Goldratt’s Rules of Flow: FIN, Chapter 27 – “The Contingency Plan”

[If you haven’t read the original version of The Goal – it’s the original, the classic. Here’s a chapter-by-chapter video summary, and a <60 second summary too.][Click here for a video summary of Rules of Flow.]

In the final chapter, we resolve the open issues – and the dreadful waiting game unleashed at the close of Chapter 25 by Isaac on Marc, his son and most valued employee, is brought to a close. Isaac discloses the terminal disease, shared first in Chapter 18, to Marc, and his sister, Sam, who has flown in for the dinner. Marc will be given the company to run, Sam will get a share of ownership – but had conveniently signed away interest in running the business already. Isaac has admired the ‘new ways’ that Marc has brought to the business and been giving him space to run – although to the reader it looked like abandonment.

Marc is so fired up to take the reins that he is now interested in talking with the private group not as a buyer of Wilson Advanced Solutions, but as a potential investor. We don’t get an easy resolution on his future with Abbie, but let’s just imagine that everything works out well. In the short, three page chapter, we don’t get much exposure to Marc’s reaction to his father’s pending death. The only real emotion is the outrage from Sam that her brother may have known before her. As a reader, I feel we’re provided a not-so-cryptic look into some historic events in the Goldratt family.

As an author, Dr. Efrat Goldratt-Ashlag has resolved one of the toughest parts of The Goal; that book really ends at Chapter 31, but then continues on for nine more chapters – nearly 80 more pages! By resolving the education message of the book coincident with the plot resolution – the passing of the business to Marc from Isaac, things are more neatly wrapped up.

Best Writing, Quotes (Pages 169 – 171)

“Did you know that Dad is sick?” Sam to Marc at their parent’s house, Page 169.

“And as you wished, you will receive your share, but will not be involved in any management decisions.” Marc to his daughter, Sam, Page 170.

“I wanted to give you space to try this new of running things.” Isaac says to Marc, Page 170

“It’s still early, but it is clear that you are on to a much better way of managing our projects.” Isaac to Marc, Page 170

“The company is yours now.” Isaac, Page 171

“I’m not looking for a buyer, I’m looking for an investor.” Page 171

Posted in Goldratt's Rules of Flow | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Goldratt’s Rules of Flow: Chapter 26 – “How to Get Started”

Marc attends his final executive MBA course on “Rules of Flow” taught by Rick Silver. They discuss four common scenarios on how to deal with project constraints. Lastly, Silver identifies that the ultimate constraint in an organization is leadership time and their ability to focus attention on the highest value opportunities.

Best Quotes, Writing (Pages 161 – 168)

To help calm things down Rick says, “We all want the same thing. We want to go from a reality where we have frequent delays, things take forever and we are constantly multitasking to a reality where the lead times are much shorter and the chaos goes away. Let’s discuss how to facilitate this transformation.” The professor opens the final chapter in his classroom, Page 161.

“Remember, we don’t care about the productivity of a single worker, we ask what are the units that need to move faster in order to improve the flow of the whole system.” Rick speaks to student Ted, Page 162.

Strategy 1: “Freeze a large percent of the projects and keep the ones that are close to completion, or the ones with the highest priority, in the WIP.” Marc thinks of his flow strategy, Page 162.

“If they cannot assist in other projects, assign them to help with full-kitting.” Page 163

Strategy 2: Kill bad projects.

“We found that triage is not only about cancelling work packages with low value. We also came up with new high-value ideas that should have top priority.” Page 163

Strategy 3:

“In project environments where there is a massive amount of integration and people are constantly stuck because things are missing, it makes sense to start with full-kit.” Professor Silver highlights an aspect of construction projects, page 164

Strategy 4: “The fourth strategy that I’d like to mention is relevant to project environments that suffer from bad outcomes where people have to fix the same problems again and again. In these cases, dosage is likely the preferred strategy to control WIP.” Page 164

“The managers and experts are usually the most precious resource in the operation and are also the most scarce. Which means that they are the ones who are in most demand. They are the constraints, the resources with the least capacity in the system.” Rick to the class, Page 165.

