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Key Idea: Know the Theory of Constraints

Steve Hoffman is a process leader who has mastered the Theory of Constraints.  He is driven to give customers quality, speed and price. Without technology, this was impossible. Now leaders like Steve are doing it everyday.     More... Go to the homepage for this episode

Key Question:


Understand Dr. Eli Goldratt's Theory of Constraints.  This means you must constantly look for the weakest link, strengthen it, then find the next.  That is Goldratt's first principle about knowing what to change.

In 1984 Dr. Eli Goldratt wrote a book, The Goal where he laid out his ideas now well-known as TOC, the Theory of Constraints. Dr. Goldratt says to make improvements we have to know:

  1. What to change -- what is the leverage point.
  2. What to change to -- what are the simple, practical solutions.
  3. How to cause the change -- overcoming the inherent resistance to change.

It is no surprise that Steve thinks about constraint theory. He is a process and systems guy and has been since he made his first sale to a real estate agent.

Q:  Where would Steve be today had he not been interested in systems?

A: If Steve was not a process oriented person, literally driven to constantly find the weakest link, his business would not have flourished as it has.  He might have become a 21st Century Ansel Adams or he could be running a $2 million dollar operation serving real estate agents, but we we know he would not have 250 employees making 100 million post cards a year for as many as 150,000 customers!
That takes expert systems with very few weak links!

Think about it

What is your weakest link? What can you do to strengthen it? Where does the flow in your processes seem to divert or slow?

Clip from: Modern Postcard

From 16 to 250+ employees

Carlsbad, California: Can an entire industry, the business of performance management, be reduced to a postcard? Can the deep study of kaizen and the work of business gurus like Peter Drucker be reduced to a link?  The quick answer is, "Yes." Visit Modern Postcard and meet Steve Hoffman and his team  producing over 100 million postcards a year for some 150,000 customers.

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Modern Postcard, Inc.

Steve Hoffman, CEO

1675 Faraday
Carlsbad, CA 92008

Visit our web site:

Office: 7604317084

Business Classification:
Printing, publishing

Year Founded: 1996

Know the Theory of Constraints

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Steve explains some of his techniques for managing the explosive growth.

STEVE: The way that these work is that each person that comes in to do a brainstorming session, basically, can have an idea.

Unidentified Employee: So we can just repurpose a lot of the existing content that we have.

STEVE: (Voiceover) Then you can start to use the group method in terms of understanding how it all goes together and get buy-in from everybody within a very short period of time.

HATTIE: This is based on something called?

STEVE: The Theory of Constraints.

HATTIE: OK, and what does that mean?

STEVE: The theory of constraints is a system. It's basically a thinking process system in terms of how we think and how we can pull a lot of different, very complex ideas and concepts together into a single cohesive thought that everybody understands.

STEVE: (Voiceover) The constraint with any system is what determines its total output of the entire system, so that with--the chain, naturally, is only as strong as its weakest link. In companies, it's the same thing, is that once you've identified what the constraint is, and you make that faster, the whole company goes faster.

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