanized: Integrating Theory of Constraints, Lean and Six Sigma
and it's out now on amazon.
You can follow Bob's blog here: http://focusandleverage.blogspot.com/
1. Bob, you're a well known figure in the TOC community. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Where are you based? What's your work day like? And so forth...
I've been around since Moby Dick was a minnow and I actually live just north of Atlanta, GA. I'm a certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt and a TOC Jonah. I've been in continuous improvement for what seems like an eternity. I was part of the Deming revolution, TQM, and so forth. I have an extensive background in Manufacturing with well known companies like Xerox, Michelin Tire where I served in a CI capacity. I've been the General Manager of a manufacturing company that was scheduled to be closed, but we were able to turn it around in several months and it became the model for the parent company. I was the VP of Quality and Continuous Improvement for 2 companies and a TPS Senior Consultant for about 9 years. In 2008 I took a position with a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) company supporting the US Army's fleet of helicopters where we implemented TLS and CCPM. With our CCPM initiatives we were able to reduce scheduled maintenance cycle times by about 40%. I am currently a Senior Business Consultant for NOVACES, LLC which is a TOC, Lean, Six Sigma consulting company. I'm very happy to be a part of this company and believe it is the premier provider of CPI. I've been married to my wonderful wife Beverly for 44 years with 3 children and 5 grandchildren. I enjoy writing articles, books and I have a very active blog named Focus and Leverage.
2. Can you tell us about your TOC journey?
My TOC journey began in the mid-1990's when I was hired as a GM to either close a plant or turn it around. I had no prior operation's management experience, byt the man who hired me (my mentor) gave me a copy of The Goal and told me everything I needed to know was in this book.....and he was right. Since then I've had a variety of TOC experiences and along the way became a Jonah. In 2009 I was fortunate enough to have a book published, (The Ultimate Improvement Cycle - Maximizing Profits Through the Integration of Lean, Six Sigma and the Theory of Constraints.
3. Why the new book? Do we need another TOC book?
Excellent questions. The reason I felt compelled to write this new book is because I think we (my co-author Bruce Nelson and I) have a different kind of message to bring forward. This book is loosely based on both of our travels in the TOC world, both the positive and negative parts of our journeys. In this book we combine some known and not so well known tools into a business novel format which I personally believe the readers relate to much easier than straight technical books. We tried to create a storyline that readers will relate to and to demonstrate just how quickly positive results can happen when TOC is used correctly....especially when it is integrated with Lean and Six Sigma. In my opinion, the path to profitability is not through removing waste and variation in every step of the process and I wanted to get this message out. So in answer to your second question, do we need another TOC book, I respond with a definitive yes! I want people with positive experiences to write about them and share them with the world and a book is a great way to do this.
4. How did you got about creating the new book? Was it easier or harder than your earlier book? This is actually my third book. Back in 2001 my first book was published (Process Problem Solving - A Guide to Maintenance and Operation's Teams) but I had no idea what I was doing. How did I go about writing this book? One day I woke up and started writing and kept on writing. I hadn't ever written a business novel before, but I can tell you it was 100 times easier than I thought it would be. The cool thing about a business novel is that it can take you in so many different directions. I mean you are constantly coming to different crossroads and you just make a decision on which way to go. This book actually only took Bruce and I about 4 months to write....it's the publishing that takes so long.
5. If you had a really tall building with really slow lifts ... what's your book's elevator speech?
The short elevator speech is that TOC is all about focus and leverage. Use TOC to find your leverage point (i.e. your constraint) and focus your improvement efforts on it rather than trying to "solve world hunger" by fixing everything.
6. A question of your choosing ...
What makes this book different from the others? This book is unique for your typical business novel. In addition to the business novel, Bruce and I have created a very active appendix. We take storyline tools and techniques and expand on them in the appendix. We did that because we both remembered that when we were beginning our journeys, often times we wouldn't understand something and had to leave the book we were reading and go find a reference and it broke our reading pattern. By having an appendix that expands upon these subjects in the same book, we feel the flow of reading will be disrupted less often.