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Constraints Management

Learn how to find the limiting factor in any system


Every system is constrained in some way. The constraint or limiting factor determines the rate of growth, the expansion of the system or the accomplishment of the objective. The Theory of Constraints (TOC) shows how to find the limiting factor in any system and use that knowledge to make significant improvements to establish an ever-flourishing organization.

Constraints Management has a broad application for a variety of management problems. Combined with Lean and Six Sigma, it provides powerful tools for finding the problem, creating breakthrough solutions, and planning the implementation. Proven solutions are generated from applying the Theory of Constraints to a large number of real-world operational problems.

Topics include the following: The Five Focusing Steps, Decision Making using Throughput Economics, The Concepts of Flow, and specific TOC applications to manage the flow of inventories, processes and projects. The theoretical material is applied to cases in a variety of systems and organization types. Students will learn how to apply the concepts and tools in day-to-day situations and in a significant work-related application. 

Benefits of Constraints Management

Every improvement comes from a change, but not every change leads to an improvement. Therefore, it is important to discern the answers to 3 basic questions to create the kind of change that translates into improvement:

  • What to change? Students learn how to convert their intuition into logic, distinguish core causes from their effects, and identify the performance-limiting constraints.
  • To what to change? Students learn how to craft a robust solution that removes the limitation and blocks potential undesirable side effects.
  • How to cause the change? Transitioning from the current to the future state requires both planning and communication. Students will learn how to proactively identify obstacles and how  to overcome  them  as  the  basis  for  their  implementation  plan. They will also learn how to gain the active collaboration of the various stakeholders needed.


Students must successfully complete three courses (9 credit hours)

Graduate Certificate Programs

The ETM graduate certificate program allows students to complete shorter professional blocks of coursework relevant to their specific needs.

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Masters Program (METM)

The ETM program is specifically tailored for technical professionals who want to advance their careers while still working full time. METM Combines technical and business skill development meant for managing and leading engineering/ science/ technical teams, projects, and organizations.


Virtual Open House: Engineering and Technology Management

Are you considering a Master’s degree or seeking a graduate certificate? Join us for a conversation with our faculty experts and gain valuable insights into Washington State University’s Engineering and Technology Management (ETM) program.

Playing by the Numbers: An Introduction to Throughput Accounting by Lisa Scheinkopf

October 3, 2019 5:30 PM Online Register on Zoom Good managers use “the numbers” to quantify decisions and proposals. But what if there is a fundamental flaw in the way managers traditionally look at the numbers? A flaw that conditioning blinds us to, but that ultimately leads to decisions and recommendations that degrade the bottom line rather than […]


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