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Critical Chain Paperback – December 10, 2002

4.2 out of 5 stars 160 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Anyone who doesn't snap up a copy is missing a wonderful opportunity for professional and personal development." -- Assembly

"Critical Chain will revolutionize project management." -- World Aero-Engine Review

"Critical Chain's powerful yet simple techniques...solve project management's toughest problems." -- James R. Holt, Professor of Engineering Management, Washington State University

"Eli Goldratt's first novel, The Goal, shook up the factory floor...Goldratt essentially adds a discipline for understanding what drives project performance and therefore what the focus of a project manager's attention should be." -- Harvard Business Review

"This book (Critical Chain) is valuable to two main audiences: project managers and senior managers... useful for dealing with one of the most difficult and pressing management challenges: developing highly innovative new products." -- Harvard Business Review

About the Author

One of the world's most sought after business leaders - author and educator, Dr. Eli Goldratt. Eli Goldratt has been described by Fortune Magazine as a "guru to industry" and by Business Week as a "genius". His charismatic, stimulating, yet sometimes unconventional style has captured the attention of audiences throughout the world. Eli is a true thinker who provokes others to think.

Eli Goldratt is the creator of the Theory of Constraints (TOC) and is the author of 8 books, including the business best sellers The Goal, It's Not Luck, and Critical Chain. Goldratt's Theory of Constraints is used by thousands of companies, and is taught in hundreds of colleges, universities, and business schools. His books have sold over 3 million copies and have been translated into 23 languages. Goldratt's fascinating work as an author, educator and business pioneer has resulted in the promulgation of TOC into many facets of society and has transformed management thinking throughout the world.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 246 pages
  • Publisher: The North River Press; 1st edition (December 10, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0884271536
  • ISBN-13: 978-0884271536
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.7 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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Eli Goldratt continues his application of Theory of Constraints (TOC) to various business processes by focusing on project management with this latest business novella. TOC is a method of creating ongoing improvement in operational processes, as well as a general management philosophy. Goldratt introduced this theory to world in his best-selling book THE GOAL, where he applied the principles to a manufacturing setting.
In CRITICAL CHAIN, Goldratt builds upon the teachings found in THE GOAL. He quickly describes of constructs of TOC, while spending more time addressing some specific phenomenon of project management versus process management. This is where the "Aha"s come into play.
Goldratt's characters debate and learn why projects often run overdue and over budget, or finish with less completed than originally specified. The characters debate critical path vs. non-critical path tasks, early vs. late start, resource conflicts, safety buffers in each task, negotiating with subcontractors and suppliers, as well as the erroneous progress accounting/measurement techniques that give everyone a false sense of progress toward completion.
Each of these topics were useful in challenging the conventional wisdom of project management. Each presented some new techniques for managing projects more aggressively. In my job, I indirectly manage a large number of construction project managers, and this was useful in understanding some of the reasons we struggle to deliver on time and on budget.
For those of you looking for the same enlightenment that you probably derived from THE GOAL, you will be mildly disappointed.
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Format: Paperback
I received The Goal as part of my MBA Operations Management course but held off reading until I graduated. I couldn't put The Goal down, nor could I put down Critical Chain. Critical Chain revisits the same ideas from The Goal and applies them to Project Management. I hoped for an aha... and got several minor ones. I do recommend this book. But don't let the book lull you into thinking everything is figured out. I haven't quite figured out where the precise misses are (relative to my world), but I know there are some gaps. Guess I'll have to think some... but don't we all!
Recommended reading approach: read once through and then revisit the chapters where our hero is in class and also the one where he is enjoying the TOC lecture (ie. on the second pass, ignore the fictional dialog regarding our hero's fight for tenure). Read SLOWLY at this point, and have a notepad handy to apply the ideas to your world. Think! I learned a heck of alot more the second time through.
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Format: Paperback
There is an old saying. To a carpenter, every problem looks like a nail.
Having now read two of Mr. Goldratt's books, it appears that to him every management issue is a scheduling and coordination problem. While that's true, product development management of difficult tasks is also sensitive to many other things like getting competent resources, having the right amount of input from each function early in the process, and developing the ability to produce the finished product efficiently and effectively. Those other issues are essentially untouched in this book.
Think of this book as applying the system coordination and optimization concepts of Mr. Goldratt's famous novel, The Goal, to project management.
If you have already read The Goal, this book will be much easier to understand than if you have not. Although many of the same concepts are explained here as in The Goal, the explanations in this book are not nearly as thorough and clear. Also, the plot and plot line in this book will probably not be as enjoyable to you as The Goal. I rated the book down two stars for these kinds of weaknesses.
If you have read The Goal, Mr. Goldratt basically substitutes scheduling safety margins for work-in-progress inventory, and then applies the same debottlenecking concepts as in The Goal.
If you have not read The Goal, Mr. Goldratt's argument is that schedules are put together with too much slack. Everyone wants to be almost sure they can meet a deadline. The deadkube date they pick usually relates to the most they can get away with. Usually, that much time is not needed and people start late. If they end early, they never tell anyone. So any delay puts the whole project back because there is no project scheduling slack.
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Format: Paperback
As he did in The Goal with production operations, Goldratt approaches project management in Critical Chain from a novel, even radical, perspective and makes some impressive insights. Through his main character, a business professor, Goldratt maintains that something is fundamentally wrong with current methodologies, and proposes a simpler, crisper alternative.
Typical of Goldratt's style, the essence of Critical Chain could be condensed into less than 20 pages. The remainder of the book consists of a superfluous, poorly developed novel, including details of the professor's troubled marriage and the attempts of a university president to turn around a faltering business school. Goldratt is harshly critial of current business school cirriculums and characterizes an MBA as essentially useless.
Goldratt's unconventional grammar, especially with regard to punctuation, and his insistence in switching between first and third person narration is distracting, but manageable.
Overall, however, Critical Chain is an achievement and should be mandatory reading for anyone involved in project management.
tpm May 28, 2001
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