By reading the book “The Goal” (see my previous blog post), I had tasted blood. I wanted to know more about the Theory of Constraints (TOC), so I kept reading more business novels from Eli Goldratt like It’s Not Luck, Critical Chain, and Necessary But Not Sufficient. Those books contained nice diagrams of the problems and the respective solutions. However, I was not able to come up with such diagrams (so-called “clouds” and “logical trees”) myself. That was the realm of Jonah, the old Physics professor or TOC consultant. Eli Goldratt didn’t write too much about how to create such diagrams either. Possibly because his consulting company offered expensive courses on those topics 😉
But there were a few books that explained how to craft such diagrams, e.g. Thinking for a Change and Management Dilemmas. The most comprehensive one was Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints, written by Bill Dettmer (that’s him in the header image). This last book helped me a lot to get ahead on the learning curve, and once I got in direct contact with Bill Dettmer I knew that there was more to learn from him, so I arranged to take a personal coaching course with him. I booked a flight to the west coast and had two weeks of intensive training with Bill Dettmer in February, 2006. Those two weeks resulted in 1.) a deep understanding of the logical thinking processes of the TOC, 2.) a thorough understanding of my own business and its prospective future (e.g. see an example of a “current reality tree”), and 3.) a “Jonah” certificate.
If I’ve got you interested in the TOC – check out the books on our shelf on GoodReads.
A couple of years later, I collaborated with Bill Dettmer to organize a 3+3 days workshop about the Logical Thinking Processes in Austria which we repeated from 2008 until 2012 with me as his assistant during the practical sessions.
I think it is important now to point out my “meta program”:
- Once I stumble upon something potentially valuable, I immerse myself in the matter
- I try to understand who are the most-knowledgeable people, the experts
- I try to follow those experts and read what they publish
- I try to get in direct contact with them (social networks, personal conversation, conferences)
- I try to watch their talks and attend their workshops
- I try to bring the new knowledge into my own company, experiment with it, put it to practice.
- If it is still valuable after some time, I try to stay in touch with the experts and bring them to Austria so that more people at Catalysts can learn from them.
- I try to organize and host public workshops so that they can spread their knowledge and expertise among our friends, partners, and clients.
I have used that approach to “learn from the best” a couple of times already to learn about
- Scrum from Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland
- Lean Software Development from Mary Poppendieck
- The Responsibility Process from Christopher Avery
“It’s fantastic. True! Believe me!” 🙂