This is the second post in a series in preparation for my presentation at the Lean Kanban Netherlands 2012 conference, about Enhanced Risk Management in Kanban via the Theory of Constraints, that I will deliver on October 26 in Utrecht. As described in the previous post, Critical Chain Project Management in the Theory of Constraints, the purpose of this series is propaedeutic to understanding how the ideas of the Theory of Constraints can be applied in contemporary software processes, and in particular to Kanban for Software. This series will provide some foundational knowledge in the areas of:
- Schedule Management
- Buffer Management
- Risk Management
- Root Cause Analysis
- People Factors
- Continuous Improvement
The previous post introduced Schedule Management; in this post we will learn
more about Buffer Management and Risk Management.
The principal idea of the Theory of Constraints is the simple concept that there is always one constraint that limits the throughput of any system (the “weakest link of the chain”). It is not a surprise that all risk management practices revolve around finding and managing the constraint too.
“Herbie” was a character in “The Goal” [GOLDRATT-1992] — the business novel where the Theory of Constraints was first described. Herbie was a little boy, albeit overweight; and he was the cause of a line of young scouts moving slowly on a hike. Herbie’s rise to fame is that he represented the first constraint that the main character of the novel, Alex Rogo, managed to identify.
Since then, “Finding Herbie” is a colloquial way of saying: “Let’s find the constraint.”
Quite obviously, finding the constraint is very important in the TOC; but it is not always obvious how you can find your Herbie! Using a Kanban board can help identify constraints in your work flow, but it is of limited value in finding constraints in your overall process. We will discover how to do the latter.