- The Goal (novel)
"The Goal" is a novel by Dr.
Eliyahu M. Goldratt, the business consultant who created the Theory of Constraintsmodel for systems management. It was published in 1984.
Like other books by Goldratt, 'The Goal' is written as a piece of fiction. The main character is Alex Rogo, who manages a metalworking plant where everything is always behind schedule. His distant acquaintance, Jonah, who represents Goldratt himself, helps him solve the company's problems through a series of telephone calls and short meetings. A second story line, which only occasionally intersects with the main topic of the book, describes Alex's marital life.
The book goes on to point out the role of bottlenecks (constraints) in a manufacturing process, and how identifying them not only allows for removing them, but also yields a useful tool for measuring and controlling the flow of materials. Alex and his team identify the bottlenecks in the book and immediately begin to implement change to speed up capacity. In response to questions about the logic of using outdated technology, Alex's team brought in an old machine they received for free in order to increase the capacity of the NCX-10 machine, one of the two bottlenecks. They also were careful to make sure the bottlenecks were not starved and sitting idle. They also moved quality control to before the bottleneck instead of after the process. At the second bottleneck, the heat-treat, they re-ordered how batches travel through to eliminate less than capacity runs, and out-sourced overage to a supplier. By careful observation and manipulation of constraints, Alex and his crew manage to make their plant successful, and in the end Alex is rewarded with a major promotion.
In the book Jonah teaches Alex Rogo by using the
Socratic method. Throughout the book whenever a meeting or telephone call dialogue happens with Jonah he poses a question to Alex Rogo or a member of his crew which in turn causes them to talk amongst themselves to come up with a solution to their problem. When Alex Rogo is with his wife he finds the Socratic method to be a way to fix his marriage which he then uses, with his crew, to come up with the five steps they should use to fix problems in the plant which ultimately leads him and Lou to think up the three things every division manager, the position Rogo is promoted to, should be able to do.
The book gives a good example of the
Evaporating Cloudthinking process when Alex Rogo wants to increase the plant's throughput but he can not do so according to a salesman, Johnny Jons, because there are not any deals available. However, later it turns out that there is a deal from a French client who wants a certain part at a low price and in a massive amount, the conflict being they won't make a big profit and Alex's plant can't produce the amount wanted in time. Alex's team comes up with the idea that if they can't produce it all at one time they could produce the quantity in pieces which bumps the price back up because the client isn't ordering in bulk anymore. The French client hears of the plan and makes a deal with Jons even though it's a little more costly which increases the throughput of Alex's plant and the net profit of Unico by finding a win-win solution to a situation that had goals in conflict with each other.
Theory of Constraints
List of project management topics
List of management topics
*Eliyahu M. Goldratt, Jeff Cox. The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement. ISBN 0-88427-061-0 North River Press, Great Barrington, MA.
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