The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement Kindle Edition
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The real Goal here, I'm convinced, is this: to drive poor First year MBA students, tasked with getting something out of this colossal yawner, into jamming garden shears into their eyes.
What is "The Goal" like? Imagine Ayn Rand, with, say, 1/10th her intellect, deciding to put aside her pursuit of excellence and theories of individualism and liberty, and instead devote her life's work to---ummm---studying the best way of moving widgets around a factory in a dying industrial town.
Take the usual stock Rand characters, dumb them way down, render them featureless, whiney, unctuous little cog-toads without a scrap of verve or intelligence, and then barf them into a bunch of platitudes, taped together with a lot of whining, lip-biting worry and doubt, and packaged up with a whole Sunday serving of sixties pseudo-Zen crapola---all when a nugget of common sense and a halfway competent editor would have done the job.
It's like Deepak Chopra for the Rust Belt-set.
"The Goal": a soupy, syrupy little exegesis on throughput and Operations 101, amped up to sound like high-falutin' wisdom, crammed down the throats of MBAs throughout the country who are supposed to sit down at the gouty feet of Elihu M. Goldratt (hey, wasn't that the name of the Enemy of the State in 1984 on all the hate rallies?)and worship.
And why? Because this kind of New-Age hippy neo-business pap and babble is wound together with an uncritical worship of GE's goofy Six-Sigma scientology-lite culture, less a model of business success---the real success at GE has nothing to do with Six Sigma, and everything to do with GE's ruthless monopoly business model and sheer humongous size---than an outgrowth of former CEO "Neutron" Jack Welch's super-sized ego and relentless hunger for self-promotion.
The whole tedious setup revolves around Alex Rogaine, a middle-manager stuck in a dying manufacturing company, in a dying town, simultaneously struggling with his dying marriage. Rogaine has to get things under control and profitable muy pronto!, baby, or Corporate is gonna shutter the whole operation and next thing ya know, Michael Moore will be hitting the beaches with a new Business is Bad docu-drama.
So what does Rogaine do? He whines! He bites his lip! He wheedles to his harpy of a wife, who has contempt for this whiney creature with the spine of a jellyfish.
Worse still, he starts stalking his old college physics professor Jonah, who has given off teaching the Five Easy Pieces for 30 grand a year and started jet-setting around the world as a Management Consultant (warning bells going off yet? Getting that late-1990's feeling again?) offering up his Profound Wisdom to other Jet-Setters, Movers & Shakers, and Titans of Industry.
Jonah agrees to meet Rogaine in the Great Barrington airport, and tells him---mystically, with that sh*t-eating grin shared by fortune tellers and McKinsey consultants the world over, that his complex, baffling, soul-devouring problem is really simple: it's all about finding The Goal. And then he shuffles off into the Admiral's Club for a martini.
Rogaine spends the next 180 pages or so pushing his 45 points of IQ to the limit: what, in the name of God, is the Goal? What is it? Is it Love? Money? Freaky sex? Is that what makes this town the Best? What is it?
In between bouts of soul-searing self-doubt and high-octane lip-biting, he stalks Jonah for more answers, and it's always the same: Jonah materializes for a few minutes, serves up more of that same psycho-babble and sh*t-eating grin bullsh*t, drops a few names, and disappears for a martini, or maybe a vodka gimlet, in the Admiral's Lounge.
And Rogaine is left to wonder: what the Hell is the Goal?, while the Reader, for the 89th time wonders "when the Hell is this torment going to be over?"
Or not: see, friends, the heart of The Goal is really nothing more than a thinly-veiled blueprint for the whole Management Consulting industry: fly into Dallas or Topeka or Flint to some hopelessly befuddled old-line company with more staff than brains, bill them a gazillion dollars to do something that Marty the Shop Foreman had been telling them to do for decades, and then shuffle off to the Admiral's Club for a martini and a club sandwich.
When, in fact, the Real Goal should have been: find a corporate raider willing to buy up the dying Operation, sh*t-can the employees, offshore everything to Bangalore, sell the parts for a tidy profit, and retire to a tropical island.
Want a real business lesson? The Goal is to make money, by any means necessary. That means being smarter, more nimble, and more ruthless than the Other Guy. It means, in an operational setting, figuring out who's holding up the Widget Line and ruining his sh*t, with Extreme Prejudice, and then getting back to Making Money. Rinse, repeat.
View anyone who subscribes to The Goal with extreme suspicion: that person is either a tap-dancing bullsh*t artist or a simpleton.
One star given because the book burns well.
The Goal is pretty much exactly like Sophie's World. There's some proper content and the information is there, but it's wrapped in seriously cringeworthy writing and the content is really beginner level stuff. I'm a social scientist who just works as a project manager, but I feel like a goddamn management Wunderkind compared to the characters in this book.
If you want to read about business, read something about business. If you want to read a novel, read American Psycho or something.
The theory of constraints, is too grand a title for what can only be described as the business equivalent of the Snake under the Persian carpet story. A man finds a lump in his carpet, hits it hard and it disappears only to find it reappearing somewhere else a few days later. This continues for several weeks until someone lifts the carpet to find a very disgruntled snake. Identifying and removing single constraints in the production process and then waiting for the next to appear is just absurd. However the process is seductive because it gets results, the lump disappears after all and if it re-appears in another guise somewhere else, well that's perceived as a new problem, requiring a new solution, perhaps a heavier hammer to hit the snake with is in order?. I suggest Mr. Goldratt and Mr. Cox lift the carpet and take a look at what is really going on.
All that said, its well written and an excellent read, I could not put it down, perhaps one day someone will write the lean principles version.