Theory Of Constraints, Lean and Schnitzels

Roy gave me a copy of “The Cash Machine” Using the ToC for Sales Management. It is a good read, and it reminded me of the principals I learnt several years ago, although this book had a nice twist, and applied the ToC on a human process instead of the normal production line. (There are also bits that can apply to SW Development but I’ll save that for another post).

image What is interesting is that I keep on seeing these pattern. I was making Schnitzels (breaded chicken) for dinner today and my kids where helping me (and fighting over who gets to stand closest to me, but lets ignore that part for now).
Making schnitzels, has a few stages.

  1. Cut chicken breast into small pieces (I did this)
  2. Put beaten eggs in a bowl of (my kids did this)
  3. Put bread crumbs and spices on a plate (my kids did this)
  4. Heat up oil in a pan (I did this)

Now comes the fun bit, each piece must be dipped in the egg, then in the bread crumbs, then cooked in oil until it is ready. My kids started to dip and coat the chicken and I put it in the oil, but very soon the pan was full and the coated pieces started piling up.

I started teaching my kids about lean and about not having any waste and I showed them that the piled up pieces are making it harder to cook, they where taking up room and where in the way and basically making a whole mess out of it. So we decided that we can only have 8 coated pieces (enough to fill the pan) waiting and that once we get there we just stop (and play with the tap water or quarrel).

Then I used the second step of the Theory of constraints and tried to exploit the constraint. By moving the pieces closer and by adjusting the heat we could get 12 pieces in the pan. Now we can change our lean constraints and allow 12 free pieces. I explained this and quite soon we completed the cooking.

imageSo Lean and Theory of Constraints play well together. We had a great meal and learnt some process theories on the way.





  1. While I certainly appreciate your adaptation of these principals to everyday situations, I do believe that whooshing noise you hear, is all of the fun being sucked out of what would otherwise be a great deal of fun for your children. 😉 What’s next? A dissertation on chaos theory whilst playing Pooh sticks?….LOL

  2. Yup,
    I had the feeling that I am taking my work back home.
    Nope, the whooshing noise was the kids unplugging the dishwasher, and there is no need to play Pooh stick to prove the chaos theory, just take a peep at the kids room…

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