Before I knew the Theory of Constraints (TOC) existed I knew something about constraints. College for me was something that was done after my 10-12 hour military duties on nights and weekends. To achieve my career goals I often had to take more than one class at a time. I would have more family time if I selected classes that were complimentary to one another.
What’s a complimentary class?
A complimentary class is one where the research and learning in one class can be applied in the other class. It’s a pretty simple concept. Take classes that make sense together. While I applied this as opportunity permitted while working on my associates degree I took it to a whole new level while working on my bachelors.
In order to participate in an Army program for school I had to finish my bachelors in 18 months and make them the most productive possible. Some of the coursework from my associates had to be redone in that time frame. For example, I had taken the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) test in English which is supposed to be worth six semester hours of English credit. My associates program required me to take English in person, so I did. During the course I asked the professor what my grade would be if I never remembered the rule about who and whom. She told me something like mid-high 90s on the final, and that’s what I got. I aced all the other questions, but the who/whom rule is something to this day I rely on proofreading tools to fix.
The CLEP and English associates courses didn’t count towards my bachelors either. So there I was in my second semester as a full-time student. On loan to the school from the Army with a limited window to get my degree and needing to take classes that I’d essentially already gotten credit for. Thankfully I learned a few things that first semester about scaling-up the amount of complementary classes and took it to a whole new level.
I took English and Rhetoric at the same time. Information from those classes flowed well into the international business course that included persuasion as part of the covered material. I also took a course on cross-cultural differences, small unit leadership and general leadership skills. Research from one class could be used across multiple classes. It was a lovely semester and it’s a good thing it all worked out too. That was the same semester we had our third child and without a course schedule like this I wouldn’t have finished on time or been able to spend much time being a dad and helping out the family.
|ENGL||2010||UG||INTERMEDIATE WRITING (CL2)||A||3|
|GEO||3100||UG||NATURAL DISASTERS (DSC)||B||3|
|MHR||3820||UG||INTERNATIONAL MGMT (DSS)||B+||3|
|MS||2020||UG||SMALL UNIT LDRSHIP||A||2|
|MS||4610||UG||MIL HISTORY SEM (DHA)||A||3|
|SPCH||5000||UG||ST: COMM CRITICISM||B+||3|
How is this the Theory of Constraints?
As I mentioned before I didn’t know TOC existed. The term was not in my vocabulary, but the concept was. Research at school was the most time consuming aspect of that first full-time semester. Time for research was the constraint. So, I needed to maximize the output value of any of the time spent in research. I’d like to think that for that second semester I did a pretty good job with that. TOC’s versatility doesn’t extend to just the classes either. It can also extend to the goals of what to do with the work created during the classes.