The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement

The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement

by

Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Goal can help.
Jonah is a scientist who becomes a business theorist and helps Alex save his plant. Alex, Jonah’s former student, reconnects with Jonah randomly in an airport. When Alex talks about his plant, Jonah intuits all the problems that the plant has, even without Alex mentioning them. Throughout the story, Jonah uses the Socratic method—asking questions and pushing someone to reach a conclusion on their own—to lead Alex to see his business differently, maintain clear goals, and work within the manufacturing system’s natural constraints. Jonah constantly travels, so he only appears in the story occasionally through brief meetings or phone conversations. Jonah represents author Eliyahu Goldratt in the story—significantly, both Jonah and Goldratt are Israeli business theorists who take a scientific approach to manufacturing problems—and Jonah voices Goldratt’s ideas, concepts, and definitions. Because of this, Jonah functions more as a sage or guru than a fully-developed character. Beyond the fact that he smokes cigars frequently, Jonah has no background, no characterization, and no personal story arc beyond disseminating Goldratt’s theories and advice. When Alex’s plant becomes profitable again and Alex advances to become the division manager, Jonah disappears from the story.

Jonah Quotes in The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement

The The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement quotes below are all either spoken by Jonah or refer to Jonah. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the The North River Press edition of The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement published in 1984.
Chapter 5 Quotes

“…consistent parameters…essential to gain…matrix of advantage…extensive pre-profit recovery…operational indices…provide tangential proof…”

I have no idea what’s going on. Their words sound like a different language to me—not a foreign language, exactly, but a language I once knew and only vaguely now recall. The terms seem familiar to me, but now I’m not sure what they really mean. They’re just words.

You’re just playing a lot of games with numbers and words.

Related Characters: Alex Rogo (speaker), Bill Peach, Ethan Frost, Jonah, Eliyahu Goldratt
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

“Everything is for your job,” she says. “It’s all you think about. I can’t even count on you for dinner. And the kids are asking me why you’re like this—”

There is a tear forming in the corner of her eye. I reach to wipe it away, but she brushes my hand aside.

“No!” she says. Just go catch your plane to wherever it is you’re going.”

“Julie—”

She walks past me.

“Julie, this is not fair!” I yell at her.

She turns to me.

“That’s right. You are not being fair. To me or to your children.”

Related Characters: Julie Rogo (speaker), Alex Rogo (speaker), Jonah
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:

“A plant in which everyone is working all the time is very inefficient.”

Related Characters: Jonah (speaker), Alex Rogo
Page Number: 84
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

Our hike is a set of dependent events…in combination with statistical fluctuations. Each of us is fluctuating in speed, faster and slower. But the ability to go faster than average is restricted. It depends upon all the others ahead of me in line. So even if I could walk five miles per hour, I couldn’t do it if the boy in front of me could only walk two miles per hour. And even if the kid directly in front of me could walk that fast, neither of us could do it unless all the boys in the line were moving at five miles per hour at the same time.

Related Characters: Alex Rogo (speaker), Dave Rogo , Jonah
Related Symbols: The Hikers
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 18 Quotes

“This much is clear to me. We have to change the way we think about production capacity. We cannot measure the capacity of a resource in isolation. Its true productive capacity depends upon where it is in the plant. And trying to level capacity with demand to minimize expenses has really screwed us up. We shouldn’t be trying to do that at all.”

Related Characters: Alex Rogo (speaker), Jonah
Page Number: 138
Explanation and Analysis:

“A bottleneck […] is any resource whose capacity is qual to or less than the demand placed upon it. And a non-bottleneck is any resource whose capacity is greater than the demand placed upon it.”

Related Characters: Jonah (speaker), Alex Rogo , Eliyahu Goldratt
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 21 Quotes

“Look, I’m convinced you did the right thing back there. Aren’t you?”

“Maybe I did the right thing,” [Bob] says, “but I had to break all the rules to do it.”

