The Goal

The Goal
Eliyahu Goldratt and Jeff Cox
Published by Gower Publishing,
ISBN 0-566-08665-4
Price: £16.95 (paperback)

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Twenty years ago, Eliyahu Goldratt popularised – nay, invented – the genre of ‘capitalist realism’.

He wrote The Goal, a novel that tried to make process and change management, and production accountancy techniques, interesting. This is obviously challenging but the book sold by the skip-load.

Goldratt used The Goal to expound his Theory of Constraints, which involves spotting bottlenecks in a production process and dealing with them. Find the most serious bottleneck, get rid of it, and the production process improves.

The novel is realistic in style and uses thriller writing techniques. Our hero, UniWare plant manager Alex Rogo, has 90 days to save his factory in fictional Bearington. He finds a saviour-guru in a mysterious college friend named Jonah, draws lessons from a scout hike, identifies the process bottlenecks and gets a bonus. But every thriller needs a sub-plot, and The Goal ’s is Rogo’s rocky relationship with sullen and simpering spouse, Julie, reminiscent of Sue Ellen in the 1980s soap Dallas.

This style, content and plot structure will be familiar to fans of an altogether more hapless genre of the 1930s, ‘Socialist Realism’, where tales of Soviet tractor factory heroes meeting Joe Stalin’s five-year targets were told in a similar style. Such achievers received negative bonuses: if they hit their goals, then they weren’t shot, or shipped to Siberia.

Fortunately, capitalist realism heroes receive positive rewards. The reward for the first-time reader is that Goldratt does present and explain dull topics and issues in a simple and well-paced fashion.

If you have management staff who want to grasp some useful accountancy and process manage-ment theories, it’s a handy introduction. but as a third edition I thought it could be bought into the 21st century.

 

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