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4.5 out of 5 stars
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This novel succeeds in being outstanding at so many levels that it could receive a multiple of five stars. It is hard to imagine a management book in novel form ever approaching this one in usefulness. Most people will learn more that they can apply from this book about management than many people learn to apply from an M.B.A.
The basic story is built around the dilemmas facing Alex Rogo, a newly-appointed plant manager. The plant can't seem to ship, it's losing money, and bad things can happen to good people if all this doesn't change soon. Alex is at a loss for what to do until he pulls out a cigar that Jonah, a physicist from Israel, had recently given him. That cigar reminds him to contact Jonah for possible help. From there, the path to recovery begins.
Let me describe some of the many levels on which this novel is valuable.
First, the book explains how to see businesses as systems as well as any other book on this subject. It compares favorably in this area to such important works as The Fifth Discipline and the Fifth Discipline Handbook. The metaphor of how to speed up a slow-moving group of boy scouts will be visceral to anyone who has done any hiking with a group.
Second, the book helps you learn how to improve the performance of a system by providing you with a replicable process that you can apply to analyzing any human or engineering system. The primary metaphor is improving a manufacturing process, but the same principles apply more broadly to other circumstances.
Third, you will experience the power of the Socratic method as a way to stimulate your mind to learn, and to use Socratic questions to stimulate the minds of others to become better thinkers and doers.
Fourth, the authors also use problem simulation as a practical way to help you experience the learning process they are advocating.
Fifth, the book is unusually good in bringing home the consequences of letting your business process run in a vicious cycle: Your family life may also.
The pacing of the book is especially good. You are given time to stew with issues and come up with your own ideas before sample answers are provided by Alex and his staff in the novel.
Unlike many books that take complicated ideas and oversimplify them so the ideas lose their meaning, this book simplifies ideas in ways that enhance their meaning by making the ideas easier to see and employ.
If you do not understand all of the ins and outs of typical factory accounting, you may get a little lost from time to time. But that's not a problem. That accounting just distorts common perceptions of what needs to be done. You can safely skip anything you don't understand if you don't have to deal with such issues.
While I did not observe any overt errors in the book, companies that do not put an asset charge on operational assets could make the mistake from this book of seeking too little profit. You need to earn on-going returns that exceed your cost of capital, too.
You will get the most from this book if you read The Fifth Discipline following it (if you have not read that book already). The discussion of the beer game simulation in The Fifth Discipline will add to your understanding of system dynamics.
Following that book, I suggest that you then read The Balanced Scorecard and The Strategy-Focused Organization for ideas about how to use goals, measurements, and rewards to concentrate attention onto the highest leverage areas for your system.
After you have finished employing what you have learned and helping others around you to learn more also, I suggest that you think about how to optimize the full upside potential more rapidly through the use of irresistible forces and 2,000 percent solutions to speed your progress. That should leave you with even more success and more time to enjoy it.
Unblock the constraints on your progress!
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on 6 July 1999
This book was recommended to me as part of my management degree at UMIST. It is a must for anybody with an interest in manufacturing and management. It deals with all sorts of manufacturing issues inventory / capacity / lean production etc but tells the tale in a novel based format that is exciting and meaningful. How many textbooks do you read, put down and then remember about 2% of ? This book ensures that you remember 90 % of the principles for years to come. An excellent management tool.
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on 19 October 2001
This book tells the story of a plant manager fighting to save its business. So you would think that it is directed to manufacturing managers who want to improve their operations; not at all. I work in software quality and this book has been very helpful to put the theory I learned during my MBA in perspective and helped me see how I can use this theory. Warning: Once you start this book, you won't be able to put it down.
Note, however, that this book is not a scientific book about the theory of constraints, lean manufacturing, or inventory management. But after you finish this book, you want to learn more about those concepts.
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on 26 November 2001
