CTech’s Book Review: A novel lesson in management principles

Nir Feldman is the Chief Engineering Officer at Skai, a platform for marketers to gain data-driven market intelligence, media execution, and measurement technology. He has joined CTech to share a review of “The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement” by Eliyahu Goldratt.

Title: “The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement”
Author: Eliyahu Goldratt
Format: Audiobook
Where: Commute

“The Goal” is a book designed to influence traditional industry to move toward continuous improvement. First published by Eliyahu Goldratt in 1984, it has remained a perennial bestseller ever since.

The book is written in a way that incorporates essential principles in management and the theory of constraints in a story that keeps the reader engaged throughout the whole journey.

This can be an eye-opener for leaders and managers on all levels and drive real improvement into any production process.

Alex, an educated and competent manager at UniCo, is excited to get transferred back to his hometown plant at Bearington with his family. Yet his moment of bliss quickly evaporates once he realizes that UniCo’s shipments are always late and their production backlog is growing, yet somehow inventories also keep soaring. The factory faces disastrous difficulties and Corporate threatens with closing, so Alex resolves to do whatever it takes to save the manufacturing plant…

Meanwhile, his wife, Julie, struggles to adjust to the monotonous life in the small town. Alex’s long hours at the office put additional strain on their relationship, as things go from bad to worse.

Given three months to turn the plant around, Alex chances to bump into his old Physics professor, Jonah, who challenges his thinking and provides a series of clues about how to save the division.

Jonah takes on complex subjects like “productivity” and defines them in simple terms. For example: “Every action that brings a company closer to its goal is productive. Every action that does not bring a company closer to its goal is not productive.” But what is the goal?

Following Jonah’s clues, Alex mobilizes his team at the plant to find ways to improve the flow of production and somehow ship the huge backlog of orders on time. Along the way, they discover the importance of constraints and learn how to manage them to achieve growth and profitability.

Alex eventually realizes that the goal is not cost-effective purchasing, employing the right team members, the latest technology, producing quality products, capturing market share, customer satisfaction, etc. but rather making more and more money

Once the plant’s operations stabilize, Alex finds himself spending more time with his family. He wins back his wife’s affection and his plant suddenly becomes the most productive one in the company. Alex is promoted to President at UniCo and entrusted with the task of implementing Jonah’s advice throughout the entire division.

First and foremost, this engaging novel puts in the center what we all know but keep pushing to the back of our heads – the goal of any commercial company is to make money.

As a leader of a big technology department, I find myself being dragged into the optimization of existing processes, solving specific bottlenecks in the production of features, and into production incidents, while the main focus should be on how to find the major investments and optimization that will excel our software factory (this is what we’re producing) in creating valuable features or new products.

I recommend that each leader sit with his/her team and discuss the corporate goals and not only the specific KPIs.

None. I loved the book, it simplifies a very complex problem and crystallizes it in a memorable way.

Who Should Read This Book:

Anyone who leads an organization or a mission of any size.

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