Getting my butt kicked and rescued by the Theory of Constraints!

Recap: I’m running an apparel manufacturing company but don’t know how to turn on a sewing machine. Not good. But I’m seeing through new eyes as I learn to implement the Theory of Constraints. This will be the key to my success in Network Marketing, I just didn’t know it at the time.

You’ve driven down the road and all of a sudden you are in bumper to bumper traffic. As you go further along you realize that 2 or 3 lanes are squeezing into one. This is a constraint known as a bottle neck. About 10 cars ahead  you see the construction crew remove the barriers and all of a sudden all the cars sail through. The bottle neck has been removed.

Factories frequently experience bottlenecks. So do networkers . Bottlenecks occur because of constraints. A constraint is anything that can cause production to stop or slow down. A constraint is the cause, the bottleneck is the result.

Let me describe our production line. We made boxer shorts. There were only 7 steps, seemingly simple, but the complexities of moving one piece of fabric down an assembly line and have it come out as a boxer short are amazingly complex. Having a new associate join you and move down the assembly line of becoming a successful and profitable distributor is even more complex, and just as in a factory, anything can go wrong.

A constraint in my factory could be a machine down, 2 or 3 people on an operation out of work that day, the wrong color thread got on the machines, I mean the list goes on and on. All of these are constraining the flow of goods from the first operation to the last operation. When the constraints happen at the first few operations it creates a huge bottleneck with hardly anything getting to the finish line. Nothing at the finish line equals no money.

What I learned was that I had to remove and control the constraints at the first operation so that more could flow to the 2nd. As the constraints were removed, the production line would send more goods faster to the end of the  line. It’s called “Breaking the Bottleneck”.

To break the bottleneck you have to “move the bottleneck forward”. You want the bottleneck to be near the last operation. If the constraints and the bottlenecks are all at the first few operations everything shuts down. When it is near the last operation it is close to completion, it is almost a finished product, it is in a wonderful state of “almostness” and it is easy to focus on it and move it to completion.

I realized as I re-entered Network marketing that the exact same dynamics were in play.  A new networker has the constraint of fear, the constraint of a skeptical spouse, friend, family member, the constraint of a lack of knowledge and confidence. Not knowing this, not knowing that there are constraints, not knowing how to identify them in yourself or in your team will cause bottlenecks. When the bottlenecks happen in the early days of a new distributor everything piles up, they get frustrated and  they often quit.

We have all kinds of cute sayings in MLM: “If your why is big enough you’ll figure out how”, is a common one. You can add your own here, but sayings will not break a bottleneck unless the distributor is close to the finish line and in a state of “almostness”. What the heck does that mean? They must experience some success before their belief system is ready to push them the rest of the way. You, as leader/mentor/upline, need to help them identify and remove those early constraints so that they are moving toward completion.

What is true, and has never changed, is that they must bring desire. Without desire the new associate is wasting your time. They WILL become a constraint in your business and frustrate you. No matter what you think, a baseball will never become a pair of boxer shorts, a distributor without desire is on their way to quitting and the sooner you know this the more you can focus on those who want to succeed. Seems basic, right? It can be but only if…

you  learn how to identify their constraints and move the bottleneck forward.



One thought on “Getting my butt kicked and rescued by the Theory of Constraints!

  1. Leirisson Feijo - December 7, 2010

    Kevin,

    your support is a great tool, not mentioning the great leader you are! Congratulations for all your efforts.

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