Safety Chats Podcast

Maximizing Output, Minimizing Risks: Unraveling the Dynamics of Systems

July 17, 2023 Season 2 Episode 20
Safety Chats Podcast
Maximizing Output, Minimizing Risks: Unraveling the Dynamics of Systems
Show Notes

In this episode, we explore the theory of constraints and its application to our work in identifying failures or potential failures in systems.

 The theory of constraints suggests that the total output of a system is limited by its most constraining element.  We apply this concept to various systems, such as flight departments, airlines, and maintenance departments, where constraints and capacities come into play. In technical systems like assembly lines, it's easier to optimize and adapt to constraints. However, in social systems involving human elements, adapting to constraints can lead to potential problems.

We discuss the five focusing steps of constraint theory:

  1. Decide how to exploit the system's constraints: Optimize the output of the constrained element within the constraints of human performance and other relevant factors.
  2. Subordinate everything else to the above decision: Adjust other elements within the system to align with the capacity of the constrained element, even if it means reducing output or adapting to the limitations - with Jason's asterisks "within human performance limitations."
  3. Elevate the system's constraints: Increase the capacity of the constrained element by adding resources, such as hiring more personnel or utilizing external sources.
  4. If the previous steps have resulted in a constraint being resolved, go back to step one: Continuously reassess the system and identify new constraints that may have emerged as a result of resolving previous constraints. 

Join us as we explore these concepts and strive to improve our understanding of systems and safety management.

Theory of Constraints by Eliyahu M. Goldratt
The Logical Thinking Process: A Systems Approach to Complex Problem Solving by  H. William Dettmer

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