“That may indicate there are too many projects in WIP.” Page 165 – what happens if leadership is overwhelmed?

“First, identify these few people are in fact your system’s constraint. Then figure how to exploit the constraint – how to make the best use of the time.” Rick shows how theory of constraints makes strategy a core answer to project management, Page 166.

“Your experts will be devoting a large percentage of their time to analyzing upcoming projects and full-kitting them. Get good people to help them. That will not only make your experts’ work more efficient, it’s the best way to grow your next experts from within.” Page 167

“For companies who are serious about it, who have the discipline to follow through and the confidence to endure this amazing cultural change, even the sky is not the limit.” Marc reflects, Page 167.

“Rick knows it is a lot of work.” Page 168

Posted in Goldratt's Rules of Flow | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Goldratt’s Rules of Flow: Chapter 25 – “Lead Time is Getting Shorter”

Snap back to reality
Oh, there goes gravity

– Eminem “Lose Yourself”

Big moves in the plot! Marc gets a call for “Mr. Wilson” and accepts it, but it was really a call to his father and now Marc knows that the business sale is about to close. What an accident? Or was it? Marc shares this message with Abbie in a distraught state, she consoles him and they kiss. It is sad how focused they are on their careers and how it prevents the development of their relationship.

Best Writing, Quotes (Pages 155 – 159)

“He has been avoiding his father since their argument about gate zero. He didn’t want his father to stop any more of his initiatives, and to his relief, his father didn’t make much effort to talk with him, either.” Marc hasn’t spoken to his father about the changes he’s made, Page 155

  • Isaac is also Marc’s manager.
  • We’d previously shown that hand-offs between managers and team members is essential to good flow; these two have not spoken in months.

“He can’t believe that he’s hearing about it by chance just because the buyer’s assistant, or whoever he was, called the wrong Wilson.” Marc learns of the potential private equity buyer through a mistake phone call, Page 156.

“It can’t wait.”

“Saturday, Marc,” says his father and the line goes dead. Page 157.

  • Marc’s father has a terminal disease and does not tell him.
  • Marc calls his boss because he has important business questions and is put off.
  • Isaac is not an impressive leader or father.

“She puts her hand on his shoulder to console him.” Abbie consoles Marc when he tells her what’s going on, Page 158.

“The kiss is exactly as he had imagined.” Marc and Abbie, Page 159.

Posted in Goldratt's Rules of Flow | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Goldratt’s Rules of Flow: Chapter 24 – “Buffer Management”

[If you haven’t read the original version of The Goal – it’s the original, the classic. Here’s a chapter-by-chapter video summary, and a <60 second summary too.][Click here for a video summary of Rules of Flow.]

Marc attends Professor Rick Silver’s Executive MBA course on Rules of Flow. The class discusses how to allocate times to buffers – usually 1/3 is a good rule of thumb. They discuss the ‘fever’ chart to track project timeliness. Marc realizes that a lot of the minutiae he tracks from his team has now become busywork as he has cut the number of projects and increased the flow of WIP.

Best Quotes, Writing (Pages 143 – 153)

“If your due dates are not set in stone, then most likely removing the obstacles to your projects’ flow is all you need to focus on. But,” Rick raises his index finger to emphasize what he is about to say next, “if meeting the due dates is key in your line of work, then in addition to managing the flow you also need to take precautions to ensure you meet your deadlines.” – Page 143

“A good rule of thumb is to take a third of your estimated time for the project and use it as your buffer.” Rick to the class, Page 144.

“You may need to ask a few questions but sooner or later they’ll tell you that their estimates consist of the actual time they think it will take them to perform their task, plus safety they believe they need to guard against issues that may come up.” Rick to the class on creating psychological safety for teams to properly estimate due dates, Page 145.

