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Goldratt's Ideas Still Resonate

By APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE | 0 | 0 | June 15, 2012
Each week, the team that works on Operations Management Now pores over articles from publications such as the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, and Harvard Business Review looking for just the right story to inspire and enlighten readers. This week, the article doesn’t come from one of those titans of business news. Instead, it’s from Slate, a general-interest web publication. The article highlights The Goal, by Eliyahu Goldratt, and it proves that supply chain and operations management has gone mainstream.

Here is what Seth Stevenson has to say in his Slate article: “This may sound intuitive__a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. But Goldratt paints a dismayingly believable portrait of a company resisting common sense … Amazingly, for a book about operations management in a fake manufacturing plant, The Goal is a page turner.”

You know about the theory of constraints (TOC). What is notable here is that now the general public__from nurses to race car drivers__can read about it too, in a publication like Slate. For a factory to run well, the constraints must be identified and eliminated.

Stevenson reviews The Goal just as he might judge a New York Times best seller. For example, he writes “You feel smarter when you’ve finished the book. Which makes it worth wading through the middling (though unobtrusive) prose and dialogue …”

Revolutionizing business

Consider the TOC definition from the APICS Operations Management Body of Knowledge Framework: “TOC focuses on four key concepts: constraints, drum, buffer, and the rope. Managing constraints is critical to the process. In the process, the pace of the line operations is set by the speed of the constraint, an inventory buffer is placed before the constraint to protect the pace, and inventory is pulled through the line based on customer order input, which minimizes inventory and speeds the entire production process.”

Goldratt, a physicist, became an operations management and business hero with his ideas and innovation that made a lasting impact. Likewise, APICS aims to inspire you during the 2012 APICS International Conference & Expo by presenting on new and enduring themes. One speaker at APICS 2012 is Eric Berlow, TED senior fellow, complexity scientist, and founder of TRU NORTH Labs. Berlow will share how visualization and other techniques can help you understand and communicate complex supply chain issues to your team and across your organization.

During his general session, Berlow will describe research on natural ecosystems, which suggests that problems with many moving parts that seem highly resistant to change might, in fact, be the easiest to understand and solve. APICS 2012 is October 14–16, in Denver, Colorado. Don’t miss this opportunity to be inspired.

Idea exchange

Now, you can take the APICS Operations Management Now discussion to your social networks on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and the APICS Supply Chain Channel. Be sure to use the hashtag #OMNow and include @Tweet_APICS in any tweets to have your words featured on the APICS homepage.

  • Have you read The Goal? Did it change your perspective?
  • Would you recommend The Goal to others? Why? Do the ideas originally expressed in 1984 remain relevant today?
  • Do you use TOC? Why or why not?
In other news
Related APICS education
  • Spotlight on Your Processes 
    By John P. Collins, CFPIM, CSCP, and Eric P. Jack, PhD, CFPIM, CSCP 
    January/February 2012, APICS magazine

  • A Viable Vision 
    By James F. Cox III, PhD, CFPIM, CIRM 
    May/June 2011, APICS magazine

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