The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement

The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement

by

Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox

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The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement: Chapter 31 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Alex arrives at headquarters to find that only Hilton Smyth and Neil Cravitz will be conducting his performance review—Bill Peach and Ethan Frost are elsewhere. Smyth tells Alex that he’ll decide whether to close the plant and that Alex has a lot of explaining to do regarding his increased costs-of-products. Alex is angry that Peach and Frost aren’t there but begins his presentation.
Hilton Smyth’s obvious vendetta against Alex demonstrates the pettiness that can pervade corporate decisions. Additionally, his adherence to traditional metrics prevents Smyth from recognizing how successful Alex’s plant truly is, suggesting that faulty metrics can make honest evaluation impossible.
Themes
Ineffective vs. Effective Business Metrics Theme Icon
The Cost of Corporate Success Theme Icon
When Alex states that UniCo’s goal isn’t to keep costs down but to make money, Cravitz immediately agrees with him. Smyth looks skeptical, but Alex makes his case for the next hour and a half. Smyth thinks that Alex hasn’t done anything revolutionary, and when Alex outlines the new ideas he’s taken from Jonah, Smyth refuses to see their merit. At the end of the meeting, he shouts that Alex’s cost-of-products increased, which must mean that the plant is still losing money—that’s what he’ll base his recommendation to Peach on. Smyth ends the meeting.
Smyth wants to close Alex’s plant, even though it is the only plant making money in the whole division. Hilton Smyth’s refusal to listen to Alex’s logic—even though it clearly makes sense to Neil Cravitz, an accountant—indicates that he is motivated more by his personal hostility toward Alex, his rival, than he is by helping UniCo become a profitable company again. 
Themes
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
Ineffective vs. Effective Business Metrics Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
The Cost of Corporate Success Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Alex leaves the meeting but feels he must speak with Peach himself. He strides into Peach’s office, and the secretary tells Alex that Peach is already waiting for him. When Alex tells Peach that Smyth’s bad report on his plant is completely wrong, Peach calls Smyth, Ethan Frost, and Johnny Jons in to join them. Smyth states his opinion that Alex’s plant is wasteful and will lose money, but Frost and Jons defend Alex’s plant as being the most productive in the entire division. Peach announces that he, Frost, and Jons are all moving up the corporate ladder in two months. Peach declares that not only will they not close Alex’s plant, but Alex will advance into Peach’s current role of managing the entire division.
Alex’s sudden promotion again validates the efforts he’s made to reform his manufacturing plant and adopt Jonah’s new ideas. Peach’s decision to keep the plant open resolves the primary arc of the story and implies that not only does he see that Alex has managed to turn his plant around, but he believes Alex could reform the entire division of failing plants and make them profitable again. Alex’s victory over Smyth suggests that good performance will garner more praise and promotion than mere posturing.
Themes
Ineffective vs. Effective Business Metrics Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Peach recommends that Alex spend the next two months preparing for his new role. Alex returns to the plant to announce the great news. Before he does, however, he calls Jonah, who congratulates Alex on his success but refuses to provide any more help until Alex does some learning on his own. He asks Alex what he wants to learn the most, and Alex answers that he wants to learn to manage any organization of any size and perhaps learn to manage his personal life at the same time. Jonah tells Alex that his first assignment is to determine what techniques are critical to effective management.
Alex’s desire to learn how to manage any organization of any size suggests that the same general principles apply to any scale of organization. Furthermore, Alex’s prioritization of his personal life not only suggests that he recognizes his failures as a husband and father, but also that he recognizes the parallels between his struggle to manage the plant and his struggle manage his familial relationships.
Themes
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
The Cost of Corporate Success Theme Icon
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