“When people approach their manager asking for more time, the first thing the manager should do is grant them the time they asked for.” Professor Rick Silver to the class, Page 146.

Kiara says, “So, after we grant the time people asked for, we need to look into what caused the delay, and if we find out that people did not adhere to the expected behaviors they should beheld accountable for it.” Page 147

“Another thing that managers sometimes find,” Rick continues, “is a person or other resource that is busy to the extent that queues of work start to pile up in front of them.” Page 148

  • This is similar to how Alex Rogo finds that heat treatment is a constraint in the original Goldratt text for The Goal in Chapter 18.
  • In that book, product inventory accumulates in front of an oven, which the team had been ignoring. They had falsely assumed that the NCX-10, a robot, was the constraint.

“This is a project status chart, or a ‘fever chart’ as we sometimes call it. As you can see, as long as you complete a larger percent of the project relative to the percentage of buffer you consume, you’re in the green and everything is fine.” Rick Silver to the class, Page 149

“Whenever someone approaches us asking for additional time, we grant it to them but we look into what caused the delay and respond in accordance to what we find out.” Rick to the class, Page 150.

“A word of caution. If you don’t properly control your WIP, don’t bother with monitoring the buffers – you will consume them for sure.” Rick to the class, Page 151.

“When someone messes up in a way that causes a considerable delay, we dig deeper and look into what caused the delay in the project. We ended up adding more and more details to our status reports to make sure we don’t overlook them again. Over time we went into finer and finer detail and by now the lists we cover in our status reports are rather long.” Marc shares the status of the elaborate paperwork required of his teams to the class, Page 151 – 152.

“Letting to of checking the status of these many details shouldn’t be taken lightly. He has been relying on these status reports to hold his people accountable for as long as he can remember. But does he really need them anymore? Most of the screwups were a result of the chaos they operated in, but now that they are avoiding a lot of the bad multitasking and having full-kits, people can concentrate and they make fewer mistakes.” Marc reflects on changes he can make, Page 152.

“After the past few months they were used to his unorthodox ideas. It’ll be fine.” Marc closes his thoughts and the chapter, Page 153.

Posted in Books, Goldratt's Rules of Flow | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Goldratt’s Rules of Flow: Chapter 23 – “Taking Precautions” aka Marc Goes Cycling

If there was an extended Goldratt universe, along the lines of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (“MCU“) then Rules of Flow has now added two new athletic activities – weight training in RoF 15 “Enough Weight, Enough Repetitions” and now a long day out cycling with Marc and his nephew Jack. Marc focuses on time as the constraint to their capacity to go riding, while his nephew gently reminds him that their power – a function of their training, nourishment, and energy – is also a constraint. They must meter their food and water, otherwise they won’t be able to complete the circuit they’ve chosen.

Best Writing, Quotes

“While Dave makes sure they have everything they need, Marc rides in circles in the driveway, getting used to the bike and reacquainting himself with using clip-in pedals.” Page 137, Dave has the full kit available for Marc, because his father, Jack, is a cyclist.

“You might want to pace yourself.” Dave says to Marc on Page 138.

“He needs to find a way to explain this to his uncle.” Page 138

  • Dave gets his uncle to see his point by asking his uncle to explains something to him.
  • This is very similar to the Socratic method used by Jonah in The Goal.

“In our case, we had six or seven hours of daylight, so I asked you to choose a route of four to five hours and left a couple of hours as a buffer.” Marc explains buffers to Dave on Page 139.

“If you run out of energy, you’re in trouble. So, in addition to time, there is something else that we need to watch today, and that’s our energy.” Dave explains to Marc that time is not the only constraint, Page 140.

“All the food we have for the ride is what’s in our pockets.” Dave explains to Marc, Page 140.

“We can’t afford to run out of power, but we don’t want to eat too much, either.” Dave to Marc, Page 141.

“When something important is at stake, you better have buffers.” Page 141.

