Eliyahu Goldratt (wikipedia) introduced the world to the Theory of Constraints (“TOC”) (wikipedia) in his 1984 book The Goal. The book is required reading in top MBA programs and in careers with a heavy focus on manufacturing, technical development and/or scheduling. Applying the concepts of The Goal is an effective way to create plans and resolve challenges in many settings – as Goldratt demonstrates in the book.
If its important to you to learn and be able to apply TOC quickly and effectively, I encourage the following steps:
- Read the book.
- Apply TOC to something work related.
- Apply TOC to something personal.
- Explain TOC to someone once a day for 2 weeks.
1/ Read the book.
There’s a reason that the #1 most common book used in all MBA programs globally is The Goal. It teaches the concepts clearly, across cultures, and is relevant in many business settings. Read the book. Buy the book. You’ll use it repeatedly. If you want the annotated version, buy the comic book version. If you need to start right now, then check out this page-by-page, chapter-by-chapter review.
2/ Apply TOC to something work related.
The great thing about Goldratt’s framework is that it can be immediately grasped and applied. Take what you learn from  and start to put it into action – just like Rogo does with the NCX-10 – the robot used as an example throughout the book. (Chapter 17) Find a work related topic and apply what you know. Write out the goal. Write out the process that gets you there. Identify the constraints. The project can be real world manufacturing, a project, a customer problem – but picking something real will help that learning kick in.
3/ Apply TOC to something personal.
I’m no fan of Julie Rogo, the wife of Alex Rogo (Chapter 16), the lead character in The Goal. Goldratt did something brilliant as a writer by including Alex and Julie’s relationship challenges, Alex’s personal history with Barrington, where the ailing plant is located. By showing that TOC is applicable in a corporate setting and in a personal setting Goldratt extended the value of the framework as a tool. Try finding something personal where additional inspection would help in achieving a goal.
4/ Talk about TOC
TOC is relevant to the workplace  and to your personal life . The best way to learn a subject is to teach it to others. Take what you’ve read and applied and discuss it with those around you.
Conclusion: The Fastest and Best Way to Learn TOC
There are lots of ways to learn a subject. By following these steps you’ve got the fastest, easiest, and clearest steps ahead of you to learn and apply Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints (“TOC”).