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Managing your work-traffic efficiently, ‘in spite of’ a rich set of ‘well-intended’ guidelines. Using ‘systems engineering’ to do ‘Constraints Engineering’ and ‘Guides Engineering’.

About the Book

There is a well known Theory of Constraints [1], in very simple terms: ‘identify the factors, currently restricting your production flow, and ease them, or remove them, to improve productivity’. This has always seemed to me to be ‘too simple’, in relation to my working environment. Complex multi-national systems, defence, space, electronics, medicine, finance, aircraft, semiconductors, internet systems, and AI systems. I am not trying to imitate T0C at all, but to develop a set of ideas, definitions and processes about ‘Guides’, as I define them (Tools and Constraints, defined below)

Here is where we expect to add considerable depth and breadth thinking to the conventional thinking about constraints, with our the ‘Theory of Guides’.  

  1. A much richer notion of the ‘constraints’ devices, which we redefine as ‘Guides’. (= ‘Constraints & Tool Devices’).
  2. The idea that Guides are many, dynamic, simultaneous, and specific to life-cycle, and to Stakeholders (like ‘Architect’).
  3. A way to prioritize, analyze, and understand Guides, so that we can deal with them, to our best advantage (efficiency over the life-cycle). Efficiency refers to emphasis on stakeholder Values/Costs during the life-cycle (NOT instantaneous production).  This enhances your effectiveness while spending less energy. This enables you to spend more energy on ensuring you’re working in an effective way.
  4. An emphasis on intellectual work flow (management, engineering, rather than ‘factory flow’), but hoping that the ideas have universal systems application (even in an X factory). [5, Musks Methods] An emphasis on systems engineering, as appropriate for gigantic complex international systems, of today and tomorrow. By Values/Costs = Efficiency, we refer to multiple critical qualities (like security, usability) and multiple cost elements (money, time, talent, long term), not just operational or capital money.
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About the Author

Tom Gilb
Tom Gilb

Tom Gilb has been consulting on management problems, for top management since 1962.  As a result he has developed and refined his own powerful methods for management planning. He has worked for many of these years with his son Kai Gilb. 

These methods are jointly called ‘Planguage’ – a Planning Language. They are unique in helping managers to think quantitatively about the qualitative aspects of their decisions. For example how to quantify ‘engineering productivity’, or general product quality?

Most of the consultancy work is done at the CTO level. Most of it is for technical multinationals, and some financial groups. Most of the work is for planning organizational improvement in productivity and quality (for 10,000 engineers for example). The rest is about big projects (like 1,000 engineers, $100 million).

Tom does not profile himself as a management consultant. In fact he  works at the grass roots of advanced engineering, systems, software, aircraft, IT, telecoms, electronics. 

This often leads to meeting top managers who appreciate his methods, and become clients. There is a well-documented successful spread of his methods at HP, IBM (CMM 4) and Intel (20,000 engineers trained there in his methods). Other interesting famous method-user organizations are Boeing, Citigroup, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, Philips,  Ericsson, Nokia, Tata Consultancy, Microsoft, Equinor and many others, smaller and less famous.

In June 2024 Nicholas Coutts at GilbFest #25 told us of over 220 startup projects with 3 year success rate of 83% using Toms Planguage (Competitive Engineering) ideas, as a clear causal contributor. See "Some examples of technology for good” This made me prouder than all the big corporations we helped! I worked with him directly on some of these startups.

Tom has been invited to lecture at dozens of  universities worldwide (including Berkeley, Stanford, London School of Economics, Imperial College). 

He has previously published nine paper books. The 2005 book is ‘Competitive Engineering’.  

He has spent 2 years  (2014-2015) working on his new book ‘Value Planning’, especially for top managers. Published initially on LeanPub 2016.

In 2018-2024 He produced about 35+ books digitally.About 5 annually. Most at Leanpub, or or (with quite a few papers, slides, experiments, older book chapters etc.). It is his way of leaving good technical ideas behind, for when professionals grow to need and appreciate them even better!

In 2020, long course-length videos were made by Oslo Software Architecture (OSWA), based on the SEA Systems Enterprise Architecture book,

And many long videos about the books were made by BCS SPA SG such as for the Sustainability Planning book.


BCS made: Value Requirements video 22 April 2020, 3 hours

and many other of my book videos are below this one on that site.

In 2012 he was made Honorary Fellow of the British Computer Society. 

More information, and many publications, at A 'Tom Gilb' search will tell about things not mentioned here.

He lives in Norway, near Oslo, in Summer Fjordside at the cabin, and is both Norwegian (as of December 2015) and US Citizen (1940).

In 2024, he is 83. He is 'commercially retired', avoids travel, but quite active in spreading his ideas, mentoring disciples, learning what is going on.

Not very impressed with the level of methods for IT/Agile gang. They are nowhere near seriously doing software and systems engineering. Far too many top managers and professors who still cannot quantify critical values and qualities. Responsibility and motivation for serious success and quality seems totally lacking. Sad, the 'war against ourselves'.

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