I agree with the other reviews here, that this book is a can't put down item, although a takes a 2nd read to start to understand the concept more clearly and then the even more difficult bit is actually being able to put that concept into practice within an organisation, I strongly believe that not only does the entire culture of the organisation need changing in line with the TOC concept but it must be part and parcel of the way the whole organisations operates. I work in large global telecoms company and we are just beginning to adopt this way of thinking in our business and are due to start making in roads into the cultural issues surrounding the adoption of TOC.
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You find yourself reading a very interesting and gripping Novel about a guy called Alex Rogo, a plant manager, frantically attempting to save his plant, his job and his wife. As a stand alone Novel, the book is compulsive reading but the fast-moving story, is the vehicle Eliyahu Goldratt uses to communicate a powerful management theory : the theory of constraints, a fascinating theory he himself developed. It get's into common manufacturing problems (bottle-necks, set-ups, resource management) offering clear and concise solutions. It's a great read and unlike the One Minute manager series, there's no touchy/feely stuff.
Excellent book !
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on 27 June 2002
I really enjoyed this book. It works. It's a business book but it's message is woven into a novel with a plot, a hero, a climax and a happy ending.
As a non-business person, I can't really tell if the business ideas are sound or not. They seem to be plausible and they are appealing; particularly the ideas that relate to the futility of many modern management techniques.
The writer sells us his theories by letting the underdog characters - those on the factory floor (hero included) - show us that the conventional way of doing things doesn't work. Only by rebelling and taking risks, are the underdogs able to turn their factory around. The bad guys, that is, management in their ivory towers, are more of a hindrance than a help. Somehow, this all rings true - the writer really taps into something about management not having a clue.
The hero is made attractive to us because he doesn't have all the solutions himself. He is forced to nut out many of his new concepts with his colleagues. Their team work and team spirit is
inspirational. They come across as mere mortals, prone to latching onto erroneous beliefs and only after much blood, sweat and tears are they able to make their triumphal breakthroughs.
The road to these breakthroughs is a gripping ride: will the team, lead by Alex, the hero, be able to save the factory? The clock is ticking and with the solution of each problem, comes new problems. Nail biting stuff! Some of the jargon gets tedious at times but most of it can be skimmed through.
Some proof of the effectiveness of this book's ability to sell its message is that it makes me want to rush out and try to solve all of my problems - not just business ones - by applying the techniques canvassed in the book.
The thing I like most about this book is that one could easily justify reading it at work.
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on 6 August 2001
I first read this book as part of my Business Studies Degree and this played an invaluable role in my learning process....
Since that time I have been working in various ares of business and have recently ended up running the operations management for a large organisation. As a result I decided to repurchase the book that provided such a good base for me.
This book is written in a manner that deals with complex issues and puts them into a simple yet excellent form that highlights the major points of what is important in this field.
Ultimately, the Goal tries to show how a business should look at issues with a view of increasing profitability. A must!
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on 18 January 2016
A brilliant and inspiring novel. Goldratt hides his world famous manufacturing theories within the book's story so that you are no longer reading a boring text book but a gripping and fast paced novel.
Would recommend to anyone working in manufacturing or operations management.
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on 7 September 2003
Bought the book on the Monday and received it on the Friday. It's now the Sunday and I have read the book non-stop all weekend. I have now logged on to buy more books by the same author. 100% engaging. How often can you say that about a text book ?
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on 27 August 2008
Stories are one of the best ways to teach. Eliyahu Goldratt is a master at weaving a tale to teach a crucial concept in manufacturing.

The Goal is the story of locating bottlenecks and streamlining a manufacturing line. The story is full of twists and turns, a super consultant named Jonah who speaks in riddles and a cast of believable characters. To make the story even more believable it is spiced with real life problems at home that our hero Alex must solve simultaneously while he is desperately trying to save the plant he is responsible for from closing down.

Goldratt is on a mission to take manufacturing form an art to a science and this is his way of doing just that. The book is well worth the time for anyone interested in using critical thinking and common sense to solve manufacturing problems. Highly recommended!

The Re-Discovery of Common Sense: A Guide To: The Lost Art of Critical Thinking

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