The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement

The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement


Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox

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The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox's The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox

Eliyahu Goldratt was born into a Rabbinic Jewish family in 1947, the year before Israel achieved official statehood. His father was Israeli journalist and politician Avraham-Yehuda Goldratt. Eliyahu Goldratt obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Tel Aviv before moving to Ramat Gan, Israel, where he earned his Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degree. After spending years consulting for Israeli manufacturers, Goldratt joined a software company to help develop a new technology that could optimize production schedules for factories. Although many publications lauded the technology as a revolutionary tool, Goldratt realized that managers often held their same backwards assumptions that they had before using the tool, even after trying to implement it in their factories, which negated any positive effects. To try to explain why managers must change their basic assumptions, Goldratt spent 13 months writing his debut business novel, The Goal, which conveyed the basic principles that drove his company’s technology. Although the book eventually became successful, Goldratt and his shareholders noticed that managers were now using their principles but not buying their company’s technology, which eventually led to declining sales and Goldratt’s termination. Even so, Goldratt continued writing business books and building on his Theory of Constraints that he introduced in The Goal. He formed research and consulting groups, and he developed several more influential manufacturing management concepts such as Thinking Processes, the Drum-Buffer-Rope method, and Critical Chain Project Management. Through the course of his career, Goldratt continually pushed businesspeople to challenge their own assumptions and rethink traditional processes. He died of cancer in 2011 in Israel. Jeff Cox is the co-author of numerous business novels. He co-authored The Goal early in his writing career in 1984, and he’s since contributed to such best-selling business novels as Hanging Fire, Selling the Wheel, The Quadrant Solution, and Zapp.
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Historical Context of The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement

The Goal was published in 1984, a time when the post-World War II manufacturing boom began to slow and American businesses like Alex Rogo’s manufacturing plant subsequently faced new challenges. American corporations were up against rising competition from manufacturing corporations around the world, particularly in Asia, who could produce products for less money and offer them at a lower price. As American consumers leaned toward lower-priced goods, the role of manufacturing in America’s economy began to fall, initiating a postindustrial era. Consequently, the majority of the American economy shifted toward service industries such as food, healthcare, technology, engineering, and finance.

Other Books Related to The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement

Over the course of his career, Goldratt developed numerous management and manufacturing innovations which he disseminated by writing business novels and non-fiction manuals. In 1986, he followed The Goal up with The Race, in which he explains his Drum-Buffer-Rope concept, which elaborates on the Theory of Constraints and lays out its application more technically in a manufacturing environment. In 1994, Goldratt published his business novel, It’s Not Luck, which further demonstrates how to implement the Theory of Constraints in distribution and marketing, rather than just manufacturing systems. His follow-up novel, Critical Chain, in 1997 extends his Theory of Constraints into the world of project management and lays out his Critical Chain Project Management theory, which involves creating non-work activity buffers to help employees increase their focus. Other popular business self-help books include Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese?, which take a similar approach to The Goal in helping readers tackle issues in both their professional and personal lives.
Key Facts about The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement
  • Full Title: The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement
  • When Written: 1982
  • Where Written: Israel
  • When Published: 1984
  • Literary Period: Contemporary
  • Genre: Business Novel
  • Setting: The fictional, small American town of Bearington
  • Climax: Alex Rogo saves his manufacturing plant and is promoted to be the new division manager.
  • Antagonist: Hilton Smyth
  • Point of View: First Person

Extra Credit for The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement

Looking Ahead. In the final chapters of The Goal, Alex and his staff members each lay out their future goals—what systems they want to innovate and improve upon. Goldratt appears to have been listing his own goals through his characters, since he went on to write novels and nonfiction books on every one of the problems his characters list.