E M 526 Constraints Management

Course Description

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. This course introduces the engineering management student to the Theory of Constraints (TOC). Students learn how to find and the limiting factor in any system and use that knowledge to make significant improvements.

Improvement implies change. As we know, every improvement comes from a change, but not every change leads to an improvement. Therefore, the engineering manager must be able to discern the answers to 3 questions to tilt the odds in his or her favor to create the kind of change that translates into improvement:

  1. What to change? It begins with an understanding of The Goal of the system and identifying the limiting factor to achieving more of it. Students learn how to convert their intuition into logic, distinguish core causes from their effects, and identify the performance-limiting constraints.
  2. To what to change? Students learn how to craft a robust solution that removes the limitation and blocks potential undesirable side effects.
  3. 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.

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.

Faculty ContactLisa Scheinkopf
Semester Credits: 3
Location: Global Campus

Course meets at times posted via web conferencing software.

This course can be used to fulfill the following requirements:

Course Objectives

Students will gain a foundation in the theory of constraints, using its concepts and tools to improve their ability to think, focus, make decisions and communicate.

Learning Outcomes

Upon satisfactory completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Describe the purpose and goal of a business system
  • Understand the impact of their decisions and actions on the performance of the system in which they work
  • Execute the TOC Five Focusing Steps to improve the performance of a system
  • Utilize various TOC Thinking Process tools to solve day-to-day challenges
  • Utilize various TOC based methods to understand and gain collaboration from stakeholders when pursuing a change
  • Apply the TOC Thinking Processes systematically to a significant problem set and find the answers to the 3 questions of change: What to Change, To What to Change, and How to Cause the Change
  • Obtain a TOCICO Jonah Certificate of Recognition for the TOC Thinking Processes

Course Topics

  • Introduction to Theory of Constraints
  • The Goal of the Organization, The Goal of Your Job
  • Defining a System
  • Holistic Analysis of a System
  • Throughput, Inventory and Operating Expenses
  • Performance Measures
  • The 5 Focusing Steps of TOC
  • Applying the 4 Concepts of Flow
  • The TOC Thinking Process Tools
  • The 3 Questions of Change
  • The TOC Thinking Process Tools
  • Psychology of Change
  • Communicating for Collaboration
  • Case Studies & Guest Speakers

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