Related Characters: Alex Rogo (speaker), Bob Donovan (speaker), Jonah
Page Number: 176
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 25 Quotes

“But what are we supposed to do?” asks Bob. “If we don’t keep our people working, we’ll have idle time, and idle time will lower our efficiencies.”

So what?” asks Jonah. […] “Take a look at the monster you’ve made. It did not create itself. You have created this mountain of inventory with your own decisions. And why? Because of the wrong assumption that you must make the workers produce 100 percent of the time, or else get rid of them to ‘save’ money.”

Related Characters: Bob Donovan (speaker), Jonah (speaker)
Page Number: 210
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 28 Quotes

“It’s perfectly okay to have more setups on non-bottlenecks, because all we’re doing is cutting into time the machines would spend being idle. Saving setups at a non-bottleneck doesn’t make the system one bit more productive.”

Related Characters: Alex Rogo (speaker), Jonah, Bob Donovan
Page Number: 233
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 32 Quotes

A chill goes down my back as I remember it. I was in deep trouble. My plant was under a real threat of being closed down; over 600 people were about to join the already long unemployment lines; my career was one inch from being kissed by limbo; and on top of all that, the unbelievable hours I was putting in at work had pushed our marriage to the brink of going down the tube. In short, I was about to change from a bright, rising star to an ordinary bum.

Related Characters: Alex Rogo (speaker), Julie Rogo, Jonah, Eliyahu Goldratt
Page Number: 265
Explanation and Analysis:

“[Jonah’s] solutions look trivial, but the fact is that for years we’ve done the exact opposite. Moreover, the other plants insist on sticking to the old, devastating ways. Probably Mark Twain was right saying that ‘common sense is not common at all’ or something similar.”

Related Characters: Alex Rogo (speaker), Jonah, Julie Rogo, Eliyahu Goldratt
Page Number: 267
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 38 Quotes

“Things start to be connected to each other. Things that we never thought were related start to be strongly connected to each other. One single common cause is the reason for a very large spectrum of different effects. You know Julie, it’s like order is built out of chaos. What can be more beautiful than that?”

Related Characters: Alex Rogo (speaker), Julie Rogo, Jonah, Hilton Smyth, Eliyahu Goldratt
Page Number: 318
Explanation and Analysis:
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Jonah Character Timeline in The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement

