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Counterpoint Podcast

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About the Podcast

Many of the problems we face in organizations are wicked problems. These are unique, chronic problems that seems almost impossible to solve because of their complex and interconnected nature. When you try to address one element of these problems, you may inadvertently cause an issue somewhere else. No wonder they are wicked problems!

It is clear that standard techniques of trying to solve these problems one at a time is not going to cut it. Moreover, with these kinds of problems, very often, clarifying what is the problem is often as big or a bigger task as solving it. However, Theory of Constraints philosophy offers the necessary “thought-ware” to tame such wicked problems.

These podcasts are discussions, interviews, or presentations in which Vectorians, our clients or other experts discuss and explore how a systems approach and the thinking processes of Theory of Constraints, can be combined to design breakthrough solutions for complex and chronic business problems across industry segments. The focus of each podcast is to validate the theoretical constructs behind these innovative solutions and to discuss the practical aspects of implementing them.

In the first episode, we present to you the ubiquitous Month-End Skew in sales. In distribution companies the usual sales pattern is 10:20:30:40 over the four weeks of a month. This sales pattern is popularly described as the “Hockey Stick” sales syndrome and is accepted as a normal industry phenomenon. It is not often realized that this hockey stick does huge damage in terms of lost sales and prevents faster growth of sales.

In this episode we discuss why this happens and how can we solve for it.

Tune in to new episodes on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify Podcasts.

For more details on this topic, you can check out the article at https://www.vectorconsulting.in/research-publications/consumer-industry-insights/straightening-the-hockey-stick-in-sales-and-distribution/

Most companies try hard to win retailer loyalty through various temporary offers and schemes. However, these standard, time bound, volume-slab wise, schemes do not promote any real loyalty (retailers opportunistically shift between different schemes to secure the best possible deal); these schemes exclude small retailers almost completely (as they cannot pick up enough volume to qualify); and often promotes self-dumping (due to greed to qualify for schemes). Consequent results are disruption of price hygiene in the market and poor ROI for channel partners.

Listen to this podcast to find how firms can truly bond with retailers without any of these issues!

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In the last episode we discussed how to win long-term loyalty of retailers. However, in many product categories there can be other influencers for a purchase- it could be architects/ carpenters for furniture, masons/engineers for construction products, mechanics for automobiles and so on. These influencers can strongly and positively sway the end customers towards a specific brand.

So, as we promised in the last episode, we have come back to discuss how we can nurture a strong bond with these influencers, how such a bond can be competitive edge for the company, and why we claim it cannot be replicated or copied easily by a competitor.

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Try to visualize this - a phone manufactured in China must reach an Indian retailer just before a consumer walks in demanding that make and model. If it arrives too late, it’s a lost sale. If it arrives too early, it adds to the inventory carrying cost of the retailer. Is it possible to ensure that no customer is ever disappointed, while also keeping your retailers happy? If we understand what prevents us from achieving both these objectives, maybe seamless availability of a product can be guaranteed?

In this episode, we take a deep dive precisely into the root cause of this perplexing issue - why do supply chains often fail, despite the numerous people and the cutting edge technologies it has at its disposal?

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In the last episode we did a breakdown of typical supply chain problems and how they are all linked to the practice of manufacturing as per forecasts. In this episode we propose a solution by going back to the basics of inventory management. This simple solution can ensure that the right product is available at the right place at the right time. Then, the company does not have to lose a single customer.

Find out how to implement a simple solution to ensure continuous availability of products in the market so as to not lose a single customer!

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Tune in to find out how we can think clearly and develop breakthrough solutions. Being a physicist Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt adopted the traditions, constructs, and rigor of the hard sciences, when he introduced a set of thinking tools to serve as a framework to raise questions regarding existing paradigms, identify problems in any environment (not necessarily business), converge on to the root cause of these issues and build robust solutions.

By the way, this episode has a small but interesting test that you can apply at your workplace to understand any problem, better.

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If we can identify the problem, we can solve it! However, the challenge with most root cause analysis techniques is that it is difficult to tell if you have reached the real root cause or not, especially since after some layers, data may not be available to observe the causal entity directly. So, most analyses are unknowingly limited to a superficial point! TOC Thinking takes a very different and much deeper approach to reach the core issue involved.

Listen to this episode as a continuation of the first part on Thinking Processes philosophy and learn why a mindset of 'synthesis' is imperative to find the core conflict of a system and to design breakthrough solutions.

