Log in Follow us
May 14th, 2013
The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Continuous Improvement, 3rd ed. by Eliyahu Goldratt and Jeff Cox, North River Press: Great Barrington, MA (2004). 384 pages, $24.95. Process engineers should be familiar with Eli Goldratt’s seminal work The Goal for a number of reasons. First, chemical engineers are often tasked with finding improvements in continuous processes to reduce the manufacturing costs at a plant or facility. Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints provides a systematic framework to search for bottlenecks in a manufacturing process and to find ways to improve throughput once the constraint is identified. Next, many chemical engineers are unfamiliar with business terms and financial calculations. Most managers and decision-makers, on the other hand, are greatly concerned about financial metrics. The Goal offers step-by-step insights of the most important business measurements for a manufacturing plant. (You might also want to reference the series “Talking to Your Bo$$” here on ChEnected.) After all, the purpose of business is to make a profit! Further, by addressing continuous improvement from the standpoint of fictional characters in a novel, Goldratt also conveys themes of leadership and teamwork. In The Goal, team members clearly join together to troubleshoot a crisis problem. Yet, they also attain skills and passion to further their individual careers. Reading about their approaches to problem-solving can help professionals hone teamwork capabilities, too. Lastly, most chemical engineers work in environments that stress TQM (total quality management) and/or lean manufacturing. The Goal helps to pull together these sometimes abstract concepts into a simple story about keeping a failing division afloat. Engineers that are familiar with TQM and lean principles will be able to readily adapt Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints introduced in The Goal.