Alex and Julie celebrate the promotion over dinner, but Alex can tell that Julie is forcing her enthusiasm. He wonders aloud whether the promotion is just “winning a point in the rat race” and says that their family suffered too much for it. Julie reassures him that they would have had problems even without the crisis at the plant. Alex decides they should toast the promotion not as another step up the ladder, but as a “positive reassurance to our exciting, worthwhile journey.” He starts to wonder if he can celebrate it at all, since it was all Jonah’s doing, but Julie wisely cuts him off.
Alex’s admission that he’s won just one more “point in the rat race” suggests that part of him feels his corporate career is meaningless. This seems to be a rare moment of honesty about the fact that pursuing a corporate career can have a tremendously negative impact on one’s health and family. Moreover, even when Alex suddenly declares his career to be a “worthwhile journey,” he never answers what makes it worthwhile in the first place. This leaves open the question of whether such a career is worthwhile considering the costs.
Julie asks Alex why they didn’t come up with Jonah’s solutions on their own, since they all seem simple enough. Alex reflects that they are all common sense ideas, but they go against traditional business wisdom. He also reflects that Jonah used a “Socratic approach” by asking questions and forcing Alex and his staff to reach most of the conclusions themselves. To Alex, it seems more effective than simply telling someone the answers, since, like Hilton Smyth, that person might simply refuse to agree. Julie points out that only asking questions is irritating and off-putting as well. Alex decides that the technique he needs Jonah to teach him is how to persuade other people. He wonders how a physicist understands manufacturing systems so well, and Julie advises that he ask Jonah that, too.
Jonah shares Goldratt’s own belief—which he outlines in the novel’s introduction—that asking questions and pushing someone to reach conclusions on their own is a more effective method of teaching than relaying information through a lecture or manual. Alex’s conclusions about Jonah’s teaching methods also reveal why Goldratt chose to convey his Theory of Constraints through this story, rather than simply writing them out as a short technical book.