Goldratt has been an especially prolific author in recent years. This is the second of three books; the others are The Goal (1992) and Critical Chain (1997). In The Goal, Goldratt's primary focus is on the a-pplications of what he calls a Theory of Constraints (TOC) to the manufacturing process. In that book and in this one, he presents his ideas in the form of fiction (as a novel), complete with a cast of characters, a multi-dimensional narrative (or plot), a variety of settings, and perhaps most important of all, a series of conflicts. Few other authors with sufficient business acumen would attempt, much less succeed (as Goldratt does) in combining the two genres. Long ago, someone suggested that luck is the residue of preparation. Goldratt seems to agree. In this volume, he devotes much of his attention to demonstrating the relevance of TOC to marketing, sales, inventory control, distribution channels, strategic alliances, and conflict resolution. I believe it was Carl Rogers who suggested that one of the most effective strategies for conflict resolution is to set aside all points on which both parties agree, each party then makes whatever concessions are appropriate (i.e. terms and conditions of lesser importance); thereby, the parties involved can then concentrate on what are, for both sides, the most important differences. And do so with mutual respect and with goodwill. Goldratt applies the "Rogerian Model" to countless situations in this book, suggesting that conflict resolution is the result of sustained effort and patience, not luck.
It is occasionally said of an especially well-written business book that "it reads like a novel." What we have here IS a novel. Never before have executives had more to read and less time for reading. One of this book's most appealing qualities is that it is so easy to read. (The challenge is to make effective applications of TOC in an increasingly more competitive marketplace.) Goldratt is an authority on the business subjects he discusses as well as an excellent teller of tales. That's a rare combination.
For whom will this book have greatest value? Obviously, decision-makers who now have one or more of the following needs: to set or re-set the direction of their organization; to formulate appropriate marketing and sales strategies; to improve production, logistics, and distribution; to launch or improve project management initiatives; and/or to strengthen the skills of line managers.
Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to read Goldratt's other books, The Goal and Critical Chain; also, to check out David Maister's Practice What You Preach and David Whyte's The Heart Aroused. With all due respect to the core concepts Goldratt examines in this volume, they are worthless unless and until embraced by everyone involved. Master and Whyte can help managers to achieve that "buy in."