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Velocity Part 5 – Elevating the Capacity to Change Constraint

In my previous blog, I listed and explained briefly what needed to be elevated to ensure we used correctly the main constraint of organisational/cultural change projects, namely the capacity and will to change of the humans involved in and/or impacted by such projects. In this blog entry and at least the four others to come, I will discuss the different means of elevating the “capacity” part of this constraint.

In my last blog entry, among possible means to elevate capacity, I identified at least four. Three were related to better managing knowledge issues: the know what, the know what to do and the know how to do. The fourth one was related to better managing resource availability issues, including human resources, monetary resources, physical resources, as well as time resources.

I will tackle the resource availability issues of organisational/cultural change projects in this and the next blog entry. Those issues are not that different from those on other types of projects. They are also often presented as the main subject around which revolves TOC[1] when applied to project management. So before going too far discussing those, I believe we have to revisit what has been written about TOC-Project Management by the principal person concerned, Eliyahu M. Goldratt. So this is what I will do today.

Most people aware of Goldratt’s book Critical Chain [2], but who are not really using in real life the principles laid out there (as I was myself guilty of for a long time), believe that TOC-Project Management is only about paying more attention to project resources by:

  • identifying them properly, and
  • managing them more realistically through the setting-up, tracking and protecting of buffers.

In a not too distant past life, I myself stated many times that the critical chain was our traditional critical path including resource constraints and availabilities into it….and that, consequently, the critical chain was always longer than the critical path. This is a very reducing view of what Goldratt wrote and promotes, a view shared, alas,by many project managers. It is also a view shared by many critical chain project management software providers, who added buffer management functionalities to the usual CPM [3] scheduling algorithms used in traditional PM software packages…and then called it a day!

In fact, what I am currently trying to discuss here in these blog entries, about organisational/cultural change constraints, is also discussed in Goldratt’s writings: those writings go beyond simple resources availability issues to also cover behavioural as well as buy-in (associated with the will to change) issues, among others. I am just trying here to put those writings in a different perspective, in order to apply them specifically to organisational/cultural change projects. I really believe that my main contribution here will be to clarify misconceptions about TOC as it applies to project management, as well as (maybe) add some original proposals to elevate buy-in to the level required to accelerate and succeed the realisation of organisational/cultural change projects.

For now, to make sure we all have the same understanding of TOC-Project Management, I would rather like to let the master and his direct followers speak for themselves. I thus invite you to read or read again Goldratt’s business novel, Critical Chain (as I will do again myself) and/or peruse the new version (2009) of the Goldratt Institute’s very complete white paper introducing Theory of Constraints Project Management [4]. Once you have done so, please feel free to comment here about what you found in those readings that talks about other things than simple resource availability issues.

In the next blog entry, I will (at last) share my vision on what are those simple resource availability issues and how to deal with them.

Stay tuned !

Don’t forget to leave your comments below

1. TOC = Theory of constraints (as developed by Goldratt)
3. CPM = Critical Path Method

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