RIP Eliyahu M. Goldratt

Posted on June 12, 2011

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“I smile and start to count on my fingers: One, people are good. Two, every conflict can be removed. Three, every situation, no matter how complex it initially looks, is exceedingly simple. Four, every situation can be substantially improved; even the sky is not the limit. Five, every person can reach a full life. Six, there is always a win-win solution. Shall I continue to count?”

– Dr. Eliyahu M. Goldratt, 1947- 2011

Eli Goldratt wrote many books, and among them these four stand out as having changed my work (and life, I guess) for the better:

  • The Goal — a novel, about a chap who has three months to save a failing factory. This is where it all began, and the ideas apply to so many different situations in so many different fields. I’d include this in my top 5 books of all time.
  • It’s Not Luck — another novel, and the sequel to The Goal. Provides a basic introduction to the Thinking Tools by showing how to use them in analysing a variety of business problems.
  • The Choice — a manifesto, quoted above. In this book Goldratt takes to the soap-box and presents his manifesto for happiness through logic and clear thinking. I disagree with his logic at one major turning point, but overall the message is good, strong and empowering.
  • The Race — a workbook for learning about flow using the Theory of Constraints. This book is not for the faint-hearted, though thankfully it has no differential equations. Even though I had read and understood The Goal, and applied the ideas in many organisations, The Race taught me some deep new surprises.

I read each of those books again every couple of years, and each time my insights deepen. Goldratt was a true genius, and I’m surprised at how much his death has affected me this weekend.

Long live The Goal.

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