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Part 1 to this episode: https://anchor.fm/counterpoint-podcast/episodes/Ep6-TOC-Thinking-Processes-A-toolkit-for-thinking-clearly-Part-1-e139nj9

JIT is a methodology first developed and implemented in the 70's at Toyota Manufacturing Plant. Since then, it has been replicated and implemented across various manufacturing and supply chain companies across the word. All in a bid to keep their operations lean and reduce the failures, delays and cost stuck up in inventory or other resources. However, with uncertainties and high demand variability, due to natural calamities, increasing competition, changing technology and regulatory norms and hence systems like JIT might need to be re-looked at.

This episode on the Counterpoint Podcast is a discussion to explore the shortcomings with JIT and if this methodology still holds relevance in the current conditions or do we need to evolve and move to a better and sustainable solution.

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Find out how to overcome bias in decision making by using the right thought-ware. Bad decisions can have long standing consequences. So, to avoid bias, managers tend to rely on data. Unfortunately, data does not always help differentiate between truth and perception. For instance, two managers might have two different interpretations of the same data; or two opposing views can have fully reliable data supporting them. Sometimes, there is no data at hand. How can managers go beyond data and use a more systematic and rigorous approach to decision making?

This episode is a continuation of the two previous podcasts on Thinking Processes and explains how to use deductive reasoning to avoid common traps in analysing problems and making decisions.

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Many plants are often marred by poor efficiencies, late deliveries, and a perpetual fire-fighting mode. After decades of efforts, most of them have given up on solving these chronic problems. However, there is a way out, an easy one, if one can understand the core conflict.

This episode gives is an understanding of the problems, the core reasons for these problems and solutions which can dramatically improve any manufacturing plant's performance within a very short period of time.

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In the past 3 episodes on the Thinking Processes series, we have discussed how the philosophy goes to the deepest level of a problem at hand, how it builds the logic around it and how it identifies the root cause to take a stab at it. Hence, it makes an extremely helpful tool for anyone, especially managers and leaders. However, it take s some amount of practice to become proficient in using the tool. It has some very easy-to-follow starting steps which can help one get started on the journey of using it.

This episode is dedicated to laying the foundation for starting on a journey to build simple logical constructs of cause and effect. It gets really interesting and extremely exciting from here on.

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Supplier Bullwhip is basically an ill effect of a supply chain practice of OEMs who use a combination of monthly forecasting and daily expediting to manage their assembly lines. The Tier 1, 2 and 3 suppliers are the ones who bear the brunt of it, further upstream the supplier, more severe the effect, which also means that the smallest guy in the chain is the worst hit. But it all does come back to the OEMs too indirectly.

We have either mentioned or discussed the supplier bullwhip effect in many of our previous episodes, especially the ones around the supply chain and operations solutions.

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Multitasking is considered an important skill to achieve more in less time. But is it really the most effective way to get more output? The episode takes a deep dive into this topic and includes an interesting DIY activity to help you check if multi-tasking does or does not work.

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Another example of how multi-tasking can ruin your output: https://www.vectorconsulting.in/research-publications/engineering-industry-insights/stop-digging-if-you-are-already-in-a-hole-2/

Chronic problems stay unresolved due to inherent conflicts in resolving them. Conflicts manifests as design contradictions (example: fuel efficiency vs power) or in interpersonal issues (I want to do x, while my partner doesn’t want to do it).

Is there an approach to resolve these conflicts and contradictions? What kind of mindset is required to deal with conflicts and contradictions? This episode talks about mindset required to solve conflicts and the underlying techniques.

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Listen to the episode and click on the link below to get more understanding on the topic. https://www.vectorconsulting.in/blog/systems-thinking-innovation/theory-of-constraints-and-the-thinking-process/

Mr. Anil Mathur, COO at Godrej Interio talks about how the company solved the perennial conflict for sales bandwidth between converting current enquiries and developing new leads by releasing significant capacity for business development from the existing team. In B2B companies, on the one hand sales teams must meet new customers to develop new business, and on the other they must focus on support activities and current leads to ensure monthly order booking and sales targets. Most of their capacity tends to be taken up by the second. However, if this conflict is not addressed, a company cannot expand customer base and increase market share beyond a threshold without increasing the sales team!

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Listen to the episode and click on the link below to get more understanding on the topic. https://www.vectorconsulting.in/our-work/godrej-interio-institutional-business/?type=solution

What really is a ‘constraint’ as referred to in Theory of Constraints? The dictionary defines a constraint as a limitation, a restriction, or an obstacle. Taking it literally, many people misunderstand Theory of Constraints to be the art of overcoming obstacles and hinderances which come in the course of work. This is NOT Theory of Constraints.