“Once they started to implement the rules of flow, the work got tight; they let go of a lot of safety. But unexpected delays are bound to happen, and they have no buffers.” Marc recalls his concerns from the end of Chapter 22 now at the end of Chapter 23, Page 142

Posted in Goldratt's Rules of Flow | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Goldratt’s Rules of Flow: Chapter 22 – “What Changes to Expect?”

I was hard on Dr. Efrat Goldratt-Ashlag for her earlier writing – here she does a wonderful job facilitating a classroom discussion that builds off of complex topics I first learned of reading her father’s work, and she does a masterful job. Towards the end of the goal, after Rogo’s promotion, there is a great deal of ‘written thought’ in chapters that detail more complex topics around cultural change and the goals of an organization, Chapter 36 is a good example. In Chapter 22 of Rules of Flow, Dr. Efrat brings in many of those topics and does so after outlining a topic – dependent events and statistical fluctuations – that drives variability in project execution and planning. Her father extended the topic and its impact to give it depth; her master stroke here is instead to bring the topic together to show its impact and drive home the importance of short communication loops and psychological safety when working on projects.

This chapter is just as good as Chapter 20, the Turkey Dinner Chapter, in the lively pacing and the importance of the message.

Best Quotes, Writing (Pages 127 – 136)

“Working on projects involves considerable risk management; uncertainty is pretty much the name of the game.” Professor Rick Silver, Page 127

“They’ll give a much higher estimate; an estimate that they believe they can meet even if something goes wrong.” Ted to Professor Silver, Page 128

  • Workers don’t want to be late, so they all sandbag a little.
  • Each of those sandbags, those buffers, accumulates – extending the projected completion time farther than is pragmatic.
  • The constraint is transparent communication and a common planning method.

Ted doesn’t buy it.”If there is so much safety, then how come we don’t see many projects finish ahead of time?”

“That’s because you’re doing a very good job wasting it,” says Rick. An exchange on Page 129

“What you are describing is a classic example of another phenomenon that wastes safety: Parkinson’s Law.”(7) Rick recites, “the work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” – Page 130

  • This is the seventh and final reference in the book.
  • Link to the original 1957 Parkinson Paper.

Rick continues, “There are also other cases in which people finish their tasks early, but they are reluctant to report it.” – Page 131.

  • Psychological safety is essential to effective leadership and project execution.
  • Team members must have confidence their candid feedback will be well received, otherwise flow of information becomes a constraint.

“Once he limited the number of projects his people work on in parallel, the chaos went away, and they were able to really focus on the few projects they were working on.” Marc reflects during class, Page 131

“Once you remove the major obstacles the main thing that happens is that the flow of projects gets going.” – Page 132.

“Like, a week ago my team found a problem that could be easily fixed by another team. We asked our manager if we could transfer the task to them or spend a lot more time working on it from our end.” He chuckles. “As a matter of fact, we’re still waiting for her to decide.” Classmate Charlie highlights how decision making becomes a higher level constraint, Page 132.

“The experts and managers need to be as efficient as possible and do their best not to hold the projects back.” Professor Silver highlights the constraint of leadership and decision making, Page 133.

“Solving problems should become one of their top priorities.” Professor Silver on Leadership and Decisions, Page 134.

“Everyone should be encouraged to bring up problems as soon as they surface so that they can be addressed as early as possible.” Marc says to the class, Page 135.

“If you have a task that should take ten days and you wait until the eight or ninth day to alert your manager that something is wrong, most probably won’t finish the task on time. But if you alert the manager on the first or second day and it’s a high priority for them to help you, there is a much better chance the problem will be resolved without a delay in the project.” Rick explains the importance of candor and quick communication to the class, Page 134.

“You bet it’s different,” Rick emphasizes. “It is a real cultural change.” Page 134.

“He can’t shake the feeling that something is missing, but he can’t put his finger on it.” Marc thinks to himself as he leaves class on Page 135.

Posted in Goldratt's Rules of Flow | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Goldratt’s Rules of Flow: Chapter 22 – “What Changes to Expect?”

