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The best business management book I’ve ever read

By Dennis Keay

There’s a book I read around 1990, early in my engineering and management career. It’s a business novel and it resonated with me immensely. It validated much of my thinking, and expanded it further. I’ve read it a number of times since.

What’s great about this book is that it takes you on a journey of discovery with the main character, a senior business manager, as he learns new ways to see his business (through a Yoda like mentor), and applies this to overcome various business challenges.

The book is “The Goal” by Eliyahu Goldratt, an Israeli physicist and business management guru.

What I like about The Goal is that it starts with the main character running a business the way I see most businesses being run these days, and softly shows the many flaws in that business management model, while introducing a simple alternative that is much more efficient and which delivers superior results. I also like that it doesn’t use technical jargon or catch-phrases.  You won’t hear anything about ‘Lean’ or ‘Six Sigma’…jargon’s just not needed.

The Goal isn’t just a business novel, it’s a novel in its own right that can be read by anyone, simply for the pleasure of reading a good story. It could be read as an adventure story by a 14 year old, and without knowing it, they’d be learning advanced business concepts at the same time. If you haven’t read it, and you’re in any form of leadership or management position within your business, then it’s a book I’d put as priority # 1 on your reading list.

Goldratt developed and popularised the ‘Theory of Constraints’, which is really about bottlenecks in businesses or processes of any kind, and how to deal with them. He weaves this concept through the many business novels he has written. If you’re in a project management role I’d strongly suggest reading ‘Critical Chain’. The engineer and project manager in me found this quite fascinating.

Grab a coffee, put your feet up, and have a good read. It’ll be a great investment of your time.

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