Book Review: Critical Chain by Eliyahu Goldratt (3/5)

9 Jul

Y’all, I finished a book! I know, I’m shocked, too. I may have cooked some chicken a few minutes longer than needed to finish it up, but we don’t need to talk about that. I’m so glad to have something finished to share here and be able to move on to some other books.

Cover Image via Goodreads

Critical Chain by Eliyahu Goldratt

Summary from Goodreads:

“Critical Chain,” a gripping fast-paced business novel, does for Project Management what Eli Goldratt’s other novels have done for Production and Marketing. Dr. Goldratt’s books have transformed the thinking and actions of management throughout the world.

If you’re unfamiliar with Goldratt, you probably didn’t study business in higher education. His book, The Goal, is considered a must-read for anyone studying production or supply chain. I read it in my undergraduate and enjoyed it, despite it being for an operations course. I liked how Goldratt combined characters and a plot to tell his theory rather than writing a paper or textbook. I was glad to read another of his books, this time about project management.

Given that Goldratt’s characters are created to tell you about business theory, they’re fairly well developed. Rick Silver and his wife have a very believable marriage and the three employees at Genemodem each have their own personalities and strengths. I honestly didn’t expect much from the character development but was happily surprised.

Rick was a very likable character. I felt bad for him when it came to his relationship with his wife and I admired him for his teaching styles and abilities. I would have loved to take a class with him. I appreciated how he developed his theories and the work he put into his research. It was believable that he had to struggle to create the program he did. I liked that things weren’t just handed to him or easy for him.

I related to the three Genemodem characters. They saw a problem developing at work and they had no idea how to solve it. I think most employees feel that way pretty often! They were lucky enough to be given all the resources they needed and the means to solve their problem. No, it wasn’t easy, but they were able to do it. It helped that people were receptive to what they were saying because, you know, it’s a book about business.

Eliyahu Goldratt
Image via Historia y biografia

I liked the end when Rick was able to show his theories worked in practice and implemented them. I enjoy the way Goldratt introduced the theory and then had to fight through all the times that there are ‘exceptions’ and show how they’re not really exceptions at all. The one with the contracts was my favorite because there was no way being late could be a good thing for this theory. I thought the way it was explained was good.

There wasn’t a part of this book I particularly disliked. The pacing was good and I knew I was getting a lesson in project management and the theory of constraints even though it read like a novel. It was what I expected out of it and nothing more or less.

The audiobook was narrated by Alexander Cendese. I got some of the students mixed up from time to time because his voices for them were very similar but I think there were one too many students anyway. I also didn’t like his voice for the women, it seemed condescending which I was OK with for Janice but it bothered me for Ruth. Ruth was a smart and able woman and her voice made her seem like an oblivious airhead.

I think Goldratt got his theory across well. It would be good to have a more concise summary of the theory if one was trying to implement it so that you weren’t searching through this whole book for what to do when a shared resource is a bottleneck. The idea of the critical chain came up very late in the book. For it being the title, I was expecting it to be prevalent much earlier. It’s a really great idea and I hope it’s widely used now.

Writer’s Takeaway: I’m far from an academic but I can see how this is an odd format for someone writing about a theory they have. I think Goldratt has been so successful because it’s much more engaging. Jesus told stories in parables and Goldratt spews business theory hidden in novels. People learn and remember better when something is relatable and they can see the application. I think he’s onto something good with this style.

I enjoyed this book and learned a lot but I miss fiction a bit so my rating has been lowered. Three out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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