Goldratt’s Rules of Flow: Chapter 21 – “One-on-One”

[If you haven’t read the original version of The Goal – it’s the original, the classic. Here’s a chapter-by-chapter video summary, and a <60 second summary too.][Click here for a video summary of Rules of Flow.]

This is a clever chapter title as it reflects at least three ‘one-on-ones’!

  1. Marc has a ‘one-on-one’ meeting with Linda, his top software project lead.
  2. Linda brings up that she wants to go ‘one-on-one’ and focus all her time on the company’s software needs and Marc as a savvy leader agrees with her idea.
  3. Lastly, Marc and Abbie wind up each at the same restaurant – recommended by the clever Linda – where they have dinner together – ‘one-on-one’.

Does that make this chapter a ‘three-on-one-on-one’?

Best Writing, Quotes

“He can tell these short meetings make a difference and his people look forward to them.” Marc, Page 123

“By using AI capabilities they are able to make the robotic arm adjust its reactions to changing conditions in ways that weren’t possible before.” Marc listens to Linda, the team’s software expert on Page 124. In some ways, it sounds like she may be programming a descendant of the NCX-10 from The Goal.

“No one is allowed to interrupt me when I’m working.” Linda knows how to defend her calendar – Page 124.

“I would like to dedicate all my time to software.” Linda makes a bold recommendation and Marc is wise enough to listen, Page 125.

“Looking at the big picture it makes sense for Linda to work solely on code.” Page 126

“Dinner is over but neither of them seems in any particular hurry to call it a night.” Marc and Abbie both wind up at the same ‘hip new restaurant’ recommended by Linda, Page 126.

  • When I talk about Goldratt, Theory of Constraints, and The Goal – using these emotional / personal scenes is really helpful in promoting a healthy dialog.
  • Even well worn tropes like “Will they? Won’t they?” make what would be a technical discussion more relevant to the team discussing the topic.
  • All that’s missing in continuing the ‘three-on-one-on-one’ (311?) metaphor, would be for Marc to lean in to Abbie and tell her, “Amber is the color of your energy.
Posted in Goldratt's Rules of Flow | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Goldratt’s Rules of Flow: Chapter 21 – “One-on-One”

Goldratt’s Rules of Flow: Chapter 20 – “Synchronization” … Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner Operations

[If you haven’t read the original version of The Goal – it’s the original, the classic. Here’s a chapter-by-chapter video summary, and a <60 second summary too.][Click here for a video summary of Rules of Flow.]

A tweet two days before this chapter! Good timing.

This chapter changed my mind about this book, I now recommend it. Chapter 20’s focus on the American holiday of Thanksgiving, which focuses on the preparation of a Turkey, can go down as a more famous Goldratt-ian metaphor than Herbie and his famous scout hike from The Goal (Chapter 13, Chapter 15). Executive MBA professor Rick Silver has asked his class to study synchronization – which is simply aligning the goals of the organization to the primary constraint. For US Thanksgiving – this is the preparation of the turkey, which takes the longest and utilizes the primary tool for cooking, the oven.

The team at Goldratt and North River Press should push this chapter starting in October of each year, well ahead of the late November holiday. Make humorous videos where intellectual kids return from school to realize the wisdom of the way their parents run a kitchen. Re-write the chapter for different cultures to focus on other famous family meals and traditions. Promote the chapter on cooking shows which always appear desperate for interesting tie-ins.

Best Writing, Quotes:

“He was looking for a project that needs synchronization for his homework in the Rules of Flow course, and figures that Thanksgiving dinner is a perfect fit.” – Page 117

“When Marc enters the kitchen, he is surprised to find his mother sitting at the table having coffee. The turkey is already in the oven.” Page 117

  • The people doing the work know what to do.
  • She’s not busy for the sake of being busy.
  • How does a 32 year old man have no idea how Thanksgiving dinner works?

