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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars

TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 November 2016
The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement” by Eliyahu Goldratt and Jeff Cox is an absolute classic book for anyone who is concerned with improving the performance of a manufacturing business or indeed with business improvement in general.

It was first published in 1984 this book introduced the world to the Theory of Constraints and explains how much of the focus on improvement is misguided at best and wrong at worst.

I first read "The Goal" in about 1990 when I was finance director of a manufacturing business. I bought it on the Saturday, finished on the Sunday and gave it my operations director on the Monday.

By 7:00 am the next day, we were in my office discussing how The Goal and the theory of constraints could be put to work in our business because he hadn't gone to bed until he'd finished it.

That’s how compelling the book is..

I think it was one of the first business novels and two stories are interlocked in our hero's life:

1. How he can save his struggling plant from closure because performance was so bad.
2. How he can save his crumbling marriage since his personal life was in crisis because he was pouring so much of himself into saving the business.

Both aspects of the story resonate and The Goal hooks it claws in deeper as you read it and recognise that the symptoms the plant is suffering, echo in your own workplace with high costs, backlogs and the frustration that things just don’t get better as fast as you think they should, despite the best efforts of your team.

The hero has help in the form of a mysterious, wise guru who teaches him the theory of constraints by forcing him to search for answers.

The essential idea is that business is a system, and just as the strength of a chain is determined by its weakest link, a system is constrained by one particular operation – the bottleneck.

The logic is that every system must have a bottleneck because otherwise, output would be infinite. "The Goal" is set in a manufacturing plant and this makes it easy to envisage the constraint more clearly than in a service based business but the ideas still apply.

The main message is that you must focus all your attention on the constraint. Doing anything else doesn't help the system to produce more.

The book is critical of how conventional accounting techniques have warped decision making by giving managers the wrong information. As I originally qualified as an accountant, I have mixed feelings about this. The criticisms are genuine but the solutions are effectively part of the long-standing tools of a management accountant in terms of incremental analysis, marginal costing and contribution per limiting factor. Sadly these common sense techniques were often not used because of the impact of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and absorption cost accounting.

I have no hesitation in giving "The Goal" five stars as an eye-opening, mind-expanding, must-read book which shows how management education can be built into a powerful story.

If you are involved in performance improvement, buy the book and keep an open mind as you read it. If you are not in manufacturing, you have some work to do to imagine how the theory of constraints fits into service businesses, distribution businesses and retail businesses.

But try because unless you have a business which makes money hand over fist, your business has a constraint and your fastest way to improve it, is to focus on that constraint.

There are other books by Eliyahu Goldratt and about the Theory of Constraints but I believe this is the place to start and build your foundations.

About my book reviews - My goal is to help you to find the best business advice. I aim to be a tough reviewer because the main cost of a book is not the money to buy it but the time needed to read it and absorb the key messages. 5 stars means that I think that overall it has some vital messages in it.

Paul Simister, business coach.
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on 5 March 2010
Everyone can spot a myriad of problems within any business and in too many cases people try tackling all of them. This amounts to a huge game of 'whack a rat', that circus game where plastic rodents appear out of holes and you bash them with a big rubber hammer to make them go away. Only each time you get rid of one rat, or problem, another appears from a different hole and before long there are loads of problems springing up all over the place. You end up running round in circles trying to fix a never ending growing list of problems. Sound familiar?

The Goal is a business novel set at a manufacturing plant. Don't let this put you off if you're in a business or department that doesn't manufacturing! The physical nature of the problems described in the book helps you to visualise the core message that Goldratt's putting across: The Theory of Constraints (TOC) in which any system can be viewed as a 'chain' and somewhere in that chain is a weak link that limits the throughput of the entire system. Using TOC to correctly identify the weak link, or 'constraint', is a vital first step to solving a multitude of problems. The book goes on to explain how to work with the constraint from a holistic perspective enabling you to focus your activities where they will have the highest possible beneficial impact on your business for the least amount of effort. In other words, TOC tells you which rat to whack!

I've now encountered a few people who've read this book and somehow come away with the impression that it's telling you to focus on local optima -this is certainly not the case. If, after reading the book, you have this view then I'd highly recommend reading The Logical Thinking Process by Dettmer.

TOC in itself is obvious - once you understand it. You'll wonder how you managed to get anything done in the past and recount countless unnecessary endeavours that you would have avoided had you known about TOC sooner.

