discovery Workshop

skill buffers

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Excerpted from Appendix A

p. 185, The Demand Driven Adaptive Enterprise by Carol Ptak and Chad Smith (Industrial Press, 2018)
The Demand Driven Skill Model by Caroline MONDON

Much has been written about how a Demand Driven Operating Model (DDOM) protects and promotes flow with stock, time, and capacity buffers in companies facing competition in today’s VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world. What about the people and skills that it takes to operate, support, and adapt a DDOM?

   Too many businesses experience symptoms of flow disruption due to missing skills at critical times. Depending on how often and how long it takes to find an alternative, skills scarcities are like bottlenecks, obstructing a company’s profitability, growth, and capability to innovate.

   In order to anticipate future flow blockages due to missing skills, decisions to finance hiring or training for specific skills are taken at the strategic level, with feedback loops at the tactical level to secure implementation. A visual approach to priorities can be used in a similar fashion as stock, time and capacity buffers. Assessment of the company's buffer enables monitoring of the progress in change management.

The Demand Driven Skill Model (DDSM)

Used in combination with the DDOM, the DDSM allows visualization of where, in its own complex system of departments and workshops, a company must invest to protect its flow (figure 1).

   To acquire and maintain the essential resource of human skill, the DDSM addresses where the priorities are by means of a fourth buffer type, a skill buffer, to be used in combination with the other buffers of the DDOM.

Fig.1 : Example of a DDSM combined with its DDOM including a Drum Buffer Rope, during DDI trainings

The Skill Buffer Symbol

The symbol for the skill buffer is a head shown in profile, facing left (when no training is in progress) or right (when training is in process); red, yellow, or green in colour; marked with a number from 1.0 to 4.0. Red means there is a short-term risk to flow if only one employee can manage 100% of processes related to the skill. Yellow anticipates a risk of insufficient contingency for variability. Green means all is good.

   This first step is the visual approach to gaining missing skills per department. As a second step, when a company has gained maturity in protecting flow, the colors can be used to show internal trainers’ availability to teach innovation that will promote flow in each of the key processes of the company.

The Multiskills Matrix

The numbers shown in the skill buffer symbol derive from a simple calculation based on the Multiskills Matrix (figure 2). This grid describes the level of skill each employee can demonstrate for any function.

   All the functions will be listed in order to encompass all the processes of the company.

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Fig.2 : The four levels of skill in the Multiskills Matrix

The requirements for each level must be customized to each company’s activity and maturity.

   The number shown on the skill buffer symbol indicates the average level of employee skill, calculated using the green squares, that a group of skills, a function or a department can demonstrate.

   As with all Demand Driven buffers, color is considered first. Then, within the highest priority color, strategic decisions about training plan priorities start with the group of functions having the lowest number.

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Fig.3 : DDSM promoting innovation: calculation for two departments shown in Fig.1 before DDI trainings

Dilemma between competencies and competitivity

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Plant Manager : 6 years

• design and manufacture of robots for the nuclear industry

• design and manufacture of electronic equipment for the train industry

Supply Chain implementation in SME of various industries : 15 years

• Start the department SC: implement S&OP, scheduling processes, ERP, recruit, train the teams


Supply Chain & Logistics Director for 10 plants in 7 countries : 4 years

• Manufacture of wiring systems for the automotive industry, functional network of 700 employees


Consultant owner of CM Entreprises since 2005

• Seminars on Sales & Operations Plan with for executives in 4 continents

• APICS Instructor CPIM and CSCP certifications since 1994

• The Fresh Connection serious game trainer since 2011, co-designer of the DDS&OP version

• Demand Driven Institute trainer since 2014, co-designer and master instructor of DDSC Fundamentals



General Manager of Fapics the French association of Supply Chain Management

• In charge of international and national partnerships since 2011


Author of a best selling business detective novel “The Missing links”

Inspired by Dc Eli Goldratt

• French MRPII version “le chainon manquant” published by AFNOR in 2005

• National award “Quality and performance principles” in 2010, 3d edition published in 2015

• DDMRP version “The Missing Links” Published in July 2016 by Industrial Press USA

Caroline MONDON
Master Instructor
Demand Driven Institute
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Skill BufferS



OCTOBER 10, 2019

Skill BufferS


 Minneapolis - USA

APRIL 10, 2019

Skill BufferS


 Tanger - Maroc

MARCH 14, 2019