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Listen to this episode to find out how to identify a constraint in a system, exploit it and gain higher productivity https://www.vectorconsulting.in/blog/nuances-of-toc-concepts/know-your-constraints/

This episode of the Counterpoint Podcast focuses on the financial aspects of decision making. When it comes to anything financial, organisations typically depend on a department "specialising" in it - the finance department. Dr. Anil Lamba, a financial literacy activist, discusses with us how this fact is the very reason why companies, at times, take disastrous decisions.

Listen to this episode to understand why financial know-how and know-why is critical for every manager and what happens when wrong decisions are taken.

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We received a lot of messages, directly and indirectly asking us 'if TOC addresses Non-Linear Causality'. Non-linear causality means that A causes B, then B can also boomerang back to A at some point. Now, these could be either positive loops or negative.

Understanding these loops, as they exist in an organization, is very critical for any change agent. Without understanding the existing causal loops at play, interventions can lead to waste of time and capacity. This is one of the reasons of failure of many organization-wide transformation initiatives.

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'Is leadership an art or a science?' is a perineal debate. A leader's true nature is witnessed at times of transformation and the challenges it brings along.

In this episode, we discuss and analyze why Leadership is a science and not an art and also go further to describe the three important tactics to be effective as a leader.

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You can also check out the link below, for more on Kiran's views on leadership: https://www.vectorconsulting.in/blog/toc-leadership-paradigms/leadership-styles-and-organization-culture/

We had discussed, the problems that the current system of financial decision-making poses, in an earlier episode. We had established the need for local decisions with clear assessment of organisational impact. We now discuss how the new method overcomes the pitfalls of using the absorption-based costing method. We also discuss the areas where the marginal-costing method fails. The episode talks about the need to consider uncertainty of demand and impact on constraint to get the holistic financial impact on organisation.

Tune in to learn about the software tool developed by Vector to facilitate holistic decision making on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify Podcasts.

For more details on this topic, you can check out the article at: https://www.vectorconsulting.in/blog/nuances-of-toc-concepts/throughput-accounting-an-introduction/

Manufacturing industries are marred by many common problems which obstruct flow of inventory, poor on time delivery performance and unhappy customers. These include unreliable vendors, frequently missing components for manufacturing, inventory pileups and shifting bottlenecks.

In this episode with Mr. Sharan Bansal, Director at Skipper Limited, we discuss the learnings from a transformation of the operating model that was undertaken at Skipper, using flow principles of Theory of Constraints.

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Read more about how to implement rapid flow principles in custom manufacturing here: https://www.vectorconsulting.in/research-publications/equipment-manufacturing/get-more-out-of-less/

Imagine buying a vehicle and then facing high waiting time for servicing and repairs! Availability of spares play a major role in the time it takes to get a vehicle out of the service station. Unfortunately, managing inventory of a huge range of spare parts is an Achilles heel for most OEMs.

This episode takes a deep dive into the challenges faced by the OEMs and by extension everyone in the supply chain until the customer. We also zero down on the core problem from which all the issues germinate.

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To read more details about how OEMs can manage spare parts availability https://www.vectorconsulting.in/research-publications/auto-auto-components/spare-parts-strategy-for-oems-in-automobile-sector/

Job shops are one of the most complex manufacturing environments to manage. With frequent expediting, month end skew, delayed customer orders, and poor coordination between functions, many job shops are wrought with challenges and complications.

In a bid to solve these, companies commonly alternate between solutions like capacity enhancement, line dedication and finite scheduling software but for most these are wasted efforts and problems continue. Time to understand the core problem.

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In the last episode, we had looked at the troubles a job shop faces day-in-day-out. We also looked at the core conflict behind these problems and explored the reasons why some of the common solutions add fuel to the fire.

This episode is the second part of the same discussion to discuss the direction of a sustainable solution using principles of flow management. Tune in!

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In an earlier episode, we had touched upon the challenges faced by the OEMs in managing spare parts availability for servicing vehicles. In that discussion, we had identified the core problem behind this challenge.

In this episode, we try to counter the conflict with a sustainable solution that enables higher availability and parts sales at much lower inventory as compared to the conventional way of managing spare parts. Also learn about how the shift to electric vehicles can impact the future supply chains of spare parts.

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For more details of the solution visit https://www.vectorconsulting.in/research-publications/auto-auto-components/spare-parts-strategy-for-oems-in-automobile-sector/

Let's hear from Mr. R V Gumaste, MD, KFIL about how they sustained the innovative pull-based flow processes in manufacturing and new product development for 7 years without any violations.

We discuss what challenges did they faced in implementing and sustaining the new processes.

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