Running Like a Bottled Tornado


Stegall, M. Scott   (2003, ASQ)   University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI

Quality Progress    Vol. 36    No. 1
QICID: 18828    January 2003    pp. 45-50
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Article Abstract

Many experts have extolled the benefits of transforming hierarchical, autocratic organizations into adaptive, self-organizing learning organizations. Their descriptions of these organizations are often complex and confusing, calling for a new analogy that allows the concept to be quickly comprehended. The bottled tornado, a child's simple toy, illustrates principles from general systems theory and ties together concepts from W. Edwards Deming's transformation philosophy and Eliyahu Goldratt's theory of constraints. The apparatus functions like an hourglass but uses water instead of sand. The tornado models a bottleneck that inhibits further improvement of the process. To improve the system the manager must maximize the output of the bottleneck. This is best accomplished by allowing subordinate processes to work only at the production pace of the bottleneck. The bottleneck process is allowed to self-organize. The leader's role in creating and maintaining an organization that runs like a bottled tornado is to bring a group of people together and provide just enough control so people self-organize. Leadership emerges throughout the system as needed and the power is given over to the larger entity. A sidebar article describes the five steps in Goldratt's theory of constraints.


Bottlenecks,Goldratt's Theory of Constraints (TOC),Learning organizations,Self Directed Work Teams (SDWT),Organizational design,Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle,Management styles

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