In today’s fast-paced business environment, organizations are constantly striving to optimize their project management approaches. One such approach gaining momentum is Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) and Theory of Constraints (TOC). To delve deeper into this methodology and its impact on organizations, we had the pleasure of interviewing Wolfram Müller, an industry expert and the driving force behind BlueDolphin.
Wolfram Müller: Professional Background and the Path to CCPM and TOC
“I was head of PMO of 1and1.com with over 40 project managers and responsible for over 400 projects to deliver,” says Wolfram Müller, sharing his professional journey. “Finally, we found a way to prioritize, and this led to the knowledge that we had built a bottleneck.” The discovery of the book ‘The Goal; by Goldratt was a turning point for Müller: “After that, I read all the books, and we started to use CCPM in one division with even more success – a factor 3 increase in productivity. And that was the starting point.”
Reflecting on his experience, Wolfram highlights the wide scope of his work: “I have had the chance to implement CCPM in over 40 companies, including Wire (the communicator app of Janus Friis, co-founder of Skype), BOSCH divisions, Endress+Hauser, Telefonica Brazit, and many more.” Each implementation presented unique challenges and remarkable achievements. Wolfram proudly states, “We have now 40 companies on our success list! Everyone is special, but a great success.”
CCPM/TOC in Comparison to Other Approaches
Wolfram emphasizes the complementary nature of CCPM/TOC with other methodologies such as Lean and Agile. While Lean focuses on waste reduction and Agile enhances team-level operations, CCPM/TOC acts as a catalyst, bringing a sharp focus on constraints. Wolfram also expresses concern about the current direction of Agile, highlighting CCPM/TOC as the key to advancing Agile at scale.
Wolfram’s advice to organizations considering CCPM and TOC is straightforward and resolute: “Do it! Now!” He urges organizations to embrace the benefits and transformative power of CCPM and TOC, emphasizing that the investment and effort are worthwhile. While allowing freedom of choice, Wolfram recommends LYNX by A-dato as a top tool for implementing CCPM. He states, “LYNX by A-dato is a real good choice – one of the best and cleanest CCPM implementations with TameFlow integration.”
Results and Benefits of CCPM and TOC Implementations
When discussing the results and benefits of CCPM and TOC implementations, Müller directs attention to the impressive track record of success: “Our clients have experienced significant improvements in performance and productivity.” Müller shares a comprehensive success list, showcasing the tangible results achieved by various organizations across different industries.
Highlighting the sustainability of CCPM and TOC implementations, Müller describes the BlueDolphin-Process, which empowers middle management to drive change. Through self-training, the “Challenging Workshop,” and storytelling, the process enables middle management to create their individual change master plan. Daily feedback on remaining durations, adherence to CCPM priorities, and buffer regain measures form the foundation for sustainable results and continuous improvement.
Müller emphasizes the crucial role of middle management in driving change and effective communication: “We focus on the middle management in the change… We systematically enable middle management to communicate.” Transparent communication channels, top-management updates, newsletters, success stories, and data-driven performance metrics ensure a culture of trust and acceptance of CCPM within the organization.
Common Challenges in CCPM and TOC Implementations
Elaborating on the challenges faced by organizations adopting CCPM and TOC, Müller emphasizes, “The main challenge is always the same – too many projects running and, therefore, no time to sharpen the axe.” He adds that each company also faces individual hurdles, which are addressed through the BlueDolphin approach. Müller explains, “We found a special workshop called ‘Challenging Workshop’ where middle management must come up with all challenges/hurdles. They come up with the solutions and build their individual ‘change master plan’ — that leads to real buy-in, and that is the key success factor.”
To make CCPM and TOC principles adaptable to different industries and project types, Müller states, “We added the good parts of agile into CCPM – TameFlow (supported by Lynx)… Our CCPM is TOC complete!” Additionally, CCPM allows for parameter adjustments such as freezing the number of projects, buffer sizes, and project plan detail levels. Müller highlights the importance of customer involvement in tailoring CCPM during implementation.
The Future of CCPM/TOC
Looking ahead, Müller envisions a future where CCPM/TOC evolves by integrating with other methodologies. He sees the emergence of “agile CCPM/TOC” as a feature-complete approach. Moreover, he predicts that constraints will shift further upstream into areas like architecture, product management, sales, and marketing. Additionally, the integration of Throughput Accounting and strategic thinking powered by TOC is expected to unlock further breakthroughs. Müller also acknowledges the role of AI in facilitating faster learning of CCPM/TOC principles through tools like DolphinGPT.ai.
In this captivating interview with Wolfram Müller, we have gained valuable insights into the world of CCPM and TOC. Müller’s expertise and success with BlueDolphin in implementing CCPM/TOC across numerous organizations demonstrate the immense potential of this methodology. By embracing collaboration, effective communication, and tailored approaches, organizations can unlock increased productivity and sustainable results. As the business landscape evolves, CCPM and TOC continue to play a vital role in project management, augmenting existing methodologies and propelling organizations toward success.
Follow Wolfram on LinkedIn here.