The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt
“A chain is no stronger than its weakest link.” This idiom is a simple foundation of the theory of constraints, the fundamental management philosophy introduced and explained in The Goal through a fictional story that describes the very real process of product manufacturing and its numerous challenges. Alex Rogo, the main character, has recently moved back to his hometown with his family, and he works as a manager at a Uniware Division plant that is constantly failing to meet expectations. His life at home is also rocky, as his wife is unsatisfied with the boring life in their town. The novel narrates the day-to-day problems that Alex faces and illustrates an effective approach to coming up with solutions for them. At the beginning of the story, Alex runs into trouble with his boss, Bill Peach. A dispute that had started with an overdue order has escalated into an ultimatum – Alex is given three months to turn the plant around, and unless there are visible improvements, it will be shut down. Currently, the plant is in a disastrous state, with multiple conflicts popping up one after the other and shipments being seriously delayed. During a meeting at the headquarters where everyone is given goals for the next quarter, Alex remembers his recent encounter at the airport with Jonah, his former physics professor. Alex had been on his way to deliver a lecture about robots, which he believed would increase efficiency at the plant, but when he proudly relates the idea to Jonah, the latter is skeptical and questions Alex’s business decisions. He tells Alex that all companies have only one goal, and the only productive activities are those that lead to the goal’s achievement. At this point, Alex feels somewhat offended because he has an MBA while Jonah is a scientist. In the present time, the meeting goes into a break, and Alex realizes that the “goal” is money. He determines that ‘productivity’ and ‘working’ are two separate things,...
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