The Goal (novel)
|Author||Eliyahu M. Goldratt|
|Publisher||North River Press|
|LC Class||PR9510.9.G64 G6 2004|
|Followed by||It's Not Luck|
The Goal is a management-oriented novel by Dr. Eliyahu M. Goldratt, a business consultant whose Theory of Constraints has become a model for systems management. It was originally published in 1984 and has since been revised and republished in 1992, 2004, and 2014. This book is usually used in college courses and in the business world for case studies in operations management, with a focus geared towards the Theory of Constraints, bottlenecks and how to alleviate them, and applications of these concepts in real life. This book is widely used in leading colleges of management to teach students about the importance of strategic capacity planning and constraint management.
Like other books by Goldratt, The Goal is written as a piece of fiction. The main character is Alex Rogo, who manages a production plant owned by UniCo Manufacturing, where everything is always behind schedule and things are looking dire. At the beginning of the book, Bill Peach, a company executive, tells Alex that he has three months to turn operations at his plant around from being unprofitable and unreliable to being successful. His distant acquaintance, Jonah (a physicist), whom many believe represent 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 but to which concepts Jonah teaches are also applied, 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 makes it possible to reduce their impact, but also yields a useful tool for measuring and controlling the flow of materials. Alex and his team identify the bottlenecks in their process and immediately begin to implement changes to help increase capacity and speed up production. In response to questions about the logic of using outdated technology in modern manufacturing, Alex's team brought in an old machine they received for free (which had previously been used at their plant in conjunction with two other machines) in order to increase the capacity of the NCX-10 machine, which had been identified as one of the two bottlenecks. Further more, they identified processes at the heat treat, identified as their second bottleneck, that caused massive delays in their getting product through the heat-treat and which had also caused some products to be heat-treated multiple times (to make softer and then harder again) instead of just once or not at all.
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.
- Alex Rogo - main character, manufacturing plant manager
- Bill Peach - division vice-president
- Fran - Alex's secretary
- Jonah - advisor
- Lou - chief accountant
- Stacey - the plant inventory manager
- Julie Rogo - Alex Rogo's wife
- Bob Donovan - Production Manager
- Herbie - the bottleneck and the solution