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DRAWING THE LINE BETWEEN THEORY OF CONSTRAINTS AND SIX SIGMA

The Theory of Constraints and the Six Sigma approaches are two of the most popular and most widely-accepted and practiced management paradigms.  Some principles of the TOC run parallel to some of the basic tenets of Six Sigma.  First, both paradigms believe that root causes of problems in the company or organization should be understood with a logical and rational approach.  Second, both paradigms highlight the crucial role of top-line performance to the overall growth and progress of the company.  Third, both paradigms uphold the value of the customers.  Thus, the customer is indeed king.  Last, both paradigms aim for stability in the performance of the system and clarity for improvement.

 

However, there are also several principles of each of the two paradigms that can be compared and contrasted with the other’s basic principles.

  • 1. Focus. The Six Sigma method focuses on the smallest divisions and components of a company or organization.  It focuses on the growth and development of smaller divisions.  On the other hand, the Theory of Constraints focuses only on the most critical issues and on the entire organization.  The Six Sigma believes that efficient smaller divisions will translate into a more efficient company.  However, the TOC believes that a company made up of efficient and effective smaller departments may not even be effective and efficient as a group.
  • 2. Method. Six Sigma uses a quantitative method and data-based philosophy in solving the company’s problems.  TOC advocates a qualitative analysis and logic-based tools in dealing with critical issues.
  • 3. Perception of Variation. Six Sigma aims to reduce variations and extraneous variables.  TOC takes into considerations the individual differences and other potential variations.  It will make the market healthier.
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