Visual Thinking with Theory of Constraints – Version 1.1.0 released today

A new version of my software to support the TOC thinking processes was released today. The improvements will soon come to the IBIS and Concept Map variants as well.

Key changes are the keyboard controls and spellchecker. If you want to learn more about the software then have a look at the dedicated page for the software.


Storytelling in a Nutshell

I came across this great infographic regarding storytelling.

Storytelling in a Nutshell
The Clues to a Great Story

Why do I like it? It’s visual, and it puts a structure on something that you know implicitly yourself but you might not have found the pattern.


In case you want to know more, I suggest that you read The Hero with a thousand Faces. But be warned, it’s a tough read, simply because it is now (due to this book?) so obvious.


Goals and Measures

Let’s look at goals and how a good measure is supportive to the goal. I will connect a few things that I have learned over time.

Andrey Salomatin writes about Theory of Constraints (TOC) and applies it to Software development. So far, he has 3 articles:  Systems thinking in management and Work hard enough and you won’t finish anything and I bet you look good on the plant floor. Well worth reading.

However, the one that really triggered me thinking was the first: Systems thinking in management. I am not sure whether I ever thought about it before, but he has a nice phrase in his article:

Goal has nothing to do with System’s internals. Look for it outside of the System.

One of his examples (he has more) is an airplane. Airplanes don’t exists to fly (internal), they exists in order to let people travel fast from A to B (outside). Good one. But he got further. He was describing a situation where misaligned measures are contra productive to the goal of the system. Measure get misaligned when internal goals are prioritised over external goals.  Instead of using his example would I like to describe the story that I heard earlier and that made this article so relevant to me.

I once was on an Enterprise Architecture conference where I was lucky enough to listen to Roger Burton. He told a story about a global manufacturing company that was his client (he didn’t provide a name but a hint that we would all know it). The board of that manufacturer wanted to reduce the time from the order until the customer got the ordered goods.  For some 2 years all the programmes to improve that time didn’t help. He was looking at the problem from a measure perspective. His philosophie behind that was the simple “mantra”:

You get the process you are measuring.

So, people will adjust their processes in order to improve the measures. If your salary is connected to a measure, wouldn’t you do the same?

What were the measures in Roger’s example?

  • Sales team members got a bonus for every order coming in in the last 2 days of the month (one can easily imagine how this one started). This meant that sales people whenever possible delayed the order in order to get it placed at the end of month (reinforcing the perceived need for this incentive). Result? First delay for the customer.
  • Production team was measured on costs. How do you drive down costs? Increase batch size! So, production team was delaying production of goods in order to increase batch size.
  • The next one was internal logistic, it was a global manufacturer after all, so unfinished goods needed to be send regularly between plants. How do you drive down logistic costs? Fill the truck/container. What was logistics measure on? Cost. Does waiting to fill the container improve total turnover time?

He only named these 3, but I can easily see how other departments were working against misaligned goals, too. Roger’s story ended with the comment that the board was seeing improvements quickly once the measures were aligned with the goal of the company, to reduce order-to-delivery time.

Align your measures with your goals. The goal is not within your department. Not even within your company. If you want to make money by selling, you are already misaligned. Your customer’s benefits are what you need to measure against. Which, interestingly enough, was the topic of my previous post.

By the way, I found Andrey’s articles through my current favourite blog, Knowledge Jolt with Jack.

Whose success do I worry about?

I found a little gem to share: It’s a simple twist that changes your perspective. Think about your customers needs, not your needs if you want to succeed in the long run.

On a related note, sometimes I observe the same mentality within a company where I see decisions made that seem to serve personal interest more than the interests of the company.  It seems to have less negative impact as these people tend to change their customer base completely whenever they are switching jobs.

Visual Thinking with Theory of Constraints

I am a big fan of Theory of Constraints (TOC). I read the book “The Goal” years ago – actually after I was presented the great application “Flying Logic”. Ever since then was I wondering why Flying Logic is so expensive. It is such a great tool and so applicable to many kind of issues – but simply too expensive. When I was starting with the Visual Thinking for IBIS application did i have Flying Logic in mind. I wanted a Mac tool that is similar to Flying Logic, but easier to use.

I have now done a big step in that direction. I have released the first version of “Visual Thinking with Theory of Constraints“. It is an early release as the visual language is more complex and will need some adjustments. Next problem is that TOC has several different diagram types and the app needs to cater for it. But, I have a workable first version.

Please add comments to the project page.

Visual Thinking with IBIS


I released the first version of my IBIS notation editor to the Mac App Store today. Over the next weeks will I need to polish it and beautify the supporting material like screenshots, etc. But have a look here:

So what is IBIS? I found this page as an introduction. The same author did one more blog on the topic. The author (Chris Tomich) did a good job. If you want to understand more, read the book from Paul Culmsee and Kailash Awati.

I disabled the comments for this blog post. Please comment on the software page

A useful Benefit Realisation Approach


I have added a page regarding Benefit Realisation into my Visual Thinking Library.

I am deliberately keeping this entry short for the sake of not splitting the discussion into two (for this blog entry and the linked page). I consider the linked page the main entry and I will have another blog entry in case I change it.

Redesigning my Site

Please notice that this page is undergoing some changes. Old content will be a made available again once all the under the hood changes are complete.

I have changed from Rapidweaver to a WordPress blog. So far I am very happy about this change but it comes along with a quite some manual work. At the same time I am making some conceptional changes in order for the content to be presented in a way that I like better – and I hope you too.

Please let me know what you think so far.

[Update] Interesting enough this isn’t the first move of my site. In September 2012 I had the entry below. RapidWeaver was quite an disappointment after some years of slow updates that only costed a lot of money for no real benefit. And I just looked at my old blog. It still exists. Interesting. But here the old entry.

I started using RapidWeaver for this webpage (previously I used iWeb and Blogger) and I am in the process of transferring the content from my old blog page here. Therefore some content will be missing here for some time.

Unfortunately, this is a manual process that will take some time. In the meanwhile have a look at my old blog page:

Why did I switch? Unfortunately, iWeb is no longer supported. And I wanted to make some changes that iWeb didn’t support. After some analysis I decided on RapidWeaver is the best available solution for me. One of the biggest problems that I faced during the change was that I wanted to keep the minimalistic style from my old web page. Thankfully, there is ThemeFlood. ThemeFlood showed the way and the further adoption was reasonable easy.