Eliyahu Goldratt's the Goal

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While a review along the lines of “Goal readers are now doing the best work of their lives” might seem like hyperbole for most books, it is surprisingly accurate for Eliyahu Goldratt’s book. Perhaps part of The Goal’s allure is the fictional novel format in which it is written, setting it apart from other books focused on explaining a method. The novel starts with its main character, Alex Rogo, struggling to create success for a manufacturing plant making some fictional product and a threat that if they don’t turn the plant around in three months, the plant will be shut down. No matter what Alex and his merry band of managers do to improve productivity, they continue to struggle with meeting customer delivery commitments at a profitable price point. Until Alex fortuitously reconnects with his old physics professor in an airport waiting lounge who offers sage but somewhat obtuse advice, all hope seems to be lost. It is Alex’s realization that a business’ sole purpose is to make money, and his struggle to incorporate his mentor’s counsel that leads the reader down an interesting and ‘difficult to put down’ journey to understanding Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints (TOC) methodology. At the beginning of the novel, Goldratt lucidly explains his thesis and what he believes the goal of the business is: to reduce operational expense and reduce inventory while simultaneously increasing throughput. The goal is not to improve one measurement in isolation. Throughout the novel the author uses subtle devices to help Alex reach cathartic moments to breakthrough seemingly insurmountable roadblocks. Alex is invited to chaperone his son’s Boy Scout camping trip only to find out the troop master is sick and has delegated leadership to Alex. Just like the factory work cells, the boys have different capacities and speeds, and one such boy (Herbie) turns out to be the troop bottleneck. As they struggle to meet their commitment to achieve the hike length in the prescribed time,...
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