The book “The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement” by Eliyahu M. Goldratt took me by surprise. I had forgotten by the time I got around to listening to the audiobook that it was a novel. I just knew I needed to read Goldratt and was starting with his first book. Despite its initial 90’s HR film feel, it was compelling and walked me through the trials and tribulations, both professional and personal, of an plant manager whose plant was near ruin. I listened as he applied Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints and turned his plant around. Beyond that, it teaches you to drill down to the actual goal. We often forget what our original goal is by the time we get mired down in the minutia. We forget that the metrics aren’t the point. What, your burndown sucks right now? Well, have you strayed from your goal? Are you delivering the most value possible to your company? That’s the goal. The metric may not always give you the true health of your march towards the goal. So enlightening. It is definitely a must read (or listen!)

Why use the Theory of Constraints?

I am going to summarize Goldratt’s Brief Introduction to TOC. Who better than to learn from than the master himself? Goldratt states that in general, the constraint of an organization is that it is “structured, measured, and managed¬†in parts, rather than as a whole.” Because of that constraint, he states, ¬†organizations perform far below their potential. If you remove the conditions enforcing the constraint then you experience significant and sustainable improvement in all of the problem areas for the organization. The reason most organizations don’t recognize and/or address the real constraint is that they are too busy with the demands of the present to begin fixing the future or that they are afraid of the risk of the change.

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