This Q&A occurred on LinkedIn and was started by Eli Schragenheim, whom I serve on the TOCICO Board of Directors with.  Eli does a great job of explaining the value of attending a TOCICO conference especially after the passing of Dr Eliyahu M Goldratt, the father of Theory of Constraints. 

QUESTION by Eli Schragenheim:  Serving on the board of TOCICO I’m interested in the value people expect from coming to the conference. Considering your personal background what would like to get from the conference?

Employees of an organization might expect different values for them than the value a freelance consultant expects to get. We all like to know more about TOC, but an annual conference is not an educational seminar. If we verbalize the value for us we could achieve more from such a conference – both now and also in the future. Is it getting new ideas? If so, how do we check them after the conference? Is it to get to know people? What type of people would you like to know and what kind of value you expect to get from it in the future? Is there anything that we, the organizers of the annual conference, should do to increase the value of the conference?

I’m aware that this year program is already set, but we better know what to watch for. The coming conference is the first that is planned after Eli has gone from us. How can we as a community keep the momentum?

Response from David Poveda:  Hi Eli, I might recall to you that I have been a TOC consultant for 15 years now. The real value that I got from previous TOCICO conferences was the knowledge delivered by Eli Goldratt. To be honest, the rest was almost anecdotic and social with some important exceptions such as your speech on S-DBR in Miami.

Given that Dr. Goldratt left us, I have not signed in for this year because of the uncertainty that I have regarding the cost/benefit
of attending it. Cost not only in money but also in time (maybe more important at this moment). Would it be worthy to spend the money and one week? Will I get really substantial new knowledge??!!!

I have not made up my mind yet. Please convince me!!!!  Thanks in advance. Good to be in touch with you.

Response byEli Schragenheim:  Thanks David for putting this question on the table. I assume many experienced TOC consultants and practitioners are asking the same question: would we hear any new breakthrough-insights in the coming TOCICO

I believe that this is exactly what is going to happen. In a minute I’ll describe what we, the board of TOCICO, planned for the
Chicago specifically to answer the question. First I like to draw attention to the fact, that you know well, that Eli Goldratt had a passion to push intelligent people to achieve their personal goal and add value to the world.  This created the chance for quite wide and varied group of people to become the personal pupils of Eli. These people do not have Eli’s unique genius, but they went through quite a hard way to sharpen their thinking and be able to present solutions to unsolved problems – thus creating something new and exciting, even if it is in a narrower area than Eli would have treated it. Arguing face-to-face with Eli meant going into a storm. Coming alive and well out of the storm probably means we (I’m including myself in this group of Eli’s
personal pupils) we did acquire a certain capability to think afresh and come up with new insights.

In his last two weeks of his life Eli made a special emphasis on “Never Say I know”. He aimed it at us to urge us to check
again our basic assumptions, including the assumption that we can learn only from Eli Goldratt.

The first two days of the Chicago conference are going to challenge the current knowledge AND direct us to look for better solutions.  Day 1 is focused on the five main knowledge areas: S&T, Production/Operations, Distribution/Retail, CCPM and the TP. Each session will be facilitated – it is not going to be just a presentation by the “one who truly knows”. By the way, the one area I think Eli did not excel was to facilitate – he did not have the patience. The facilitators we chose are much more relaxed and willing to listen. The most important factor to me is to layout the BOUNDARIES of each area: what are the necessary conditions that define the area for which methodology is effective. Then we would start to analyze what to do when one or more of the necessary conditions (usually stated as assumptions) do not apply.

The second day consists of nine presentations for the Goldratt Foundations – meaning a committee has found out that each one of them has UNIQUE new ideas/solutions/set of insights to offer.

So, we replace the two-days of Goldratt by one-day facilitated discussions on the existing knowledge what how can we expand it, and next day using the classic way of presenting new knowledge. I believe these two days are NOT going to be anecdotic.

The two remaining days are going to be somewhat different as well. One important change: most presentations would take only 30
minutes including Q&A. Then we plan a “Hype-Park Corner” for even shorter presentations and discussions. This way we try to capitalize on the important feature of having many but variable level of presentations: giving room for new people, new ideas and more choice for the attendee, hoping that some of them would be truly good.

Suppose that out of ten presentation you listen in the last two days seven or eight did not add anything worthwhile. Is it bad? Is it truly waste of time? What about the two or three that did offer something new?  What is the value of that?

David, what is your alternative? You can definitely go on your own in developing yourself and the service you provide to your
customers. If we all do that TOC would die and all what will remain is a bunch of pretty clever people helping some organizations and when they die nothing will be left. Without sharing this is what would definitely happen. If we learn to consult each other, something that I do quite extensively, we improve ourselves and we improve the reputation and the practical impact of what we
have all learned from Eli Goldratt.

Response by David Poveda:  Hi Eli: Thanks a LOT for you reply. Now I know it is important to attend the conference and I will do so. Quite some good reasons you have shared with all of us. Look forward to see you there.

In the other hand, I must comment on the fact that your reply and arguments were totally new to me. Why GM and TOCICO did not tell us that from the beginning? I have received many mails from GM inviting to the conference but they did not made clear what you just did.

I suggest you share your reply with as many people as possible in the TOC community. With your permission, I will share it with the TOC group we have in South America.

Thanks again!!


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