Saturday, July 3, 2010

Theory of Constraints 2 Laws of Leadership

July 4th makes me think of being patriotic and that makes me think of the military and the military makes me think of our great leaders. So I did a little internet surfing on leadership.

In a Google search there were 154,000,000 results for the word leadership. On the National Speakers Association's website there are 650 speakers who are experts on Leadership.

I don't know about you, but as an engineer and NOT a very touchy feely kind of person, I have trouble relating to all the discussion on leadership.

I don't have anything against leadership or the people who speak on it or write about it (there are tons of those people and some of them are my friends), I just don't see what the big deal is.

Theory of Constraints is about focus, so assuming you are focused.  There are only 2 things - guiding principles if you will -- that a leader or manager needs to keep in mind.  I call them the Theory of Constraints 2 Laws of Leadership:

1) Don't be a sissy!

2) Just do it!

Any leader, who is bold about what they want and goes after it without apology and with perseverance, has my attention. And if this direction is delivered in a respectful way, they have my respect. I will follow where they lead. (Am I alone here?)

Now that sounds easy, probably too easy. So let's apply it. Don't be a sissy means - don't let old patterns, past ways of doing things, and failures stop you from finally getting 99+% on time all the time, reducing lead-time, and from dramatically reducing chaos or whatever your goals are.

Pick a technique, a philosophy, or anything that you think might get you closer to your goals. And realize that if you want improvement, you have to DO SOMETHING different. It is also true that not all change is improvement, so select carefully, but DO make a selection.

I once told a client who wanted to do an incentive program (which generally I'm against) that I didn't care if they wanted to bring clowns in on Fridays - but to DO SOMETHING.

Now, I'm partial to my programs and Theory of Constraints for the "something to do" - but even if you don't go with the changes I recommend, you will get some improvement simply by doing something and sticking with it.

For example GE chose Six Sigma as the horse they would ride. I can tell you why that may not be the best overriding philosophy, and how they could get better results by using Theory of Constraints to direct their Six Sigma efforts (see 2 articles below), but the reality is that they did improve by making the selection and sticking to it.

Don't be a sissy also means don't make excuses and don't blame anyone but yourself for the results you get or don't get.

It is our job as managers to put systems and processes in place that get the results we want. Our systems and processes comprise the policies, procedures and measures that direct our peoples' actions. If you're not getting the results you want, just look in the mirror.

Don't listen to the voice in your head or to your employee's who say:
  • "that will never work"
  • "we already tried that, and it doesn't work here"
  • "you don't understand ..."
And one other thing that "don't be a sissy" means is that if you make a mistake, chose wrong, or fail - then get over it and find what IS going to work.

This is NOT in conflict with my prior statement of "sticking with it". I find that people either 1) don't try something long enough to see if it's going to work - they get distracted by the next new shiny thing; or 2) they stick with it forever despite the poor results.

I'm suggesting a rational balance between the two. And a good way to do that is to decide ahead of time what success and failure look like, then do everything to can to make whatever you decided to do a success.

If you want better results you are going to have to do things differently. Simply decide WHAT you're going to do and just do it.

Next time, I'll dive into the Theory of Constraints second Law of Leadership -- "Just do it!"

Wishing you unsissified success and a happy July 4th,   (Please post your thoughts and comments to this post.)
Dr Lisa

P.S. Here are links to 2 articles on the subject of Theory of Constraints and Six Sigma: and (this one includes Lean)

P.P.S Check out if you have a custom job shop and need to reduce time through your shop, get on-time and reduce chaos.  This is a coaching program to help implement what you read in the Theory of Constraints book The Goal by Eliyahu M Goldratt.  WARNING:  This is NOT training, this is a go and do program. 

P.P.P.S Download the "9 Challenges to Scheduling Your Job Shop and Why Your Schedule is Dead on Arrival" special report here:

(c)Copyright 2010, Dr Lisa, Inc. All rights reserved.


Anonymous said...

Surely you don't really believe that those two things are all there is to leadership...?

Dr Lisa Lang said...

Hi John,
No that's not ALL there is to it. I over simplified to make the point that it's not always as complicated as we seem to make it.

Many of the things that good leaders do though could probably be categorized as following one of those 2 laws.

