In memoriam Dr. Eliyahu M. Goldratt (1947-2011)
Every conflict can be solved
By Dr Jaap van Ede, editor-in-chief business-improvement.eu
"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?"
(quote from Goldratt’s book The Choice)
After an illness of several months, Eliyahu Goldratt, managementguru and founder of the Theory of Constraints (TOC) passed away. At the time he stayed in his house in Israel, surrounded by his family and friends. In the first place our thoughts are with them. Besides that, Goldratt’s death is a big loss to the process improvement community.
No name of any other managementguru, not even Taiichi Ohno, remained so strongly connected with his own process improvement theory. Repeatedly I experienced why: Goldratt could keep an audience captivated for hours, with his pioneering and thought-provoking ideas. Powerpoint sheets he hardly needed, a few challenging remarks or questions were enough to get undivided attention.
The best-known book of Goldratt, The Goal, was send to me more than 15 years ago by Martijn Lofvers, at the time editor-in-chief of “Logistiek”, a Dutch specialist journal from Reed-Elsevier. The Goal captivated my attention immediately, mainly because of the scientific way in which Goldratt approaches logistic problems.
Later, I discovered that this appeal to think logically and scientifically was his main mission. "All my work is based on the conviction that the underlying concepts and methods in the hard sciences can and should be applied in the social sciences", Goldratt wrote in the preface of the Japanese edition of The Choice.
When I e-mailed my review of that book to Goldratt’s management assistant Wendy Maxwell, she wrote me that ‘Goldratt would like to meet the person that had written the article’. That way I got the opportunity to speak with Goldratt for several hours in his house in the Netherlands. The result was a lively and inspiring conversation, ending in making sketches of space crafts, sending eachother messages while flying at light speed. This as a result of the doubts I had expressed concerning Goldratt’s proposition that ‘nature is exceedingly simple’.
Because of the best seller The Goal (1984) mentioned before, most people are familiar with the TOC as the bottleneck theory. The idea in brief: The throughput in a supply chain, thus also the profit of a business, is determined by the weakest link. Therefore one should try to find this link and then exploit it maximally, by subordinating the beginning and ending of all other tasks to the production rhythm of the bottleneck.
However, positioning the TOC only as a method to find and elevate bottlenecks is wrong. In his later books, Goldratt broadened his theory to a general management approach which is all about focus. To know what things to focus on, causes and effects are mapped, and in that way (hidden) business opportunities are found. The results of this way of thinking Goldratt presented in many new books, successively about marketing, project management and supply chain management. Finally Goldratt even addresses how we can elevate constraints in the way we think. In The Choice (2008) he explains how our own mind impedes us to see business-opportunities (see: are we ourselves the biggest constraint?)
During the latest years, the broadening of the TOC body of thought continued. Now Goldratt sought alliance with other process improvement methods, especially lean manufacturing.
Do you need help with the implementation of TOC?
In his last book, Isn’t it Obvious, he describes how a strategy developed in the TOC way, can be implemented on an operational level by applying lean tools and principles.
In addition, in his article Standing on the Shoulders of Giants Goldratt explains how he, in developing the TOC, built on the work of Giants like Henry Ford en Taiichi Ohno, the founder of Lean manufacturing.
Now, Goldratt himself will become one of those Giants in the area of operations management, of which the work will inspire others. That way, the TOC body of thought will live on and will continue to grow.
Referral to this article on internet?
Use this link: http://www.business-improvement.eu/toc/Eliyahu_Goldratt_in_memoriam.php