Other highly recommended books include:

* Goldratt - It's Not Luck (sequel to The Goal)
* Goldratt - The Choice - the simple reasoning that underpins both TOC and also The Logical Thinking Process
* Dettmer - The Logical Thinking Process - one of the greatest works on TOC and TLTP in my opinion
* Various authors - Velocity - great explanation of how to make Lean and Six Sigma deliver results by focussing them with TOC
* Klarman - Release the Hostages - one of the few service orientated TOC books I've found

But before reading any of those, start with The Goal - it's a great introduction to TOC.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 3 May 2016
The use of a fictional story to bring to life a management theory is a neat one, but the characters and dialogue are all pretty basic at best, and often slow moving even cumbersome. It's more interesting to read than a textbook on management theory would be, but not as convenient a reference source nor as enjoyable as a good novel would be.

So you have to battle through some fairly creaky plotting and speaking as the main protagonist, Alex Rogo, tries to turn around a factory and rescue his marriage at the same time.

However, the theory of constraints which Goldratt lays out in the book should be rescued from its means of communication as it is an important one, widely applicable in business and has propelled the book to its multi-million selling status.
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on 8 July 2017
This book is an insightful and enjoyable read. The story will ring true to anyone working in a process that encourages starting an overwhelming quantity of work as deadlines become ever harder to hit.

This third edition finishes with an essay by Eli Goldratt that compares Lean, TPS and "Drum Buffer Rope" as different applications of the same core Lean concepts.

I read the Goal from the perspective of leading change in a service delivery department, where I've used the Kanban Method to guide improvements to our delivery. The goal was the initial inspiration for David Anderson's book Kanban for Successful Evolutionary Change, and it was interesting to read from that perspective.
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on 14 October 2014
Had this book not been recommended to me, I wouldn't have looked at it because of the dull cover and frankly the size of the book, but in terms of business improvement, this book is worth it's weight in GOLD. The lesson is told as a story about a guy who has been given 3 months to turn the success of his manufacturing plant around. Through conversations with his colleagues and life events that happen in his personal life, our hero starts to learn about the true nature of his business, with realisations that fly in the face of traditional business thinking. It's so obvious, you wonder why we are all still barking up the wrong tree. I'm really enjoying the easy way in which the story unfolds and it's comforting to read that the characters 'don't get it' to begin with either, so you feel as if you are learning alongside them. Highly recommended to all business improvers and systems thinkers.
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on 16 February 2015
This book has influenced me to such a large degree. The parallels between Alex's life and mine are so significant it is a little weird. Not only does These similarities exist despite me working in a different industry. Not only does the book teach by asking the reader how to solve the problems facing th plant, but also takes you on a journey through the scientific method, mathematics and the socratic method. The inclusion of family life may seem like a filler at first to pump up the volume of the book but is used not only to emphasise the personal impact of work, but also to show how ideas can spring from experience outside of work.

Didn't put it down cover to cover. The only business book that made me cheer and laugh out loud!
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VINE VOICEon 27 July 2017
I found this to be a very enjoyable and accessible way to learn about Lean Principles and the Theory of Constraints. If only such things were taught in this way and not the dry, technical, monotonous why they usually are.
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on 15 September 2016
This is a book that is easy to read being in a novel form rather than business management style. While just a little dated now it does stimulate the production manager to think in a different way in order to generate better efficiency. Some may say that this is pertinent only to a manufacturing process but its concepts are easily transferred to a service environment with a little bit of imagination. Even in a complex health service it is enlightening to visualise the patient as an initial resource and follow through the 'production' process (GP, hospital, discharge) and gain insights in how it can be improved.
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on 25 May 2017
This is a little out of date now as it was written around 30 or more years ago, but it's an interesting forerunner of the types of the business books we see these days.
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on 2 September 2010
I first read The Goal about 20 years ago - I was working as a design engineer for an automotive manufacturing company and it was seen as essential reading for anybody who wanted to understand the reasoning behind our processes. I recently joined a small manufacturing company whose problems with lead times and satisfying customer demand reminded me that these are not new issues and prompted me to buy this book again.

It's a cliche but I couldn't put it down - the novel style is engaging and far from detracting from the wealth of information in the book, reinforces it with real life examples and analogies. There is a lot to be learnt from this book; on one level it explains the principles behind modern manufacturing processes such as Optimised Production Technology, MRP,Kan-ban etc. Now these techniques are well established it serves as a useful reminder as to their core principles and why they were first introduced. However it also demonstrates some excellent management techniques including how to manage a team, how to tackle complex problems and even how to think.

Although the book is based upon the problems facing the manager of a production facility, the ideas it contains are transferable and I'm struggling to think of a business that wouldn't benefit from them.

If you're involved in business processes (and who isn't?) and haven't read it then I'd strongly recommend you do - at the very least you'll have read a good novel. If, like me you read it a while ago, it is well worth another visit.
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