Sample research paper on the theory of constraints and TQM

The ‘Theory of Constraints’ was initially described, in the early years of 1980s, by Eli Goldratt and since been utilized extensively in the industry. The Theory of Constraints comprises a distinctive set of enquiry techniques and tools that can specifically raise vital questions relating to systems of concerns. Moreover, it focuses on the constraints present in the systems to support managers in gaining knowledge and understanding. Any planned and well-organized enquiry primarily comprises frameworks and ideas, methodology as well as area of application. The basic framework of the Theory of Constraints is that any system, in fact, includes a series of mutually supporting elements joined collectively joined as a chain for a typical and common purpose. It is, in fact, the weakest link purely serving as a constraint, preventing the entire system from achieving its objectives. (Goldratt, 1999)

Due to the constraints, the initial assumption of the theory is that each system possesses some constraints that could be physical such as resource or market constrains. The constraints could also be behavioral such as technology, resistance to change and knowledge. Moreover, the constraints could be related to policy such as guideline or regulations.

The theme of viewing any type of system simply as a chain of elements, while the weakest links specifically as a constraint facilitates the managers to discriminate elements of constraints from non-constraints elements. If the elements can be regarded as resources in an organization, managers have to associate the performance measurements in an organization’s level across operations to its international goal for the purpose of ensuring that all available resources have been used efficiently and effectively. The rationale of reality can be perceived by applying the explanation of ‘effect-cause-effect. This subsequently directs to the second assumption of the TOC. In this assumption, a common sense can be derived by utilizing an effect-cause-effect explanation. (Goldratt, 1999)

The third assumption of the ‘Theory of Constraints’ is that the people present in the system have the ultimate intuition that is essential to define not only problems but solutions. This particular feature enables managers to design new, substantive and original knowledge regarding system of concern with no oppressive power from the top level. (Goldratt, 1999)

The Theory of Constraints supports managers to narrate problems in the real world as well as within the discipline. TOC is applied in real world by using TOC methodology. The methodology can be described as a set of inquiry principles to guide how the frameworks and ideas are applied to arrive at the solutions in the real world. The methodology comprises five steps used specifically as decision procedures to; identify the constraints of systems; deciding how to explore the constraints of a system; subordinate each and everything else to the conclusion made in Step-2; elevate the constraints of system; and if a constraints has been broken in the previous steps, revert to step-1, but in no case inertia is to be allowed for causing a constraint in the system. (Dettmer, 1997)

TQM Model

TQM is a collection of processes, techniques, best practices and principles that have been proven effective over time. Most of the global world-class firms reveal the majority of behaviors, typically related and identified with TQM. As such it is pertinent to present a specific TQ model to the leadership so they can incorporate it into the strategic planning process of the organization.

The TQM model commences with understanding the needs of customers. Organizations with TQM have processes that collect and analyze customer information on regular basis. Most of the activities in this regard are extended to gain knowledge about competitors’ customers. The developing of an in-depth understanding of entire customer needs facilitates TQM firms to predict and anticipate future behavior of customers.

In the next step of the TQM model, the TQM organizations specifically integrate entire knowledge gained about the customers with different other information and subsequently utilize the planning process to organize action in the firm for managing routine activities, ultimately accomplishing future goals. It is essential to review the plans at periodic intervals and tailor them as required. The entire planning process acts as glue that supports entire TQM activity.

TQM organizations are intimately aware that customers are only satisfied on receiving products and services that continuously meet their expectations. Moreover, products and services are delivered when anticipated as well as priced for value. The organizations using TQM employ tools of process management to build cost-controlled processes which are not only stable but also capable of meeting customers’ expectations.

It is essential for the TQM organizations to understand that the distinctive performances in the today’s competitive world may not be regarded as acceptable performance in the future. As such they use the themes of process improvement for the purpose of achieving breakthrough gains as well as continuous improvement.

The final step of the TQM model is branded as total participation. It is obligatory for the TQM organizations to absolutely understand that entire work is performed particularly through people. This commences with leadership. Top management, in TQM organizations, assumes personal responsibility for employing, refining and nurturing entire TQM activities. They ensure that people are trained properly, competent, and participate actively in accomplishing organizational success. Employees and management should work together in establishing an empowered environment in which people are valued. It is essential that all elements of TQM model, discussed above, should work jointly to achieve desired results.

The Theory of Constraints and TQM Model

In today’s competitive world, every manager is confronted with the issue that how TQM can impact the profitability and competitive edge of the firm in a better way. The foremost reality present in the competitive environment is that; TQM as a distinctive way to accomplish goal has to ensure that the organization is capable of satisfying its customers. The subsequent reality focuses on the objectives set by TQM to address the profitability issues.

It is necessary for the managers to resolve the complexities associated directly with the profitability and accelerating the pace at which the organization succeeds. To evaluate the influence of competitive edge on the element of profitability, performance measurements are required by the managers. Any particular endeavor to improve the competitiveness of TQM that is primarily based on expectations and needs of customers should be evaluated in relation with the performance criteria.

The customer function is primarily responsible for narrating the performance criteria that directly affect the profitability, such as extra market share or increased revenue. The performance criteria should be treated as the bottom line outcomes. Consequently, managers can employ entire TQM endeavors on the bottom line that facilitates the organization’s capability for improving both current as well as future throughput. It is evident from the arguments presented above that there are two primary contributions made by the Theory of Constraints to the TQM model. They are the focusing process and performance measurements.

The utilization of quality management specifically as a competitive edge is mostly dependent on the ability of managers to cultivate their perceptions to answer and explore the primary questions that can ultimately lead to basic quantum leap resolutions to real problems, as such; the Theory of Constraints and the self-reflective diagnosis have simultaneous consequences for the managers.

The intuition role is pertinent to derive effective rational models in stimulating TQM endeavors. The self-reflective diagnosis, in fact, enables managers to challenge, criticize and invent their intuition. Using Theory of Constraints, managers can place trust on the verified rational models, utilizing them to identify outmoded policies and novel concepts to improve operations.

In the present dynamic and competitive world, managers should explore on the ways how Theory of Constraints can be utilized to generate actionable knowledge that initiates eternal alterations in the status quo. Employees and managers, to defeat the resistance to change, should drop stereotypes, establish new rational paradigms, reprogram entire logical maps and be flexible in dealing with change in environment. Performance measures, process improvement and process management should focus on how to inspire the major players to make implementation of TQM a top priority.

The Theory of Constraints can provide real performance measures as well as the focus lacking in TQM model to be included in the strategic planning process of the organization. TOC also provides a robust framework for reviewing the significant problems of mental and intuition paradigms in the TQM area. Managers of the organization should consider TOC concept for self-reflective diagnosis, especially to ensure that TQM efforts must contribute in achieving the goals set in the strategic plan of the organization and accomplishing customer satisfaction simultaneously.



Dettmer, W.H (1997) Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints: A Systems Approach to Continuous

Improvement. ASQ Quality Press.

Goldratt, E. M (1999) Theory of Constraints. North River Press