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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Ralph Nakamura Character Analysis

Ralph is Alex’s data coordinator at the plant, measuring statistics and operating the computers. Although Ralph is part of Alex’s senior staff and participates in implementing Jonah’s ideas, he plays a lesser role in the group. When they start looking for trends in operations data, Ralph quickly realizes that the plant’s data collection systems are years out of date, and he spends much of his time trying to set up better data collection measures. In the end of the story, when Alex and his staff are figuring out how to organize the new information Alex gathers as division manager, Ralph recounts the story of Dmitri Mendeleev, the chemist who established the periodic table of elements. Ralph posits that, just as Mendeleev discovered an “intrinsic order” to the elements, perhaps such an “intrinsic order” exists in any set of data.
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Ralph Nakamura Character Timeline in The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement

The timeline below shows where the character Ralph Nakamura appears in The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 17
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
Alex expects his staff—Bob, Lou, Stacey, and Ralph Nakamura, his data processor—to be as thrilled as he was about what he figured out... (full context)
Chapter 18
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
...is. On Tuesday morning, Alex arrives at his office to find Bob, Stacey, Lou, and Ralph there waiting for him. They discuss what happened the day before. Alex points out that... (full context)
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
Ineffective vs. Effective Business Metrics Theme Icon
...covered with charts, data sheets, printouts, and so on as Alex, Bob, Stacey, Lou, and Ralph search for their bottlenecks. Ralph is frustrated—much of their data is years behind, and sorting... (full context)
Chapter 19
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Working with Constraints Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
...explaining their new problems on the way. When Jonah arrives at the plant, Bob, Stacey, Ralph, and Lou meet him. Bob states that they still need a way to increase their... (full context)
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
...asks if there are other machines that perform the same function as the NCX-10, and Ralph tells him there used to be, but they were less efficient, so the plant sold... (full context)
Chapter 21
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
The Cost of Corporate Success Theme Icon
At the plant, Ralph gives Alex his compiled list of all 67 overdue orders they have outstanding. Eighty-five percent... (full context)
Chapter 23
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
Ineffective vs. Effective Business Metrics Theme Icon
...arrangement. At that moment, Ted Spencer, who supervises the heat-treating machine, angrily tells Alex that Ralph is causing him trouble and asking for all sorts of data and reports. When Alex... (full context)
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
Bob puts his new plan into practice. Over the next week, Ralph notes that one foreman, Mike Haley, consistently manages to process 10 percent more parts through... (full context)
Chapter 25
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
...the airport once again and brings him to the plant to meet with Stacey, Bob, Ralph, and Lou. Stacey explains that they have new bottlenecks, but Jonah suggests these new delays... (full context)
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
...is less counterproductive than forcing everyone to work, but creating inventory problems and wasting money. Ralph summarizes the point, saying, “making an employee work and profiting from that work are two... (full context)
Chapter 26
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
Ineffective vs. Effective Business Metrics Theme Icon
...to know when to allow more raw material into their system without it becoming clogged. Ralph states that with his new data from the bottlenecks, he can now predict how long... (full context)
Chapter 29
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
Alex meets with Bob, Ralph, and Stacey to discuss Burnside’s order. Alex wonders if they could cut their batch size... (full context)
Chapter 33
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Working with Constraints Theme Icon
They call Stacey and Ralph in. Stacey states that she wants to take over Bob’s role as production manager. She... (full context)
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
Ineffective vs. Effective Business Metrics Theme Icon
Ralph feels he’s contributed more in the past few months to solving real problems than ever... (full context)
Chapter 35
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
Ineffective vs. Effective Business Metrics Theme Icon
...asks his staff if anyone has come up with a better way to organize information. Ralph explains that when he formerly studied chemistry, he learned about Dmitri Mendeleev, who came up... (full context)
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
Ineffective vs. Effective Business Metrics Theme Icon
Although Bob is skeptical of Ralph’s story, everyone else thinks Ralph is on to something. Ralph states that Mendeleev’s organization system... (full context)
Chapter 37
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Working with Constraints Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
At the plant, Ralph raises the concern that something about their process still feels off. Even when the constraints... (full context)
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
...he can leverage that free capacity to “really take the market.” He wants Lou and Ralph to go to headquarters with him tomorrow morning to talk to Johnny Jons. (full context)
Chapter 38
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Working with Constraints Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
Alex picks Ralph and Lou up early in the morning and drives to headquarters, calculating in his head... (full context)
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 hidden connection between science and... (full context)
Chapter 39
The Importance of Goal-Setting Theme Icon
Working with Constraints Theme Icon
Efficiency vs. Optimization Theme Icon
...several deadlines. Alex and his staff brainstorm and argue about the causes until Alex and Ralph realize that the new flood of orders has changed the flow of the entire manufacturing... (full context)