The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Dr. Eli Goldratt and Jeff Cox is a fictitious novel based on very real business practices. Goldratt and Cox’s writing focuses on a non-traditional approach to introducing Goldratt’s own Theory of Constraints. The plot centers around Alex Rogo and his journey to find solutions to save both his manufacturing plant and marriage.
The story begins when Alex’s boss, Bill Peach, pays him a visit. The reader is told that Alex currently works as the project manager of UniCo, located in his hometown of Barrington. Unico is a factory that produces machine assemblies. In the past six months, Alex has just been promoted to plant manager, and it is running at a loss. Peach’s visit is due to a complaint from Bucky Burnside, the President of one of UniCo’s most loyal customers. Burnside’s order was several weeks late, and Peach demanded the order be out within the next 24 hours. Even though Alex got the order out; it caused him to realize there were many fatal flaws within his plant. Later, Peach gives Alex an ultimatum, clear all the backlogs in the plants within three months, or face a shut down. Alex has the option to search for another job, but chooses to save his plant instead.
As the story progresses, the reader is allowed a glimpse into Alex’s home life. Alex and his family relocated to Barrington six months ago, Julie, his wife is still having a hard time adjusting. This is causing great tension in their marriage. In addition, Alex’s long hours at the plant are causing Julie to resent him.
Soon after, Mr. Peach calls all the plant managers under him to a meeting at headquarters. Alex, along with the others, learns just how bad the situation is for the whole Division. During the meeting, Alex recalls a chance encounter with a former professor. This flash back plants seeds of knowledge in Alex’s mind that will ultimately save his company.
Two weeks prior, Alex ran into Dr. Jonah. They casually chat and catch up. Alex tells Dr. Jonah he is now the plant manager of UniCo. Dr. Jonah seems very intrigued by Alex’s job and presses him for more information. They begin to talk about the recent installation of robots that, in Alex’s mind, have greatly increased productivity. But after a short interrogation, Jonah disagrees. Jonah tells Alex that all firms have one single goal that they must achieve in order to survive. Alex realizes he does not understand the goal but Jonah leaves him to figure it out for himself.
While eating dinner Alex has an epiphany about the goal. He realizes the first lesson, “The Goal of any organization is to make money.” All activities that lead to the accomplishment of The Goal are valuable, and all others are non-essential. Armed with this new information, Alex sets out to develop a plan. He returns to the plant and discusses the goal with Lou, the plant financial controller. Lou agrees with Alex’s theory on what the goal is. Together they try to figure out measurements to mark...