Dr Lisa

Clinton said...

Under the context of "The Goal", to make money now and in the future, these two rules make perfect sense.

The purpose of TOC is to find efficient positive change. Change requires applying a force against an inertial body. The larger the inertial body, the larger the "force" required to impart the desired change. How should this large "force" be imparted to the company's inertia?

As we know with large forces, if the force is too large, the entity that experiences the force can break or shear (i.e. negative human-resouce effects).

What does this tell us?
A. It tells us that the company and its individual components must be resilient (i.e. not brittle).
B. That the magnitude of the force that can be applied without breaking the system is limited by the resiliency of its individual parts (people) and the structure holding those parts together (company culture).

1. Don't be a sissy. Will a sissy be able to impart large forces to an organization? Usually no.

2. Just do it. Yes, deliberate and calculated change must happen or the company will become irrelevant because of competitors.

Anonymous said...

Consider this Lisa, leadership may be a non-word. One of the things I like about TOC is how scientific it is. TOC either leads to more profitability and flexibility, or it does not. I believe it does. Then Goldratt starts to use "fuzzy" terms when things were going so well. Why didn't Goldratt properly define leadership, and its causes?

How do we know that leadership exists? Cross functional processes produce their outputs to exemplary standards. It is not the charisma of the manager or even whether employees choose to model the manager's behavior. It is all the things we do to make sure the process (and performers) stay on track amid all the variation of suppliers, customers, markets, equipment, government, etc. This is a more operational definition, one that we can tell if it is working or not.

Tom G said...

Leadership has several popular definitions – here are two: 1) If you have people following you, you are a leader; 2 ) Marcus Buckingham defines Leadership as having the fortitude to envision and maintain a constant pull to that envisioned better future better future despite the obstacles.

If I follow your two laws, I achieve number 2 not necessarily number one - it is necessary but not sufficient. I assume that as you have stated your targets, you also have the necessary conditions that underlie them...i.e a body count at the end of the day is unacceptable.

sreade123 said...

Sorry, it's more like the Two Cliches of Leadership. Newtons' Laws of Gravity tell me what will happen IF I do something. Yours tell nothing.

My Two Laws of Leadership are:

1. Leaders accomplish things ... talk (lay-out the Plan, Direction, Goal and Outcome when you reach that goal. As one wag put it ... a leader tells you he/she is taking you into the Jaws of Hell, and makes you look forward to the trip.

2. Leaders expect to take hits and must be prepared to accomplish the mission or get crushed in the process ... it's an all-or-nothing proposition either in the Board Room or on the Battlefield (just ask our troops about good leadership).

By comparison, I'd say (modestly of course) that my Laws of Leadership have a bit more substance; a bit more meat on their bones.

Best wishes,

Dr Lisa Lang said...

A physical law or scientific law like Newton's Law of Gravity is a scientific generalization based on empirical observations of physical behaviour. It does not necessarily tell you what will happen if you do something, but many times they do. Laws of nature are observable. Scientific laws are empirical, describing observable patterns. The production of a summary description of our environment in the form of such laws is a fundamental aim of science.

Dr Lisa

Dr Lisa Lang said...

Tom G,

One may not be able to "Just do it!" if people don't or won't follow them.

Dr Lisa

Dr Lisa Lang said...

I received this email with a summary of military leadership from Jim:

Military leadership is the process of influencing others to accomplish the mission by providing purpose, direction, and motivation.
Command is the authority a person in the military service lawfully exercises over subordinates by virtue of his rank and assignment or position.

The basic responsibilities of a leader are: Accomplishment of the mission and the welfare of the soldiers.

The most fundamental and important organizational technique used by military is the chain of command.

The chain of command is the sequence of commanders in an organization who have direct authority and primary responsibility for accomplishing the assigned unit mission while caring for personnel and property in their charge.

A military leader has three types of duties:
-Specified duties
-Directed duties
-Implied duties


Dr Lisa Lang said...

The Professional Military Ethic is:
-Loyalty to the nation, the Military, and the unit
-Selfless service

Selfless service is defined as putting the needs and goals of the nation, the Military, your unit and your soldier ahead of your personal needs and interest.

