It’s not for nothing that The Goal is one of the best selling management books of all time. Written by Eliyahu Goldratt, it is unlike any of those business management books which leave you overwhelmed with jargon and unsolicited advice. The book is presented to the reader in the form of fiction which follows the story of a young manager named Alex Rogo trying to turn around the poor performance of his production plant at a time when his marriage is unravelling. Although written in 1984, it succeeds in bringing forth the contemporary problems faced by today’s managers and proposes feasible solutions for the same. It is interesting to note that the author, despite being a physicist who has not worked in the actual industry has made the content of the book very lucid. The character Jonah draws direct inspiration from the author’s life. Although the book is written from the point of view of the manufacturing industry, the principles applied by Alex can be applied in other fields as well as in one’s personal life. The story defines “The Theory of Constraints” which involves the identification of the weakest link in the chain as the chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The chain over here is the series of processes and machines that are involved in the plant’s manufacturing process.
Alex Rogo works as a Plant Manager in UniCo, a manufacturing firm. One fine morning Alex receives a bolt from the blue when his boss Bill Peach comes down to his plant and issues him an ultimatum. Alex has three months to transform his unproductive plant into a productive one or face a shutdown. Alex sits down with his team: Lou, Fran, Stacey and Bob to contemplate a plan of action. He seeks advice from his long distance mentor Jonah, a physicist whenever he is in a dilemma. Jonah’s implicit words of wisdom are put into practice by Alex. The next three months turn into a tightrope walk for him as he tries to balance work with his crumbling marriage. Alex’s wife Julie is at the end of her wits due to the perennial indifference shown by him towards her and their kids. Alex and his team manage to identify the bottlenecks and after a number of trials and errors finally succeed in improving the productivity of the plant and are thus able to avoid the closure of the plant by delivering profits. The story ends on a happy note wherein Alex wins back Julie and earns a promotion. Aptly, the climax comes with a disclaimer where managing the new plant is to present a new challenge and an opportunity to Alex.
The Goal is highly recommended for budding managers not just in the field of Operations but in all other specialisations. Not only does it talk about the technical aspects of management, it gives you an insight into the struggles faced by today’s corporate managers who find it tough to balance their careers with their personal lives. So don’t wait anymore, grab a copy and find yourself a shade smarter.