If we took a poll, I bet that more people would cite The Goal as the most influential book on quality of all time. Devotees might note the importance of Goldratt’s theory of constraints as the feature they liked best. But most would cite its readability. Over three million copies have been sold.
For The Goal is a novel, told in first person by Alex Rogo, a beleaguered plant manager, as he struggles to implement the lessons imparted his old teacher Jonah. Jonah steadfastly refuses to tell Alex anything, instead forcing Alex to work through the questions he poses by himself.
It is The Goal’s homespun examples that most impacted me. In one, Alex is taking his son’s scout troop on a hike. One of the boys is slower than the others and, as Alex works out how to maintain order, he reflects on a related problem at the plant. The powerful lesson is that quality management is not just for work. It provides powerful tools for everyday life, raising kids, managing one’s weight, and so forth. Sometime later I read Coveys’ The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, which further brought the lesson home.
But wait. There’s more. Too many of us have a tendency to think that what we do is inherently complex. But after The Goal I knew: If I couldn’t explain it (whatever it is) to a “regular person,” I don’t understand it well enough.
This is a really important lesson. Many of my clients complain that “their management doesn’t get the data quality joke.” My response is always the same, “Then you’re not telling it right.”
If you haven’t done so already, read The Goal. It is a fast read. And even better as a slow, careful, re-read.
Next week: Drucker
“Books That Influenced My Thinking.”