Theory of Constraints with Dr. Alan Barnard CEO of Goldratt Research Labs

Dr. Alan Barnard is one of the world’s leading Decision Scientist and Theory of Constraints’ experts. Alan, a serial entrepreneur, is the Founder and CEO of Goldratt Research Labs, a company he co-founded in 2008 together with Dr. Eli Goldratt, creator of Theory of Constraints. They were both passionate about applying a robust scientific approach to developing new Thinking & Decision making methods and advanced technologies to help people make better, faster decisions – decisions that move them closer to their goals.

Today, Alan works as a Strategy advisor, Researcher, and Theory of Constraint (TOC) expert and educator, with both Fortune 500 companies as well as NGO’s and Government Agencies. His clients include Microsoft, Cargill, Tata Steel, Nike, ABB, BHP, Cisco, South32, SAP, Intel, Penguin Random House, BC Rail, Larsen & Toubro, Premier Foods, Fujitsu, Habitat for Humanity, UNDP, UNWFP, and Utah Governor’s Office of Management and Budget.

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Connect with the Guest:

Dr. Alan Barnard: LinkedIn

Some of the highlights from the podcast:

  • [06:25] South African Breweries Supply Chain – Identifying the difference between the best day, the average day, and the worst day
  • [14:30] A life’s goal is simply a dream taken seriously – the importance of powerful goals. 
  • [20:46] The goal of Goldratt Research Labs – help individuals and organizations make better, faster decisions when it really matters.
  • [26:23] Simulation Models – How a 1% change in average selling price can create a 20% reduction in net profit
  • [31:22] Working with the largest book publisher in the world – how they doubled their profits using the theory of constraints 
  • [40:33] Microsoft project – how they saved a quarter of a billion dollars by using the right decision support apps

Show notes:

  • [01:44] Let’s start with a short introduction. Maybe you can tell us more about the main milestones of your career so far.
  • [04:47] Improving something that’s not great is pretty easy, but improving something that’s considered to be almost the best in the world is massively challenging.
  • [06:27] If you’re going into an environment that you have very little intuition about, the first thing you want to do is to see if you can pick up if there’s a big difference between the best and the worst or the best and the average.
  • [09:43] Your relation with Dr. Eli was quite an interesting one because it was the catalyst in a few important projects in your life, including the Goldratt Research Labs.
  • [10:51] Dr. Eli basically said in the book that if you want to make a breakthrough in any field or organization, you only need to follow two steps. The first one is to have the courage to look for inconsistencies and number two is to have the courage to challenge basic assumptions.
  • [12:11] Unfortunately, the most common way people after some time is that if they’re not meeting their own expectations or their company’s, they start lowering their expectations.
  • [14:30] Dr. Eli said that a life goal is something that when you achieve it you are ready to die and a softer version of that is a life’s goal is simply a dream taken.
  • [15:29] The first question is what is the mission of the research lab? And the second one, how would you answer the goal question now?
  • [16:37] I must look at a goal as a journey, not a destination. And I must articulate my goal in a way that I can achieve it every single day.
  • [18:45] Dr. Eli’s last words to me before he passed away in 2011 was, “Alan, I expect you not to stand in my shadow but to stand on my shoulders. I want you to continue to challenge what I’ve come up with and inspire people to do that.”
  • [19:46] One part of the puzzle is harmony decision-maker and I think there are a few apps there. I would be very curious for you to tell us more about it and how does it connect with the three constraints or is there a connection?
  • [20:46] So the decision-maker app was designed specifically to do two things. One, to help somebody discover what those limiting beliefs or assumptions can be and secondly, develop better options.
  • [24:18] Simulations is a fantastic way to model complex systems that has these non-linearities and feedback loops in both to understand potentially what could be causing the current effect with a positive or negative, but also to taste it out different strategies
  • [28:20] Decision mistakes are by far the biggest waster of our limited attention, not only mistakes but also delays.
  • [30:56] Is there an interesting example that you can showcase and tell us more about by just implementing your solution, they had a huge increase in results or efficiency?
  • [31:22] We were contacted by the largest book publisher in the world in the early 2000s and they were facing a crisis. They noticed that more and more electronic books were starting to become popular and the average selling price was dropping.
  • [33:38] What and who you pay attention to is going to be all the difference makes all the difference.
  • [37:57] What I found so remarkable with this company is not only, they were willing for us to share what we had done, but actually encouraged us to work with other players in the industry, because I realized that the whole industry is fragile.
  • [39:10] How can supply chain professionals, in general, improve their decision-making process in order to make better decisions? What would be one piece of advice?
  • [42:20] We should never let a crisis go to waste.

Related Episodes:

Continuous Delivery Experience with Adam Compain CEO of ClearMetal

Pre-shopping Growth with Candice Ong CCO of ShopBack

E-commerce in Indonesia with Phil Opamuratawongse Co-Founder of Shipper

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LEX GREENSILL​

Chief Executive Officer, Greensill​

Lex is the co-founder and CEO of Greensill, and a Senior Advisor and Crown Representative to Her Majesty’s Government on Supply Chain Finance. He was awarded the CBE for Services to the British Economy in Queen Elizabeth II’s 2017 Birthday Honours.

Lex previously established the global SCF business at Morgan Stanley, and led the EMEA SCF business at Citi.

Lex holds an MBA from Manchester Business School, and is a Solicitor of the Supreme Courts of England and Wales, and Queensland.