Applying the Theory of Constraints Thinking Processes


Assignment 2: Applying the Theory of Constraints Thinking Processes
(Marks shown below are out of 100%; page lengths are guidelines)
As you’ll be aware, one of the effects of the lockdown was that buses needed to go cashless to avoid bus drivers having to handle cash. Now the question has been raised as to whether the buses should stay cashless. Greater Wellington Regional Council chairman Daran Ponter has asked council officers to produce an analysis paper discussing the pros and cons of a permanent move of all payments to Snapper cards.

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Your assignment:
Using the TOC TP tools, perform your own analysis of the pros and cons, together with the possible managerial issues that are associated with this decision, and provide guidance to Daran Ponter. The article published 5 May “Could buses go cashless?” that mentioned this dilemma, together with the companion article “Squeeze on public transport”, will provide some background, but you will need to draw on your own experience to support/inform your analysis. You can also use other news articles as needed. Provide references for any sources used.

1. Introduction to report (10 marks; ½-1 page)
Provide a brief introduction for your report, outlining the situation and the TOC TP tools you are going to use.
1-2 paragraphs on each should suffice – up to 1 page in total. Provide references to sources used.

2. Evaporating cloud (20 marks; 1-2 pages)
Use the Evaporating Cloud (EC) method to portray the dilemma of whether or not to go cashless, and come up with some suggestions for how to resolve the dilemma.
You should follow the EC method, ie: start with a brief storyline, construct the cloud, and explain how to read the cloud (ie write out the cloud in words, being careful to use the correct logic).
You can use the quick way to come up with ideas, but also use the full way. You should list at least one assumption per arrow, and provide at least 5 injections indicating which arrow is broken by each injection.
Identify the most promising of your injections.

3. Negative Branch Reservations (25 marks; 2-3 pages)
Starting with either the proposal that buses go cashless or one of your injections, use the Negative Branch Reservation (NBR) method to investigate any negative effects that you foresee and how they may be mitigated, and develop a robust proposal. Draw on your EC and the issues raised in the articles together with your own investigation/experience if necessary.
You should follow the method provided in class and in the TOC Workbook:
• State your starting action clearly, then list anticipated positive and negative effects and construct a negative branch diagram.
• Explain how to read the diagram (ie write out a few parts of the tree in words, being careful to use the correct logic).
• Build a more robust solution – using further injections as needed, including from your earlier EC if appropriate. Show where you would introduce these additional injections.
• Provide a second diagram showing the ‘trimmed’ branch (Future reality branch).
Comment on the insights gained.
NB: Include 2 diagrams – one with the negative effects shown, indicating where you will trim the tree, and a second diagram reworked into a Future Reality Branch with all positive effects (or at least no negative effects). You may wish to use colour coding to make your diagram clearer/easier to read (eg assumptions, bananas, positive and negative effects).

4. Prerequisite Tree (15 marks; 2 pages)
Identify an injection that you think looks like a challenge to implement and construct a Prerequisite Tree (PRT) to consider how you would implement it. The injection could be: the decision to go cashless, or your preferred injection from your EC, or an additional injection from the Future Reality Branch developed in part 3.
To construct your Prerequisite Tree (PRT), identify 6-8 obstacles and their corresponding intermediate objectives, and arrange into a prerequisite tree to achieve the ambitious target.
Explain the method as you go, and how to read the tree (i.e. write out a few parts of the tree in words, being careful to use the correct logic).

5. Goal Tree (GT) (10 marks; 1 page)
Construct a Goal Tree (GT) to convey the overarching goal for the bus system. I suggest you construct a preliminary GT at the start of the analysis but come back and refine it as you discover more through your analysis with the other tools. Include this in your analysis where it fits best.

6. Findings, Conclusions and Reflections (10 marks; ½- 1 page)
Summarise the analysis you have performed, discussing the lessons learnt from each stage and concluding with your recommendations for this case.
Reflect on what you have learnt from conducting this exercise, commenting on the merits and pitfalls of using systems thinking frameworks such as Theory of Constraints Thinking Processes for complex problems.

7. Quality of Report Presentation and Writing (10 marks)
• Structure and style: Structure the report so it flows; lay your work out neatly and logically; use headings.
• Clarity and conciseness: Write clearly and concisely – do not ‘pad’ your work or waffle.
• Correctness: Check grammar, spelling and punctuation, and proofread to remove typos.
• Diagrams: should be typed or neatly hand drawn; text must be easy to read.
• Referencing: Include a list of references and ensure you cite them correctly, following guidance in the WSBG Academic Writing Skills and/or Business Report Writing guides, available at

Your report should be 10 pages including diagrams. (A4 font size 12 pt at 1 or 1½ line spacing, with good sized margins and gaps between paragraphs). Page guidelines are provided above for each section.
You may use the WSBG Business Report Writing style guide if you wish, but this is not mandatory.

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