The Theory of Constraints and US Politics

In manufacturing there is something called the Theory of Constraints. The Theory of Constraints is a methodology for identifying the most important limiting factor (i.e. constraint) that stands in the way of achieving a goal and then systematically improving that constraint until it is no longer the limiting factor. In manufacturing, the constraint is often referred to as a bottleneck. And fixing it is part of Lean Manufacturing disciplines. I have seen it done and its impact is very powerful.

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_constraints

By any systemic analysis the Republican Party are the main constraint on almost anything today in US politics. Magical thinking that Hillary Clinton by an act of will can pass legislation does not help much nor will her critics saying at the end of 4 years she wasn’t radical enough.

She faces a Congress gerrymandered to oppose her. She faces a lunatic media machine just getting going against her. And she will face progressives who have no plan to take back Congress, fix gerrymandering, and solve the media attack machine issue, let alone appeal to the 40% who have been driven to loath the Democrats, loath minorities and immigrants and continue to show contempt for women. President Bill Clinton was good at triangulating, but now I hear that isn’t good enough. We are hearing progressive purists wanting the world and wanting it now. Where’s the plan Stan?

Progress in a democracy is about deal making to create coalitions that pass legislation. What Bismark called political sausage making: best not to know what is in there. Sometimes you have to agree to things you don’t much like to get the things you do like. And there are tough trade offs like fracking reduces dependence on middle east oil so reduces need for US to fight wars there. Not advocating it, just noting that most policy involves trade offs.

And in those countries with strong third parties and coalition governments, it is even more about behind closed doors deal making than in a two party system. Go check Italy, Greece, Spain, Germany and the UK during the recent coalition.

So progress if we can get past our fascist viral outbreak, will depend on deft operation of the Theory of Constraints. Any politically inclined manufacturing engineers out there willing to lend a creative helping hand to the Clinton Rock and Roll Band?

About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
This entry was posted in Conflict Processes, Creativity and Conflict, PERSONAL CONFLICT RESOLUTION: CREATIVE STRATEGIES, Philosophy of Conflict, US Political Conflict, Ways to handle conflict and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Theory of Constraints and US Politics

  1. kakatoa says:

    Realistic expectations on what is possible is a good thing.

    Ted Nordhaus’s “Back from the Energy Future – What Decades of Failed Forecasts Say About Clean Energy and Climate Change”
    https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2016-10-18/back-energy-future

    and previous work at the Breakthrough Institute touch on Constraints (and trade off’s as well). Their work on how the fracking revolution enabled the US power generation sector of the economy to wean itself off of coal by switching to abundant low cost natural gas seemed spot on to me.

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