A Process of Ongoing Improvement is a business novel that is written in a narrative form telling the fictional story of UniCo Manufacturing’s plant manager, Alex Rogo, whose company’s performance is very poor, and he has only three months to make considerable improvement or shut down the whole plant (Goldratt and Cox 55-60). This innovative novel was first published in 1984 and was later revised and republished in 1992 and 2004. It gives important insights into the daily life of an operations manager, in addition to the challenges that businesses face. Via the colorful story, the authors manage to demonstrate the way though which processes and businesses practices have drifted from what they ought to be.
The Goal illustrates the fact that business thinking is dependent on numerous assumptions at face value. In essence, people do not question what they are told to do. For instance, in the book, it is assumed that the company is productive if it has high efficiency and low operating costs per unit (Goldratt and Cox 100). In my opinion, such measurements add less value/do not add to the company’s profitability and therefore, should be given less concern. The book stresses on the idea that managers should exercise common sense in decision making as opposed to just following tradition and assumptions.
Alex’s bosses are mainly concerned with the efficiency and productivity of the company, and that is why Bill Peach, Alex’s superior, constantly harasses him over the same. UniCo is very concerned with how to increase its productivity and believes that it should run its machines at capacity without any wasted labor time for it to attain maximum productivity (Goldratt and Cox 189). The company’s concern about lowering its cost per unit shows just how the management of a firm can lose touch with what is actually imperative. What should be considered in UniCo is the sustained profitability and competitiveness irrespective of the labor and machine efficiency.
The authors use twists and turns in the novel such as threats of downsizing, foreclosure, as well as Alex’s marriage crisis in order to engage the reader’s mind all the while offering simple and straightforward illustrations on the use of Theory of Constraints (Goldratt and Cox 215-220). TOC is a general management philosophy aimed at helping companies constantly achieve their goal. The TOC methods try to identify the constraint that a company faces and conducts a restructuring of the rest of the company around it. Indeed, The Goal provides an easy way for the reader to comprehend the Theory of Constraints. Reading this book enables the reader to view business as a system as well as to have a better point of view with regards to solving business problems. In addition, one gets to understand the value of teamwork from the book. Even though a single department is valuable in a company, it can only increase its value by working together with other business areas within the organization (Goldratt and Cox 317).
However, this book is not without its share of flaws. It lacks an appendix and has a very shallow introduction. I would recommend that the authors provide a glossary to enable readers to be knowledgeable with all the concepts and terms of operations management used in the book. In addition, the Socratic Method is not discussed in detail as I would expect. I suggest that they should have incorporated some examples of the writings of Plato as an illustration to the method in-depth, as opposed to assuming that the reader is conversant with the information.
The Goal is indeed very interesting, insightful, informative and easy to read; it brings to light numerous vague ideas concerning the production process and improves the reader’s critical thinking analysis. I highly recommend this book for managers in any field.