|The underlying process used in all aspects
of TOC is the Five Focusing Steps. This method helps us to
focus our efforts to maximise system improvement.
It begins with the assumption that any system has something
holding it back, preventing it from achieving more of its
goal – a constraint. The first step is therefore to
identify this constraint.
Step 1 - Identify the constraint.
If a constraint governs the output of a system, then before
the system output can be improved, there must be a clear
idea of where that constraint is!
Step 2 - Exploit the constraint.
If a system is only capable of producing at the rate of
its constraint (a chain is only as strong as its weakest
link), then that part of the system must be kept busy all
of the time and squeezed for all it is worth! One unit lost
at the constraint is a unit lost for the system as a whole.
Step 3 - Subordinate to the constraint.
If there is a weakest link in a chain, then it follows that
the rest of the chain has the ability to produce more than
the weakest link. The role of the rest of the chain is not
to produce more than the weakest link. Instead, it should
help support it or be subordinate to its needs, ensuring
the constraint is able to focus on doing only what it is
Step 4 - Elevate the constraint.
Eventually the system will reach a point where its constraint
has been exploited or squeezed to its maximum. At this point,
investment in additional capacity is usually considered,
and this is known as “elevation” of the constraint.
The elevation step is usually, but not always, a strategic
Step 5 - Do not let Inertia
become the constraint.
Once the system constraint has been elevated, the constraint
will move to a new point in the system! The system therefore
cannot be managed the same way as before and Step 1 must
be revisited. In this way, a process of continuous improvement
Please click on the links opposite to see a brief flash
demonstration of the Five Focusing Steps in: