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Theory Of Constraints, Or Principle Of Design?

RestraintThe Theory of Constraints is something that caught my eye recently. I was indulging myself in a STRATFOR video in which George Friedman was postulating that due to the unchangeables of geography, historical baggage, human behaviour and time in history, peoples and nations may aspire to things lofty and noble, and not arrive at where they wish to be. This sounded to me to be very much like the Theory of Constraints. I am not going into the details of the Theory of Constraints in this post, and it seems to ring true when viewed from the perspective of natural laws. This, of course, runs afoul of all things promulgated by “possibilitarians”, who like to think that “all things are possible.” Depending on context and frame of reference, both views are probably true in their own ways. Apply judiciously.

As practical, effective leaders, I invite you to think, not only in terms of “constraints” and “possibilities”, but also in terms of “design.” “Constraints” are simply how the natural world has been designed. What people call “possibilities” are in reality permutations and combinations of limited options, limited realities. Perhaps we ought to be thinking more about how we can best flow within the boundaries of a system even as we seek to explore through them and perhaps around them. I like the title of F. Spencer Chapman’s book “The Jungle is Neutral” very much indeed. The jungle is neither for us or against us. It is simply there. We choose whether or not to benefit from it according to how it is designed. The business sphere is similarly designed. It is neither for us or against us, it is simply there. We flow with it according to how seems best for ourselves, or we try to manoeuvre in order to make it so.

Can we have similar perspectives when discussing constraints and possibilities? What do you think?

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