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Mohit R Saxena

TOC Example of Five Focusing Steps

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To set the appetite let’s start with understanding what TOC is all about? TOC also known for Theory of constraint designed by Eliyahu M. Goldratt in his early 1984.


it is a concept that focus on constraint (restriction) which stopping the process from maximizing the its full potentials or in more layman terms restricting everyone from making any further improvement in cycle time, lead time, output or any other metrics within the process. Thanks to Mr. Goldratt as he also introduced five focus steps to eliminated or reduce the impact of constraint and make theory easy.


Let’s walk through these five steps and understand more about TOC by applying it on one of the common function that exist in most of the industry, supply chain management process.




In xyz company, the existing issue our Black belt facing is where he / she should focus to improve the existing process, the business gave the target to enhance existing productivity per user per day from 9.64 to 20 per user per day, which is quite difficult at its almost 107% improvement.


So Our black belt decided to apply TOC and solve the given problem by following five focus steps


Step 1: Identify the system constraint


There are many couple of tools available in market to map the process and understand what’s causing the delay such Crystal ball simulations, our BB decided to draw the simple process map to identified the active constrain.




It is observed that, process of making goods receipt note takes approx. 10 minutes on an average which is classified as active constraint.


Step 2: Exploit the system constraint


Exploiting is all about “making the most out of what you have”, so BB has try to exploit the constraint using followings;


Ø  Created enough inventory immediately in front of constraint to reduce idle time at constraint (keep him feeding)

Ø  Reduced errors in process before constraint as all rework will go through constrain again and affect the average cycle time

Ø  Ensured that the constraint is continuously scheduled for operation so productivity can enhanced


Step 3: Subordinate all else to the above decision


Primary objective is to focus on supporting the requirements of the constraint, in order to so BB had started Utilizing bandwidth available at non-constraint steps to support active constraint.


Step 4: Elevate the system constraint


The GRN creation process now supported by two agents instead one so that volume can be routed to two processors and improve productivity.


Step 5: Do not let inertia become the new constraint


The Five Focusing Steps are a continuous improvement cycle. Therefore, once a constraint is resolved the next constraint should immediately be addressed. This step is a reminder to never become complacent – aggressively improve the current constraint…and then immediately move on to the next constraint.


We have simplified the overall concept using only relevant components, however, TOC also covers TOC thinking elements such as throughput accounting. But may for beginners this could be appropriate examples to understand the concept.


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