The four individual values that all soldiers are expected to possess are:
-Courage: overcoming fears of bodily harm and doing your duty (physical courage), and overcoming fears of other than bodily harm (moral courage) while doing what ought to be done
-Candor: is being frank, open, honest, and sincere with your soldiers, seniors and peers
-Competence: is proficiency in required professional knowledge, judgment, and skills
-Commitment: means the dedication to carry out all unit missions and to serve the values of the unit, Military, and the country

The four actions that should be taken in assuming a new leadership position are:
-Determine what is expected of your unit
-Determine what is expected of you
-Determine the strengths and weaknesses of your subordinates
-Determine what other key people whose willing support is necessary to accomplish your job


Dr Lisa Lang said...

The four indicators of unit effectiveness are:
-MORALE: A person's state of mind
-ESPRIT DE CORPS: Pride in unit, enthusiasm for unit, and loyalty to unit
-DISCIPLINE: Prompt obedience to orders and initiation of action in the absence of orders
-PROFICIENCY: The unit's ability to accomplish the mission

The factors of leadership are: The Led, the Leader, the situation, and communications.
There are 23 Traits of Character:
Bearing, Confidence, Courage, Integrity,
Decisiveness, Justice, Endurance, Tact,
Initiative, Coolness, Maturity, Improvement,
Will, Assertiveness, Candor, Sense of Humor,
Competence, Commitment, Creativity, Self-discipline,
Humility, Flexibility, Empathy/Compassion.

There are eleven principles of good leadership:
-Be tactically and technically proficient
-Know yourself and seek self-improvement
-Know your soldiers and look out for their welfare
-Keep your soldiers informed
-Set the example
-Ensure the task is understood, supervised and accomplished
-Train your soldiers as a team
-Make sound and timely decisions
-Develop a sense of responsibility in your subordinates
-Employ your unit in accordance with its capabilities
-Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions


Dr Lisa Lang said...

Leadership Principles are used as general rules which have guided the actions and conduct of successful leaders in the past.

The decision-making process is a conscious process for selecting a course of action from two or more alternatives for the purpose of achieving a desired result.

The principle forces you should consider when making an ethical decision are:
-Legal standards
-Basic national values
-Traditional Military values
-Actual Military values
-Individual values
-Institutional Pressures

The seven steps in the decision-making process are:
-Identify the problem
-Gather information
-List courses of action
-Analyze and compare courses of action
-Make a decision; Select a course of action
-Make a plan
-Implement the plan

Professionalism is important in the military for two significant reasons. First, the military leader is a public servant responsible for the defense of the nation. Second, the military organization is often responsible for the life of its soldiers.


Dr Lisa Lang said...

The four leadership indicators are: Morale, Esprit de Corps, Discipline, and Proficiency.
The three different styles of leadership are Directing, Participating, and Delegating.
Actions that good leaders avoid are: Violation of dignity to individuals, mass punishment or ridicule of the troops, hurry-up and wait formations and similar drills that waste time, resting before his men, shirking the responsibility of checking his men's position, blaming the next higher in command for a rough and unsuccessful mission, blaming subordinates for a squad's failure in satisfactorily completing a specific mission, eating before his men have eaten, favoritism and moral weakness.
A good leader must have a thorough knowledge of command essentials. The command essentials are: Command policies, authority, responsibility, chain of command and other channels, military rank, military discipline and conduct, and the enlisted aspects of command.

A leader must be, know and do. Defined, this means:
A leader must BE:
-A person of strong and honorable character
-Committed to the professional Military ethic
-An example of individual values
-Able to resolve complex ethical dilemmas
A leader must KNOW:
-The four factors of leadership and how they affect each other
-Human nature
-His/Her job
-His/Her unit


Dr Lisa Lang said...

A leader must DO:
-Provide direction
-Provide purpose
-Provide motivation
A leader provides direction by:
-Knowing and maintaining standards
-Setting goals
-Making decisions and solving problems
-Supervising and evaluating

One of the essentials of leadership is to seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions. Defined, this means to take the initiative in the absence of Orders and accept the responsibility for your actions.

Three factors which tend to shape personality are Heredity, Environment, Experience.
Supervision is keeping a grasp on the situation and ensuring that plans and policies are implemented properly, including giving instructions and continuously inspecting the accomplishment of a task.

