- Paperback: 262 pages
- Publisher: North River Pr (June 1 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0884271846
- ISBN-13: 978-0884271840
- Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 1.5 x 22 cm
- Shipping Weight: 340 g
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #448,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Haystack Syndrome: Sifting Information Out of the Data Ocean Paperback – Jun 1 2006
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
"Behold the Dreamers" is an unforgettable debut novel about a family's struggle to make a new life in America from author Imbolo Mbue. Learn more
About the Author
Eliyahu M. Goldratt (1947-2011) fue un consultor de negocios cuya teor a de las limitaciones ha servido como modelo para la administraci n de sistemas y negocios. Escribi muchos libros, incluyendo No es cuesti n de suerte (la continuaci n de La Meta), Cadena cr tica, y Necesario pero no suficiente.
Top Customer Reviews
The Haystack Syndrome is composed of three parts, each roughly equal in size. Part One "Formalizing the Decision Process" is the most interesting and has the widest appeal since it is an excellent discussion of how cost data can be used and misused, depending on one's perception of what type of business environment one is in. This is where the real meat of the book lies. Part Two "The Architecture of an Information System" I found less interesting, but it does contain some useful information. However, many find it too dry and technical. Part Three "Scheduling" can be skipped without fear of missing anything you did not get in the first two parts. It is a nuts and bolts description of how Goldratt's ideal scheduling system should work. Since at the time of its publication Goldratt's company sold scheduling software, I think it was a thinly disguised sales pitch. Throughout the book, Goldratt does an excellent job of defining his terms, which is good because he quite often uses familiar terms but defines them in different, but logical ways. Pay attention to his definitions!
The book begins with the recognition that most of us have lots of data but never enough information. Goldratt distinguishes information from data and says that different levels and requirements for information exist within any organization. He believes that too many of our information systems are nothing more than data systems since much of what they produce is not actionable.
Even more important than a new information system, though, is the understanding of how to use that system. This requires a new management philosophy. Part One is primarily a discussion and illustration of that new philosophy. Most companies and individuals, he says, operate in a world defined by the traditional "cost world" philosophy which has served industry well for decades. In the "cost world", decisions are usually made based primarily on how they will affect costs. However, Goldratt examines the assumptions underlying the cost world philosophy and demonstrates how these assumptions are largely invalid now. In fact, decisions based on the old philosophy may be counter-productive. The new philosophy Goldratt advocates is one which emphasizes the maximization of throughput which he defines as the "rate at which the company generates money through sales." Adding the two words "through sales" is important because in the traditional cost world, building inventory is often treated the same as sales. In fact, cost effects are delegated to third priority in the throughput world.
The biggest difference between the cost world and the throughput world is in their perceptions of the systems in which we operate. Underlying the cost world perception, for example, is the belief that most organizations operate in a system of many independent, variable functions - a change in any one of which influences the bottom line. Due to this perception, much effort is expended to identify what the influence of nearly every given change will be. The throughput world view, on the other hand, holds to the perception that we operate in a system where many functions have to carry out many tasks in a synchronized manner until the product is delivered. This implies, therefore, that only a small portion of the functions are truly independent and it is only these functions that determine the results of the entire system. Therefore, any effort expended to optimize the performance of the non-independent functions is futile. These few, truly independent functions are called "constraints" (hence the Theory of Constraints). Several problems are presented and it is highly recommended that you take the time to work them. Most people have no idea how immersed in the cost world they are until they see the solutions to the problems.
Goldratt relates in Chapter 5 the sad story of a $9 billion (sales) company, well-known but unnamed, who applied cost world view thinking to its operations in order to determine "how much each part costs us to make". They then proceeded to buy every part that, according to their cost data, could be bought cheaper. This process was repeated over a period of several quarters until, within a couple years, they went into Chapter 11. To the end, they really had no clue because their system was telling them they were doing the right thing. Unfortunately, they asked questions without examining the assumptions underlying their questions. They got exactly what they asked for, good and hard. (I met Dr. Goldratt in Washington, DC in 1997 and had the privilege to spend an hour with him discussing his ideas. I asked him who the unnamed company was. It was International Harvester).
