Over many years Clarke Ching – founder of TOC Thinkers – has developed a valuable series of interviews by talking to authors and practitioners in the field of “Theory of Constraints” and “Critical Chain. He is interested in the story behind the story. I consider myself very honored to be included in Clarke’s circle of interview partners. Here you find the entire interview.
The idea of my newest book “Be Fast Or Be gone” came to me while working on a contribution for my blog “The Point”. I have posted a number of contributions talking about the reasons why Critical Chain is a very effective approach. I explained how it works. I elaborated on the impact that I have seen in varous industries such as large Fortune 500 pharmaceuticals. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to tell the entire story of a Critical Chain rollout?”
Up to this point I used various methods to educate people on Critical Chain: presentations, group exercises, case studies and blogs – just to name a few. Still, at the end of the day, it is not simple for people to fully grasp the Critical Chain concepts and their impact, if they haven’t seen them at work first hand. People need to experience the power of planning, the relentless focus on project execution to understand what is possible. Typically it takes eight to twelve months observing an implemenation to fully understand what I had talked about in all the discussions leading up to an engagement. Very often, executives come to me a year into a rollout and tell me that now they understand what I was talking about when we started our relationship.
Hence, this book.
With “Be Fast Or Be Gone” I wanted to give an insight into the dynamics of a Critical Chain rollout. I wanted to tell the story about the road blocks that typically need to be overcome. I wanted to talk about the possibilities that are opening up. I wanted to talk about the behaviors that are changing. In short, I wanted to talk about everything that goes on beyond the technicalities of the scheduling software.
This book is about a father, Mike Knight, who learns that his eight-year-old son Tim has a rare form of brain cancer. He makes the agonizing decision to quit his job and go to work for Altus Labs, a pharmaceutical company developing a possible treatment. Mike is in for the challenge of his life as he races against time to implement Critical Chain Project Management at Altus Labs. Critical Chain Project Management is an enterprise solution that incorporates methodology and software tools to help organizations move to a relay-race “faster and better” paradigm. Companies that implement the Critical Chain approach routinely experience off-the-chart returns on investment.
A few of my peers and colleagues were so kind to publicly comment on the book. I am humbled by their testimony.
Be Fast or Be Gone is a fascinating treatment of the power of focus, applied to the often complex world of project and strategy management. The answers to increased productivity, though simple, are often subtle and hidden beneath old and accepted practices, requiring an incisive and radically rational viewpoint. Scherer’s book (and the ProChain process it reflects) beautifully illumines such a process.
— David Allen, Author, Getting Things Done: the Art of Stress-Free Productivity
Andreas Scherer provides a highly engaging explanation of Critical Chain and describes its application to development projects. Every R&D director should read this book and every project manager should become a Critical Chain expert. Be Fast or Be Gone will open your eyes to the possibilities of realistic schedules and on-time project completion.
— Dr. Steven D. Eppinger, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Management
Using the principles espoused in Andreas Scherer’s book Be Fast or Be Gone, pharmaceutical companies can substantially shorten their research and development timelines, allowing drugs to be available to patients much more quickly.
— Dr. Hugh Davis, Vice President, Centocor – a Johnson and Johnson company
I found this heartfelt tale to be a grabber. What a powerful way to illuminate that racing the clock is of vital import, not only to a company’s leadership posture, but ultimately to the huge impact it can have on customers’ and patients’ well-being!
— Dr. Fred Wiersema, Customer Strategist and Author, The Discipline of Market Leaders
Be Fast or Be Gone puts “meaning” into accelerating projects. Better yet, it puts METHOD into achieving Dramatic, Reliable improvements in speed and quality content in any project management environment. A gripping , understandable, helpful novel for every person wanting to get things done!
— Professor James R. Holt, Engineering & Technology Management, Washington State University
Riveting. Finally, a book that shows us in a practical and engaging way the real impact project management and Critical Chain concepts can have. This story of a father’s quest to save his little boy is extremely real; you will easily identify with the book’s characters. A must read.
— Eric Morfin, Ph.D., PMP; Founder, BioPharmaPM; Partner, Critical Skills Inc.
In a recent Business Week article Lilly’s CEO Lechleiter outlined his strategy to deal with business challenges his company is facing: “Lilly stands to lose $10 billion in annual revenues between now and the end of 2016—almost half its 2009 sales—as patents on three key drugs expire. To replace that, the company must pick up the pace of drug development.” Lilly is not alone. Almost any major pharmaceutical company faces similiar issues. In order to speed up their drug development process, Lilly uses Critical Chain as their sole operating platform to manage drug development projects. Here you find the entire article.
It is rare to get portfolio level data on the impact of Critical Chain. Steven Paul, PhD, President of Lilly Reseach Laboratories, outlines in an Interview with PharmExec the three pillars of Lilly’s business strategy. The first one is the global of adoption of Critical Chain on all Lilly’s R&D projects. He says, “One hundred percent of the projects using critical chain methodology are on track, either at or ahead of their milestones, as compared to about 60 percent of our traditional development projects.” He also mentioned that Lilly is planning to have all projects under Critical Chain by the end of 2009. Lilly had presented early results of their Critical Chain rollout in two presentations at ProChain’s 9th annual user conference back in 2008.
If you like to read up on this, then you might find these links helpful. Enjoy!
eCliniqua covers the newest trends in clinical development with the focus on pharmaceutical companies. In the August 2009 issue they published an article on Critical Chain.
By Deb Borfitz
August 17, 2009 | With pharmaceutical companies today subject to many of the same market forces the semiconductor industry encountered a decade ago, including intense competition and a sluggish product pipeline, operational efficiency is imperative. Read more