On Friday, as most workers are going home, Alex’s management staff com into his office with an open bottle of champagne and Styrofoam cups. They celebrate their last month of progress, since their throughput has improved and their work-in-process inventory has decreased. Bill Peach calls Alex, and Alex braces himself for criticism. However, Peach congratulates him on their good month. Peach’s marketing man, Johnny Jons, told him that Alex’s plant has been resolving many late orders recently. Alex thanks Peach for calling.
Alex’s staff’s celebration and Peach’s affirmation prove that Jonah’s solutions are effective at increasing profit and eliminating wasted money in inventory. Additionally, Peach’s improved demeanor toward Alex suggests that the easier an employee makes life for his manager, the kinder that manager will treat that employee—their relationship is performance-based.
That evening, Alex and his staff get drunk in a bar, continuing their celebration. Alex is too inebriated to drive, so Stacey gives him a ride home. She tells him that he looks happier than he has in a long time. Alex can barely walk, so Stacey helps him to the front door. He trips over the doorstep and Stacey tries to catch him, but his weight pulls both of them sprawling into the house. Julie, who’s come home, flicks on the lights, sees them both, and assumes that Alex is having an affair. She screams at him, gets in her car, and drives away again. Alex calls Julie’s parents in the morning to explain, but Ada tells Alex that Julie won’t talk to him.
Just as Alex assumed that Julie was having an affair, now Julie assumes that Alex is having an affair, indicating that neither of them trust each other. This again demonstrates the cost of Alex’s commitment to corporate success: Alex and Julie have spent so little time together and become so alienated from each other that they’ve lost any mutual trust and automatically assume the worst of the other.
On Monday, Stacey tells Alex that she feels terrible about what happened and will call Julie to explain. She also tells Alex that it seems their bottlenecks are spreading: now that the plant’s throughput has increased, they are running into shortages of non-bottleneck parts. And since they’ve decreased their inventory of spare and unused parts, the new shortages are causing delays. Alex sighs and tells Stacey to figure out exactly which parts are coming up short, and then tells Fran to track down Jonah again. Alex looks over the plant and the declining piles of inventory, which seem like a good sign. When Jonah picks up the phone, Alex explains his problem. Jonah tells him he’ll visit the plant.
After Alex and his staff optimize their initial bottlenecks, new bottlenecks seem to emerge, suggesting that increasing the productive capacity of a system exposes its weaknesses at all points. As the bottlenecks are allowed to increase their capacity, any other resource that has a stunted capacity will start creating delays of its own that need to be dealt with. This ultimately suggests that managing such a system is an ongoing process that requires constant vigilance and improvement.
In the evening, Julie calls Alex to apologize for assuming the worst; she’d come home unannounced to surprise Alex. Alex tells her that if he’d known she was back, he would’ve come home straight after work to be with her. They both decide to keep seeing each other and continue working things out.
Although Alex and Julie have serious marital problems, Julie’s apology indicates that simple miscommunication accounts for much of their grief and anger toward each other.