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Blog 175: Constraints and Bottlenecks

Updated: May 12, 2022

You are driving along the highway. Everything is going smoothly when suddenly you come to a complete stop. You are now impossibly ensnared, four lanes of traffic bumper to bumper for as far as you can see.

Clearly, something is wrong, a horrible accident. You hope nobody is hurt, and you also hope they get this cleared up right away.

They don’t … You sit and simmer in the summer sun, your time, ever precious, draining away.

You have three days ahead of you, a long weekend, a vacation day, and whatever the problem is up ahead it has just caused you to miss the afternoon wherever it is you are heading. The whole reason you did all this maneuvering in the first place is now shot down in flames. You are stuck in traffic.

Two long hours later, you arrive at the source of the constraint. For two hours, you have been wondering what grizzly sight you will discover. Luckily, but also predictably enough, instead of a wreck you discover a car pulled over on the side of the road, with a handmade sign on the roof, a ‘tented’ piece of cardboard. With a Sharpie marker, the driver, who is sitting in his car, has written “GAS?”

Doofus ran out of gas and had to pull over, and as a result there has been a two-hour traffic jam that won’t be solved until somebody gets that car out of there.

Constraints are cancer.

Constraints get bigger, spread and result in more and more complications. They must be taken seriously and tackled with purpose and determination.

Constraints cause bottlenecks. They negatively affect flow, causing all kinds of friction and delay as things get stuck, jammed up, and ultimately stalled, waiting for the constraint to be fixed.

Your business and your life burn resources, and those resources are TIME, ENERGY, and MONEY.

Until you are INSPIRED enough to INNOVATE and change the way you operate to solve your constraints, you will continue to suffer and fail to ACCELERATE.

Constraints can cause people to feel hopeless and lost. They suffer frustration constantly. You can feel overwhelmed trying to figure out where to start – a common mistake that we make when we identify a constraint is to try to do even more.

“I’m going in early, I’m staying late. I’m working through the weekend.” These are all just other ways of saying, “I’m forcing it.”

Don’t work harder.

Slow down, stop if you can.

Eliminate activities. Find and focus on your core capabilities.

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