The danger of too little supervision is that it can lead to miscommunications, lack of coordination, disorganization or the perception by subordinates that the leader does not care.
The danger of too much supervision is that it stifles the initiative, breeds resentment, and lowers morale and motivation.

Morale is the mental, emotional, and spiritual state of mind of an individual. It is how a soldier feels. High morale strengthens courage, energy and the will to fight.

Esprit is the spirit, the soul, and the state of mind of a unit that the soldier identifies with.
Bearing is an individual’s posture, overall appearance and manner physical movement. It is an outward display to others of the state of your inner feelings, fear and overall inner confidence.

Integrity is the utter sincerity, honesty and candor. It is the avoidance of any kind of deceptive, shallow, or expedient behavior.
Justice is the fair treatment of all people regardless of race, religion, color, sex, age, or national origin.


Dr Lisa Lang said...

Tact is a sensitive perception of people, their values, feelings, and views which allows positive interaction.

An unselfish leader is one who avoids providing for his own comfort and advancement at the expense of others.

Proficiency as it applies to military leadership means the technical, tactical, and physical ability of the individual and the unit.

Ethics are rules or standards that guide a individual or a group to do the moral or right thing.

Some of the pressures to be unethical are:
-Pressure from self-interest
-Pressure from peers
-Pressure from subordinates
-Pressure from a senior

Formal norms are official standards or laws that govern behavior.

Informal norms are unwritten rules or standards that govern the behavior of group members.

Military Discipline is the prompt and effective performance of duty in response to orders or taking the right action in the absence of orders. A disciplined unit forces itself to do its duty in any situation.

The principles that help ensure good discipline are (but are limited to):
-Ensure norms which contribute to discipline are established and strengthened
-Set high, but realistic, standards in all things that relate to the success of your unit in training and war
-When your standards are not met, analyze the situation and decide on a course of action for handling the situation

Values are attitudes about the worth or importance of people, concepts or things
Beliefs are assumptions or convictions that an individual knows to be true regarding people, concepts or things.

You, as a leader, can influence the beliefs and values of your soldiers by setting the example; by rewarding behavior that supports professional beliefs, values, and norms, and by planning and conducting tough individual and collective training.

In order to influence the beliefs and values of your soldiers you must respect your soldiers and have their respect.


Dr Lisa Lang said...

The four emotions that you, as a leader, must inspire in yourself and your soldiers that will combat fear, panic and stress are confidence, purpose, meaning, and self-respect.

Communication is the exchange or flow of information and ideas from one person to another.

There are fourteen motivational principals, They are:
-Make the needs of individuals in your unit coincide with the unit tasks and missions
-Reward individual and team behavior that support unit tasks and missions
-Counsel or punish soldiers who behave in a way that is counter to unit tasks, missions an standards
-Set the example in all things
-Develop morale and esprit in your unit
-Give your subordinates tough problems and challenge them to wrestle with them
-Have your subordinates participate in the planning of upcoming events
-Alleviate causes of the personal concerns of your soldiers so that soldiers can concentrate on their jobs
-Ensure your soldiers are properly cared for and have the tools they need to succeed
-Keep your soldiers informed about mission and standards
-Use positive peer pressure to work for you and your unit
-Avoid using statistics as a major method of evaluating units and motivating subordinates
-Make the jobs of your subordinates as challenging, exciting and meaningful as possible
-Do not tolerate any form of prejudicial talk or behavior in your unit

The two types of authority are command authority and general military authority.

The nine leadership competencies are:
Teaching and counseling
Soldier team development
Technical and tactical proficiency
Decision making
Use of available systems
Professional ethics

(That completes the email from Jim on Military Leadership. These are his notes from FM 6-22 Army Leadership(new )and Fm 22-100 Army Leadership(old))

Anonymous said...

This is very good post on military interdependent elements of leadership where there is an accepted chain of command and accountability with discipline has been adopted from another type of leadership called servant leadership that was first modeled by Jesus...not trying to apostatize anyone but the idea is to have people follow you because they want to not because they have to. This is done by showing a caring intent and respect for others…not being a sissy fits this idea. The word sissy denotes fearfulness of being judged by others when you are not so popular… I respectfully disagree with the others and I think your concise explanation is dead on…
Dave Outlaw

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