The “most binding constraint” refers to the most severe weakness of a system.
It is a way of thinking that prioritises impact over urgency and ease and other considerations.
The thing that most needs to be done – the most binding constraint – is not the easiest, nor is it the one with the shortest timeframe, it is the thing that will really “shift the dial” and create a “step change” toward better performance.
The “most binding constraint” concept is applied to political decision-making in the quote below, but could apply to decision-making at the firm and individual level too.
“Rather than trying to address all areas at the same time, better results can be expected if governments diagnose the most binding constraint their economy confronts at any given moment.
Searching for a lost car-key at night in the light of a nearby street lamp, regardless of where the key was lost in the first place, but “because that is where the light shines” will not likely start the engine.”
Source: Singapore’s Success: Engineering Economic Growth