How to Find Future Constraints


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I asked that question of Mike Dalton, the founder of Guided Innovation Group, whose simple mission is helping companies turn their new product innovation into bottom-line impact. The Guided Innovation System™, their unique TOC-based approach to rapid innovation improvement is helping companies slash time to market in half and nearly double new product profits. His book, , Simplifying Innovation: Doubling speed to market and new product profits – with your existing resources, is the first to apply the Theory of Constraints for high leverage innovation improvement.

Mike Answered :

That’s a really good question because that comes back to a critical point when you start to look at whether or not you should even begin focusing on the improvement in innovation in an organization. If the constraint is outside of your organization, referred to as a market constraint, we now have more capacity than the market requires.

Well, that is the place where it begins to make sense to try and look at our internal. Our internal innovation process and focus on how to drive improvement. If, on the other hand, there is more demand in the market than we have the capacity to supply, then I tell most companies, you really shouldn’t focus on innovation, in improving innovation and I am talking about innovation from a new product standpoint, new service standpoint.

Related Podcasts and Transcription:  Theory of Constraints in Innovation

That is not where you should focus your improvement effort. Clearly, your improvement effort should be focused on how we drive more capacity, more manufacturing capacity from our organization.

So if indeed, the constraint is outside of the company and it is a market constraint, we don’t have enough demand then we need to take a look at our innovation process, and that starts all the way, from the very beginning what they call the fuzzy front end of innovation.

Being out in the market place and finding opportunities, moves through assessing the opportunity testing feasibility of the opportunity then developing the solution to the unmet need or problem that you found in the market place, scale up and then all the way to commercially launching and marketing the new product.

So, it really is an end to end process and that’s the process that we have to look for where is the constraint in that process. That is what’s going to drive improvement and many times; it makes sense to keep the…

It actually makes sense to keep the constraints in one particular place. Some organizations… I have worked with some organizations that have large pilot plants where they produce ball samples, as well as initial prototypes and even sometimes the first few production batches are produced in a pilot plant, and that can be a very big investment.

So sometimes it makes sense to actually use that as the pace that the pilot plant can work at as the constraint or the leverage point for the rest of the product development process.

In other cases, it may end up being a development group or it may end up being a testing, part of the testing that goes on within the product development process. It is really very dependent on each and every organization as to which one makes the most sense, but that is really what we mean by a constraint.

Related Podcasts and Transcription:  Theory of Constraints in Innovation

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.


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