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Good Books -- Critical Chain

If you liked Critical Chain, you probably noticed that if focuses primarily on methods for managing uncertainty in single, stand-alone projects. Very few software projects live in such an environment. For info on Critical Chain-based multi-project management, check out . . .

There's also a blog that expands on issues related to "The Goal" and "Critical Chain" at . . .

Come on by.

Frank Patrick
Tuesday, December 17, 2002

I was thinking about your posting on The Goal and Critical Chain. You're initial response to The Goal was all too typical, thinking it was about production management. The setting of the story is, yes, a manufacturing plant, but the message of the book is the five step meta-process for managing complex (organizational) systems, i.e., systems that require the support and participation of a number of inter-related components, departments, functions, processes, etc. The idea of identifying the system's constraint, and then managing the hell out of it until it is no longer the constraint -- or managing the system to maintain it as a strategic constraint with supporting players grown to support its growth --
-- is applicable in venues far more wide-ranging than only manufacturing.

It's application to software development falls most clearly into the management of the organization that is tasked to deliver multiple projects. The need to avoid overloading the organization's constraint -- to avoid trying to put 10 pounds of sh..., I mean 10 pounds of projects through a 5 pound pipeline -- becomes clear once the connections between overloaded systems (overloaded constraint) and excessive WIP and pressure to multi-task are understood. The TOC-based solution for multi-project management is closely related to the solution for production that is introduced (though not completely defined) in The Goal, but with special considerations for the far more important role of uncertainty and variation that is found in project work.

Frank Patrick
Monday, December 30, 2002

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