“Well, this is a complicated project that needs to be carefully planned and meticulously executed.” Laura, Marc’s mother on Page 118

“Knowing that enables me to calculate how many pounds of turkey we need and figure out the quantities for all the other dishes,” Laura continues. Page 118

“Earlier in the week I made a comprehensive grocery list and double-checked that I got all the ingredients I need. If I find that something is missing in the middle of cooking, all my planning might go down the drain.” Laura, Page 118

“To get the turkey in the oven by eight I needed to make the stuffing the day before.” Laura explains that at times the oven is the constraint to throughput, Page 118. A major constraint to the success of the project, that will be hit on later in the book, is Laura’s expertise.

“If we make the peas too early they will get cold and mushy and we’ll have to make new ones.” Page 119 – this is a call back to Chapter 11, “The Misconception About Starting Early.”

“Well, since we only have one oven, and it is occupied by the turkey for most of the day, all the other dishes have to be planned around it.” Laura, Page 119.

“Who cares if I’m efficient in making the casserole?” Laura replies to Marc’s idea of using a croc pot to bypass the oven on Page 120.

“You need to look at the big picture, Marc. Take all the other tasks into consideration and see where [when] would be the right time to take care of each dish.” Laura, Page 120

“To meet the due date on projects of this type, we have to start by scheduling the major task and then coordinating all the other tasks with it. We need to take into account how long it takes to perform each of the other tasks and what resources are required for them. We don’t want to work on one task when we should be working on another, and we certainly don’t want to get stuck because we need a specific resource while it is occupied by other tasks.” Page 121

“You need to identify the “turkeys”, the key people who are usually also the busiest, an synchronize everyone else’s schedules with theirs.” Page 121

  • “Turkey” is the new “Herbie.”

“But what if it was a multi-project environment and she was also preparing a different meal for the neighbors?” Marc extends his thought process on Page 122.

Bonus: Turkey Frying is a Bypass of the Oven Constraint

In our family, we use a turkey fryer. Lots of us work in project management – both software and manufacturing. The turkey fryer takes the turkey out of the oven – and takes it all the way outdoors. It is viewed as a masculine activity (?), so we activate half the Thanksgiving holiday participants to get involved, and we free up the house – especially the kitchen. This helps get everyone involved in preparation – it makes coordination easier because the cooking is faster, more people are involved, more space is utilized. However, it is not easy to produce a central ‘Laura’ who is the expert now, in fact we’ve got to create a totally different skill set for safely running a frying operation that is only completed once a year.

Posted in Goldratt's Rules of Flow | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Goldratt’s Rules of Flow: A Summary of Part 2 of 3 – Chapters 9 – 19, Pages 47 – 116

Chapters 9 – 12 kick off with Marc Wilson working with his work-crush Abbie to change their approach to project management; telling the team the plan, iterating once they have feedback, and dealing with customer response to the changing methods. Chapters 13 – 18 introduce the concept of “Full Kit” which is a checklist of the necessary ingredients for a successful completion of the next stage of the project. Chapters 13, 16, and 19 are set in the executive MBA classroom of Rick Silver, who serves as the ‘Jonah’ of Rules of Flow. In Chapter 19, the topic of ‘synchronization’ is introduced.

Marc’s team improves their throughput by making the suggested changes about ‘triage’ and controlling WIP that were made in Chapters 1-8. Marc’s sister running the production site becomes frustrated with a deluge of completed projects, indicating that in the last part of the book we should find some Goldratt perspectives on improving the performance of the entire entity, not just Mark’s realm. This is similar to how Alex Rogo is promoted in Chapter 31 of The Goal and with that gets greater perspective. We learn that Isaac, Marc’s father, has an incurable disease that he has not told his kids about, and that he plans to sell the business to a private equity firm.

