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 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next day, Alex wonders how to get in touch with Jonah if he doesn’t even know where to find him. He goes to the plant and spends most of his day in a conference call discussing numbers and measurements with Peach (who is furious that Alex walked out on his meeting), Lou, and Ethan Frost. After dark, Alex is about to go home when he remembers his old address book at his mother’s house. He calls Julie to tell her he won’t be home until late, and Julie hangs up on him.
Once again, Alex spends more time away from his family for the sake of his work, indicating that he prioritizes his career over his wife and children. Julie hanging up on him suggests that her patience with him and his constant absence is wearing thin, foreshadowing a potential marital crisis.
Themes
Ineffective vs. Effective Business Metrics Theme Icon
The Cost of Corporate Success Theme Icon
Alex drives to his mother’s house, which is right in town. He used to visit her and his brother, Danny, more often, but Julie doesn’t like to, so they stopped. Alex’s mother is surprised to see him and insists that he stay and eat. After several hours of chatting, eating, and searching through the attic and the basement, Alex finds the address book in a drawer of his childhood bedroom, which has the number of an old university friend who lives in Israel. Although it’s one a.m., Alex knows it will be midday in Israel, so he uses his mother’s phone to call the number. After numerous phone calls and transfers, Alex learns that Jonah is now in London, and Alex leaves a message for him at his office.
Despite working a full day and being away from his family, Alex searches for a way to contact Jonah until the early hours of the morning, meaning that he is losing sleep. On top of the stress of his management role, Alex’s frequent travel and loss of sleep suggests that his corporate career takes a significant toll on his personal health and wellbeing. Rather than live a regular, sustainable lifestyle, he is constantly moving and acting, never resting.
Themes
The Cost of Corporate Success Theme Icon
Alex dozes by the phone for 45 minutes until Jonah calls back. Jonah immediately asks Alex if he’s figured out what the goal of his manufacturing plant should be. Alex answers that their goal must be to make money, but he tells Jonah that he needs better metrics to understand if his plant is meeting that goal.
Alex’s sense that he needs a better way to measure productivity implies that although a clear goal is important, it must be supported by strong metrics that can help measure progress toward that goal.
Themes
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
Ineffective vs. Effective Business Metrics Theme Icon
Jonah congratulates Alex for finding the answer. He offers three new measurements to operate by: throughput, inventory, and operational expense. “Throughput” describes the money generated explicitly through sales. “Inventory” describes the money used to purchase goods which a business might eventually sell. (Alex notes that this is a very different definition of “inventory” than he traditionally hears.) “Operational expense” describes the money a business uses to make inventory into throughput. Jonah cautions Alex that the metrics are very precisely defined, and Alex should not try to change his definitions. However, Alex will have to figure out how to implement these metrics himself, since Jonah must leave. He hangs up. Alex sleeps in his old bed for the remaining few hours of the night.
Since Jonah represents Goldratt himself, Jonah’s proposed metrics to Alex are also Goldratt’s proposed metrics for any businessperson. Notably, all three of Jonah’s metrics describe how money moves into or out of the manufacturing system and therefore directly relate to the overall goal of making money. By orienting guiding metrics around the primary goal, one can thus understand directly how each measurement taken directly affects one’s success or failure.
Themes
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
Ineffective vs. Effective Business Metrics Theme Icon
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