The theory of constraints in Agile

The Theory of Constraints, which is also known as ToC explains how organizations are kept away from achieving their goals in a timely manner due to the presence of one or more constraints. The constraint that you can find in agile environment will be a production value or a product quality related issue. If you want to break these constraints, you will have to continuously improve the system, so that the existing constraints are improved or protected. Then they will no longer become a constraint in the future.

In order to overcome the negative effects created by Theory of Constraints in an agile team, it is important to follow five different steps. Here’s a quick overview of those five different steps.

The first step would be to identify all the constraints. In here, it is possible to understand all the poor practices and anti-patterns that exist within the agile team. Then it is possible to improve the system. Upon the discovery of constraint, it is important to go ahead and exploit it. This will be the second step. In here, it is possible to get a clear understanding about the product backlog, so that you can make sure that you are not sending out poor inputs that can negatively impact the developments. On the other hand, it is important to identify all dependencies beforehand and resolve them.

The third step will be to subordinate everything related to the constraint. Then everyone is aware about where the bottleneck is and they will be able to overcome the bottleneck effectively. The fourth step will be to elevate the constraint. Some methods that can be followed in here would be to improve the tools used and provide appropriate training. Last but not least, it is important to make sure that inertia is not creating a constraint as well.

— Slimane Zouggari