Episode 64: The Bottleneck Rules w/Clarke Ching

29 June, 2021 / Host: MAGNUS BILLGREN

Unlocking Your Product's Potential 

In today's ever-changing world, filled with both risks and opportunities, the product industry is ripe with potential for growth and success. However, many product individuals find themselves facing challenges that hinder their progress, such as a lack of developers, resources, or an ineffective sales organization. To overcome these obstacles and achieve holistic product success, it's crucial to adopt a bottleneck thinking approach. Enter Clarke Ching, a renowned author and bottleneck expert hailing from New Zealand. Drawing inspiration from the Theory of Constraints (ToC), Ching's bottleneck thinking methodology empowers product professionals to invest wisely, optimize resources, and reach their goals. In this article, we'll delve into Ching's insightful thoughts on working with bottlenecks and explore his FOCCCUS formula: Find, Optimize, Coordinate, Collaborate, Curate, and Start Again.

Find: Identifying the Bottleneck

To effectively manage bottlenecks, the first step is to locate them within your product ecosystem. Ching encourages product individuals to be vigilant and actively look for queues or areas where work accumulates. By testing various processes and analyzing flow patterns, you can pinpoint the bottleneck that limits your team's productivity and efficiency.

Optimize: Maximizing Bottleneck Utilization

Once the bottleneck is identified, the next step is to optimize its utilization. Rather than trying to eliminate the bottleneck, Ching advises product professionals to capitalize on its potential by maximizing its output. By carefully managing the flow of work through the bottleneck, you can ensure optimal utilization of available resources and streamline overall productivity.

Coordinate: Efficiently Managing Bottlenecks

Effectively coordinating the use of bottlenecks is essential for maintaining a well-functioning product ecosystem. Ching emphasizes the importance of synchronizing different processes and teams to minimize disruptions and bottlenecks caused by misalignment. By fostering collaboration and communication among team members, you can ensure a smoother workflow and enhance overall productivity.

Curate: Adding Resources Strategically

In some cases, adding additional resources can help alleviate bottlenecks and enhance productivity. However, Ching advises product individuals to curate and introduce resources in smart ways. Rather than simply increasing headcount, it is essential to strategically evaluate the need for additional resources and ensure they are deployed in areas where they can have the most significant impact.

Start Again: Strategically Reassessing and Iterating

Bottleneck thinking is not a one-time fix; it requires continuous assessment and iteration. Ching emphasizes the importance of periodically revisiting and reassessing bottlenecks to identify changes in the product ecosystem. By starting the process again, product professionals can adapt to new challenges, refine their strategies, and stay ahead in a dynamic market.


  • Identify and capitalize on bottlenecks: By actively seeking out bottlenecks in your product ecosystem, you can maximize their potential instead of trying to eliminate them. Optimize their utilization to streamline productivity.
  • Foster coordination and collaboration: Efficiently managing bottlenecks requires synchronized processes and cross-functional collaboration. By fostering communication and teamwork, you can reduce disruptions and enhance overall productivity.
  • Continuously reassess and iterate: Bottleneck thinking is an ongoing process. Regularly revisit and reassess your bottlenecks to adapt to changing circumstances. By strategically iterating your approach, you can stay ahead and drive success in a dynamic market.

Now that you have a clear understanding of the importance of addressing bottlenecks in product development and management, you might be interested in taking your skills to the next level. If you're looking to enhance your expertise in product management and take a significant step towards advancing your career, consider enrolling in The Productbeats Product Management Certification Program. This comprehensive program offers a structured curriculum designed to equip you with the knowledge and practical skills needed to excel in the dynamic field of product management. With a focus on real-world applications and industry best practices, this certification program will empower you to navigate complex challenges, drive innovation, and lead successful product initiatives. Don't miss the opportunity to elevate your product management skills and join a community of like-minded professionals. Explore The Productbeats Product Management Certification Program today and unlock your full potential in the realm of product management.
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