The Goal


Posted by khrishan on 2018-11-21

So this book was part of a 'drunken recommendation' from someone from work.

I'm so glad he did. :D

If you were to think about all the "corporate games" that are played in the office, this book will remind you what really matters.

It's a fascinating book.

Rather than being written as a 'self help' book - it's written as a story. In addition, it's a well rounded portrayal of a manager/director in a tenuous position - I'll go more into that later.

Alex Rogo is a corporate hostshot, who is progressing well in his company. He's a director of a manufacturing plant (manufacturing what - I do not know - I don't think the book said). But his plant is in trouble. It's profits & productivity are down - and Alex's boss gives him an ultimatum.

"Turn the plant's fortune around in 3 months, or it shuts!"

He calls on his old school friend, "Jonah", a physicist by training, who gives him some very valuable advice, advice it seems he's selling for a lot of money elsewhere.

The book is very mysterious about Jonah. At the beginning, all conversations with him are short, and very 'cryptic'.

He asks Alex "What the goal of his company was?". After doing what I would call the 'typical corporate thing' of saying everything but the actual goal (improve efficiencies, keeping costs down, make everyone productive etc), he comes up with the answer.

To Make Money!

Jonah tells Alex about the three measures in which Alex should measure success.

  • Throughput
  • Inventory
  • Operational Expense

ThroughputThe rate at which the system generates money through sales.
InventoryAll the money that a system has invested in purchasing things which it intends to sell.
Operational ExpenseAll the money the ststem spends in order to turn inventory into throughput.


By measuring all processes & results by these parameters, Alex was about to help turn around the plants fortunes.

Remember when I said it was 'well rounded portrayal', well here is why?...

While work seems to be on the turn, Alex's marriage seems to be failing. With all the extra hours spent going around the country, spending extra time at the plant, Alex has neglected his marriage and his children - which causes his wife to leave him.

Not to worry, she returns at the end of the book, when everything is sorted.

Here are some of the lessons I learned from this book :

You're only as slow as your slowest component.

Alex was on a hiking trip with his son and his scout group. He was having a problem keeping the line of boys together.

There's no point speeding up a process, if the 'non-bottleneck' processes after the thing cannot cope. He found this out playing a stupid game with matches. (You have to read the book to find out about it).

Being at 100% doesn't mean being productive.

This one got me.

With the work that I do for a living, I've come to realise that time is precious. Also, that automation is a massive component in 'giving yourself more time'. The example I relate to, at home, is having a dishwasher. You can stand and wash the dishes, which may take you 20 minutes, or you can put the items in a dishwasher, turn it on, and go and do something else - which in essence is giving you 20 minutes back. (Perhaps a lame example, but it makes sense in my head! :P)

So this statement above doesn't make sense. Surely if something is 'in progress' or I'm 'waiting' for something on a project, I can do - or perhaps I should be doing something else?! Right?

Wrong. (in this context at least)

The example in the book was that a certain department, who were the bottleneck in the whole process, found themselves at a loose end - they'd done all the work they were scheduled to do. Because of this, they thought 'Great, we'll get ahead...!' - which was the problem.

They were making components for a business demand that wasn't there, thus increasing inventory - increasing the cost of another department elsewhere.

It makes me thing of quote Being busy is a choice - which I've found out, whilst working full time, is so true! Perhaps a piece of advice to anyone reading this, ask yourself "Is the world going to end if I do not do this one thing?" - if the answer is no, or you cannot answer the question straight away, then you can 'put it in the backlog'.

Good Measurements to predict things before they actually happen

By having good metrics, Ralph (one of Alex's managers), was able to predict when items would be at certain points in the manufacturing chain. He could also predict how long it would take to manufacture a batch of items. This leads well into the next point :

Out of Work JUST as important as In Work

This was portrayed in the book where Alex solves problems by spending time with his children and by talking with his wife.

Personally, I've noticed that my experiences that I have gained outside of work, have proved to be worth their weight in gold, at work. It gives you the chance to see things from another perspective. In addition, it gives your mind a rest - and who knows what goes on when our subconscious gets to work!

In conclusion, Incredible book.

Very much worth the read.

Thanks for reading. :) x