TLS Methodology



TLS Methodology is an example of an innovation in methods. It combines the best concepts of Theory of Constraints (T), Lean (L) and Six Sigma (S) to provide a very powerful approach that leads to dramatic improvement in business performance. While Lean and Six Sigma have useful concepts and techniques, their usage has primarily been for process improvement in functional silos. In such traditional process improvement initiatives, the goal is to achieve local optima. The traditional approach is a reductionist one that breaks down the system into smaller and smaller sub-systems to apply improvement techniques and assumes that


Global Improvement =     Σ all local improvements.


However, it has been proved from the experience of many organizations around the world that this is not true. Most of these improvement programs have provided dismal ROI for the investment and management effort put in because the “paper profits” returned by these initiatives, often do not have any impact on the overall business performance.  Theory of Constraints (TOC), on the other hand, is a systems approach that is based on finding the leverage points which would have significant impact on business performance. This approach aims only for global improvements.


When we combine the strengths of three approaches, we get results that are not only significant, visible improvements in bottom line, but are also very rapidly attained.


The power of TLS was demonstrated in a study conducted for 2 years by an electronics manufacturer. The company, which had 21 plants in the US, deployed Six Sigma in 11 of these plants, deployed Lean in 4 of these plants and deployed TLS in remaining 6 plants. After 2 years, it measured the impact on bottom line of these initiatives. They found that Six Sigma accounted for 7% of the total improvement in bottom line, Lean accounted for 4% improvement in bottom line, whreas TLS accounted for 89% of the total improvement in bottom line.


TLS Study


TLS provides different tools to handle different situations. While TOC is about focus and systematic alignment, Lean is about waste reduction and Six Sigma is about reducing variation. Each school of thought – Lean, Six Sigma & TOC, has proven its effectiveness, otherwise they simply wouldn’t exist. In combination they are formidable. TLS addresses the core problems. Some of the tools available for different purposes include:


Tools for creating alignment:

  • Governance
  • Thinking Processes
  • Constraint Analysis
  • Measurements Analysis
  • Visual Display

Tools for stabilizing the delivery process:

  • SDBR, Pull
  • Level Loading, Balancing
  • Buffer Management
  • CCPM

Tools for driving waste out of the system:

  • Process Mapping
  • QFD
  • Design of Experiments (DOE)
  • Cause and Effect analysis

Tools for driving variation out of the process:

  • Process variables as noise or constant
  • Visual work instructions
  • Run/SPC Charts
  • Variable characterization