Goldratt’s “Theory of Constraints” Thinking Processes – Part 1

A Systems Methodology linking Soft with Hard

by Victoria Mabin

In its brief 30-year history, Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints (TOC) methodology has evolved into a systems methodology that links elements of both soft and hard systems methods. The major component of TOC that underpins all the other parts of the methodology is the TOC Thinking Processes, a suite of logic trees that provide a roadmap for change. They guide the user through the decision making process of problem structuring, problem identification, solution building, identification of barriers to be overcome, and implementation of the solution. Tree-builders make recourse to a set of logic rules, which provide the analytical rigour usually associated with hard scientific approaches. This is combined with the ability to capture softer information and complexity provided by soft OR approaches. This paper briefly outlines the TOC methodology, and discusses the similarities and differences between TOC and other systems methods, particularly the Rational Model of decision-making.
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