I first read this book in 1991, but I still find myself referring to it now and then. The style of writing in Part One is very readable, but much like Goldratt's speaking style (without the accent): he's an expert practitioner of the Socratic method so he uses lots of questions and thought experiments, along with many capitalized words and exclamation marks for emphasis. If you have little or no previous exposure to the concepts in the book, you may find it helpful to take notes. Goldratt's ideas have made inroads in the last ten years, and he is continuously refining them, but this book is a good place to start if you want to try to understand his "new way of thinking."
OK, we expect you to publish on your theory frequently.
Um, but I have nothing new to say. The theory was only big enough for one book.
We won't consider you an expert if you have only one good book - the first one.
OK. I'll rehash everything about every two years.
On the other hand, if you have not yet read THE GOAL, you will probably not be able to finish this book because it is so technical and devoid of interesting detail. You will probably rate it a one or two star book.
I averaged these two ratings to arrive at a three star rating.
So my advice is: Read THE GOAL first, then read this book. You can read my review of THE GOAL to see if that book is for you. THE GOAL is one of the best business books of all time, and I do hope you will read it.
Five aspects of this book will be most helpful to you. First, there is an exercise to identify the constraints in a manufacturing process, and then decide what to produce. Mr. Goldratt says that only 1 person in 100 is able to do this assignment correctly in his workshops. This is a superb way to test if you understand the principles of the Theory of Constraints. If you don't correctly solve the problem, go back over the material until the exercise is crystal clear to you. The next section in the book reviews the exercise for you, so be sure to do the exercise on your own before you read the discussion.
Second, the book has an example in it of a large company that was misled by its cost accounting data to outsource much of its production and drop many of its products. The result was a disaster for the company, its executives, and shareholders. This example will emotionally stay with you, and remind you to use the Theory of Constraints the next time your cost accounting data are about to be applieed in this usually harmful way.
Third, the definitions of the Theory of Constraints are simply and beautifully spelled out here. You will see your operations as a system rather than as arbitrarily divided subsections. When you optimize the subsections, you destroy the effectiveness of the system. If you like systems thinking from this experience, I suggest that you also read THE FIFTH DISCIPLINE and THE FIFTH DISCIPLINE FIELD GUIDE.
Fourth, the book is superb in reminding you that what you measure and reward is what you get. So you will have to change these measurements and rewards in order to overcome organizational inertia to do the wrong things. Here is the often-repeated admonition from the book: "TELL ME HOW YOU MEASURE ME, AND I WILL TELL YOU HOW I WILL BEHAVE."
Five, this book clearly defines what you need to have in the way of data and how to use these data in order to practice system optimization according to the Theory of Constraints. Many people will need help with these topics after reading either THE GOAL or the first two parts of this book. Although dry, it is essential material. Be sure you stick with this section until you understand it. I suggest reading the third part out loud to another person, and discussing it with that person as you go. That approach will make this section of the book easier to use.
After you have finished reading this book, I suggest that you immediately take some process in your organization and analyze it from the prespective of the book. Where are your contraints? How can you optimize them to the profit benefit of the system? What measurements and processes do you need in place to continue to do the right thing? What measurements and rewards do you need to eliminate? Until you apply this perspective of the Theory of Constraints, it will not be very valuable to you. After you have applied it 30-40 times, it will become a habit that will drive you and your company's success to unbelievable heights!
Optimize the system . . . always!
Want to see more reviews on this item?
Most recent customer reviews
Look for similar items by category
- Books > Business & Investing > Industries & Professions > MIS
- Books > Business & Investing > Management & Leadership > Management
- Books > Professional & Technical > Business Management > Management & Leadership > Information Management
- Books > Professional & Technical > Business Management > Management & Leadership > Management