God bless CEOs for resisting what consultants would love them to do

07 October 2017, Jelena Fedurko-Cohen 

This post reflects my thinking about the recent discussion on Linkedin and TOC Practitioners Worldwide about a suggested new type of constraint – “Human constraint”.  The new term was suggested by Angela Montgomery who published a post on TOC Learning and TOC4U titled: ‘The Human Constraint – What Is It?’

Angela wrote: “Ultimately, the human constraint, what prevents us from moving forward, is our ability to challenge and transform our thinking. We believe there is a structured, systemic and systematic way ahead”.

I will leave aside the convenience of calling what one thinks they have a solution to as a “constraint”.

I was wondering: HOW – what is the SPECIFIC MECHANISM – of DETECTING that AN INDIVIDUAL ABILITY to challenge and transform one’s thinking is the CONSTRAINT of that person?

Who can judge that? Based on what?

When we say that the company has a CAPACITY constraint for these and these products and a MARKET constraint for other products – there is a CLEAR mechanism to detect that.

To understand whether the system has a Capacity constraint or a Market constraint we compare the existing capacity and the amount of orders to fill in this capacity within a bucket of time. If the demand on capacity exceeds the existent capacity (not averaged, but real, per product) – we conclude that the system has the capacity constraint for those products. If the capacity exceeds the amount of orders – we conclude that the system has the market constraint for those products. The same system can alternate between capacity and market constraint for the same products depending on seasonality, etc.

Please note that the CONCLUSION of where the constraint is – in Capacity or in the Market – is made (and is MEANT to be made) by THE PEOPLE IN THE SYSTEM, NOT by an external consultant.

Let’s return to the suggested ‘Human Constraint’ – the ABILITY to challenge and transform one’s thinking.

What is going to be compared with what to make the CONCLUSION that MY CONSTRAINT is MY ABILITY TO CHALLENGE AND TRANSFORM MY THINKING?

Who will be making this conclusion? A consultant? HOW DOES A CONSULTANT KNOW THAT MY ABILITY TO CHALLENGE MY THINKING CONSTRAINTS ME? Constraints me as compared to what? To the CONSULTANT’S DESIRE OF WHAT I MUST THINK AND DO?

If MY constraint is MY ABILITY to challenge MY THINKING – then by definition I CANNOT THINK THAT I NEED TO CHANGE MY THINKING. So – I cannot come to the conclusion that it is MY CONSTRAINT. Then it is someone EXTERNAL who will announce that THIS is my constraint. And this someone will tell me how to exploit that little that I have. And will tell me how I must subordinate EVERYTHING ELSE TO WHAT THE CONSULTANT SAYS. Interesting…

If the CEOs or other decision makers in THEIR SYSTEMS reject what the consultants tell them to do – the CEOs are RIGHT!!

It is THEIR systems, it is to THEM – and NOT to the consultants! – that the owners of the systems gave the right, the authority and the RESPONSIBILITY to manage the systems on the owners’ behalf!

The CEOs resist ONLY when what the consultant offers is NOT PROFESSIONAL ENOUGH for THIS SYSTEM.

If the CEO does NOT AGREE to the problem, or direction of the solution, of the benefits, or that the negative outcomes will not appear, or that the solution is doable – the CEO IS RIGHT!


This is NOT the system of a consultant. By resisting, the CEOs PROTECT THEIR SYSTEMS FROM BEING DAMAGED.

And we did see the cases when consultants badly damage the systems.

And the last comment – quite often TOC consultants use Clouds to demonstrate to the stubborn CEOs how right the consultants are and how constrained in thinking the CEOs are. There is no wonder that the CEOs are not impressed – in most cases the logical connections demonstrated in such clouds do not stand a routine logical check.

Published by Jelena Fedurko-Cohen, 07 October 2017

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