(excerpted from The Pipeline)


“Systems-thinking is a way of thinking, a way of reasoning, a way of problem-solving”, said the intrepid, results-based consultant.  “It determines whether something that’s ‘not right’ is really the problem.  Systems-thinking distinguishes between a symptom of a problem and the real problem.  It understands the difference between something that is the root cause of the problem, and something that is merely the effect of the problem.”

As she spoke, she wrote:




“Systems-thinking focuses on managing constraints.  Constraints are not bad, they are a fact of life for any system.  As I said earlier, for a system to not have a constraint, it would have to have unlimited capacity.  We know that’s never the case;  every system has capacity limitations.

“Constraints are the key to managing a system, to getting more out of it.

“To deal effectively with the capacity limitations imposed on the entire system by its constraint – by its bottleneck – the system needs to let the constraint set the pace and rhythm of production;  it needs to let the constraint be the drum, let it be the pacemaker.  That allows the system to exploit the constraint, by getting as much throughput out of it as it can.

“How does the system support the constraint?

“First, by subordinating the decision-making on every other resource to the needs of the constraint.  Second, once the constraint is at capacity, the system elevates the constraint.  It increases the capacity of the constraint, by switching it from some other non-constraint resource, or by acquiring additional resources;  it finds more of it”, she said.  “It understands the nature of constraints, that some are physical, but the vast majority are simply limitations imposed by our internal policies and beliefs, imposed by our own way of looking at things.

“Systems-thinking digs beneath the surface, digs beneath the mere appearance of things, and constantly and repeatedly asks ‘why?’.  It does not settle for the first answer that it hears.  It expresses legitimate reservation.

“It shatters erroneous assumptions and resolves conflicts.”


(The Pipeline: A Picture of Homebuilding Production is available on the publisher website (, through the author website (, as well as,, and