The timeline below shows where the character Jonah appears in The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
Ineffective vs. Effective Business Metrics Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
Two weeks earlier, when Alex felt like things were still operating smoothly, he ran into Jonah, an old Israeli physics teacher of his, in an airport. Alex fills Jonah in on... (full context)
Ineffective vs. Effective Business Metrics Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
...a more efficient plant costs less money and thus makes a greater net profit. However, Jonah asks if his number of employees or amount of excess inventory has decreased, and Alex... (full context)
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
Ineffective vs. Effective Business Metrics Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
Jonah explains that he studies manufacturing organizations now, and that many plants have the exact same... (full context)
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
As they reach the gate, Jonah hands Alex a cigar and challenges him to question whether his plant is productive and... (full context)
Chapter 7
The Cost of Corporate Success Theme Icon
...the plant in business. However, he has very little time. He decides he’ll track down Jonah and ask him for help. (full context)
Chapter 8
Ineffective vs. Effective Business Metrics Theme Icon
The Cost of Corporate Success Theme Icon
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... (full context)
The Cost of Corporate Success Theme Icon
...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. (full context)
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
Ineffective vs. Effective Business Metrics 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... (full context)
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,... (full context)
Chapter 9
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
Ineffective vs. Effective Business Metrics Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
As Alex drives to the plant, he thinks about Jonah’s new metrics—which aren’t so different from what he brainstormed with Lou—and how to apply them... (full context)
Chapter 10
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
Ineffective vs. Effective Business Metrics Theme Icon
After an hour and a half, Alex has explained Jonah’s concepts and new metrics to his staff. Lou observes that all of Jonah’s metrics directly... (full context)
Ineffective vs. Effective Business Metrics Theme Icon
The Cost of Corporate Success Theme Icon
From their meeting, Alex calls Jonah’s number in London, but his office tells Alex that Jonah is currently in New York.... (full context)
Chapter 11
The Cost of Corporate Success Theme Icon
The next morning, Alex meets Jonah for breakfast in his New York hotel. He already tried calling Julie and the kids,... (full context)
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
Jonah smokes a cigar and asks Alex what he thinks when he sees one of his... (full context)
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
Jonah explains that while a balanced plant might be appealing in theory, since expenses are kept... (full context)
Chapter 13
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
As they walk, Alex thinks about Julie and his conversation with Jonah about statistical fluctuations and dependent events. In Alex’s mind, such fluctuations should average themselves out.... (full context)
Chapter 18
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
Stacey suggests they call Jonah again, so Fran spends the next hour trying to get him on the phone. When... (full context)
Chapter 19
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
The Cost of Corporate Success Theme Icon
...didn’t easily apply to the plant. Alex’s mother tells him that he should talk to Jonah again, and Alex says that he is about to go pick up Jonah from the... (full context)
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
After Alex told Jonah of his new confusion about the bottlenecks over the phone, Jonah offered to come see... (full context)
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
Jonah advises that the workers should take their lunch break while the NCX-10 is in the... (full context)
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
Jonah asks if they could outsource some of the heat-treating work to vendors in town, and... (full context)
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
Ineffective vs. Effective Business Metrics Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
Jonah explains that although Alex and his staff would normally calculate the operating expense of each... (full context)
Chapter 20
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
The Cost of Corporate Success Theme Icon
...on him. Afterward, Alex holds a meeting with his staff to decide how to implement Jonah’s advice. Lou determines that at least 80 percent of everything they work on must pass... (full context)
Chapter 24
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
The Cost of Corporate Success Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 25
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
Alex picks Jonah up from the airport once again and brings him to the plant to meet with... (full context)
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
Jonah realizes that he needs to explain more about the nature of bottleneck and non-bottleneck parts.... (full context)
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
...for keeping their efficiencies high, Alex thinks about their warehouses of excess inventory and realizes Jonah is right. Letting some non-bottleneck machines or workers stand idle is less counterproductive than forcing... (full context)
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
Ineffective vs. Effective Business Metrics Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
Jonah states that by creating more parts than the system can turn into products, they are... (full context)
Chapter 26
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
The Cost of Corporate Success Theme Icon
...and drums. Alex thinks back to their conversation in the conference room that afternoon with Jonah. (full context)
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
Ineffective vs. Effective Business Metrics Theme Icon
...to go from the beginning of its process to emerging from the bottleneck machines—two weeks. Jonah adds that with this, they can let the bottleneck machines regulate the pace of the... (full context)
Chapter 28
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
Alex gets home in the evening, just as Jonah calls from Singapore to check on their progress. Alex tells Jonah that everything is going... (full context)
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
While meeting at a restaurant, Alex relays Jonah’s new advice to his staff. Jonah claims that any part’s time in the system involves... (full context)
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
Ineffective vs. Effective Business Metrics Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
Although the plant uses a traditional economical batch quantity (EQB) formula to determine batch size, Jonah advises that by cutting the batch size in half, the plant can reduce each part’s... (full context)
Chapter 31
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
The Cost of Corporate Success Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 32
The Cost of Corporate Success Theme Icon
...He starts to wonder if he can celebrate it at all, since it was all Jonah’s doing, but Julie wisely cuts him off. (full context)
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Chapter 38
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
The Cost of Corporate Success Theme Icon
Alex remembers Julie’s point that Jonah is a scientist and Ralph’s mention of Mendeleev. He wonders again if there isn’t some... (full context)
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
...this is like how Socrates studies human behavior. Alex guesses that this is also how Jonah develops his ideas—by using this “thinking process” to find unusual relationships between things and people.... (full context)
Chapter 40
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
Ineffective vs. Effective Business Metrics Theme Icon
...to change to,” and “how to change.” He realizes that these are the same questions Jonah uses, but now they will have to learn to be “[their] own Jonahs” and figure... (full context)