Chapters 1- 8 (Link)

Marc Wilson, age 32, runs the engineering team for his father, Isaac at the business he created Wilson Advanced Solutions. In the first chapter they loose their biggest customer, Doolen, because their projects are too late, which leads Isaac to say he’s thinking of selling the business. Marc enrolls in an executive MBA program, where his Professor Richard Silver teaches a class on rules of flow. Marc visits his older sister, Sam, who runs the production team at a location in the South and has a successful family – Marc is single and lonely. In class Marc learns about triage and the harmful effects of multitasking.

Chapter 9 – “Will it work?” (Link)

Marc visits with Abbie about cutting the WIP – freezing projects – in order to increase their throughput. Abbie observes that if they want to cut execution time in half, they should probably cut the WIP in half too. These observations are very similar to ones made in Chapter 28 of The Goal.

Chapter 10 – “The Multitasking Game” (Link)

After deciding to move forward in Chapter 9, Marc and Abbie take their idea to the engineering project team – where they meet with some expected resistance. Nonetheless, they persevere.

These observations are very similar to ones made in Chapter 28 of The Goal. The playing of the game is also very similar to what Alex Rogo does with his son’s scout troop in Chapter 14, between Chapters 13 and 15, which encapsulate Herbie’s famous scout hike.

Chapter 11 – “The Misconception About Starting Early” (Link)

Isaac, Marc’s father, hears from a customer that the company’s approach to projects is changing. He meets with Isaac to learn more, and respects his son’s decision to make a bold change. Efrat Goldratt-Ashlag uses a similar writing technique as her father did with Alex Rogo in Chapter 7 of The Goal – the primary character’s ability to retreat is removed, forcing them to try approaches that would otherwise be seen as reckless. Just as Rogo follows Jonah in The Goal to make big changes that are contrary to popular opinion, Marc follows Professor Richard Silver’s guidance on changing their approach to projects because otherwise the business will fail.

Chapter 12 – “Dynamics of Theories and Trends” (Link)

On a Friday evening a few weeks later, Abbie tells Marc that some of the team is idle and unhappy about it. Marc goes on a blind date with Tina. In some ways, the writing about Marc is as unsatisfying as the description of Julie in The Goal.

Chapter 13 – “Full kit” (Link)

Marc is back in Rick Silver’s executive MBA classroom. Professor Silver introduces the concept of “full-kit” or thorough preparation via a written checklist and how to use a stage-gate type process to ensure full-kit before beginning a project. After the class Marc calls Abbie in excitement to let her know he’s got a solution for their woes, and is disappointed to find she is going out on a date.

Chapter 14 – “T Minus Preparation” (Link)

Marc and Abbie roll out the ‘full-kit’ concept to their team. Marc shows Abbie his ‘WIP Board’ and learns that when he caught Abbie on the Saturday evening, her blind date had gone poorly. Abbie and Marc seem lonely, and the ‘will-they-won’t-they’ tension in the writing feels like the constant tension between Alex and Julie Rogo. I wonder if there will be a “You bastard!” misunderstanding scene like there was in Chapter 24 of The Goal.

Chapter 15 – “Enough Weight, Enough Repetitions” (Link)

The author puts the protagonist into a social setting to put the concepts into a different light. Marc lifts with his friend Tim, there are similarities between lifting and focusing on projects. Marc is no longer dating Tina, but hints that he would not date Abbie because she is a co-worker. At just two pages, this short chapter is stylistically similar to Chapter 7 from The Goal; Goldratt used several short chapters to advance the story.

Chapter 16 – “Dosage” (Link)

Marc is back in Professor Rick Silver’s executive MBA course. Professor Richard Silver brings in two guests to talk about the concept of ‘dosage’ for projects, which is really the ‘batch size’ or ‘amount of work done’ for a project. One guest worked in aircraft maintenance and the other in corrections – the concept of dosage helped improve the flow of both of their processes. The concept of dosage here is similar to that of batch size that Goldratt originally focused on in Chapter 28.

Chapter 17 – “Full Kit Before Production” (Link)

The Full-kit concept, first introduced in Chapter 13 continues to be refined – just as Eliyahu Goldratt used Rogo’s experience in the plant to refine key concepts in The Goal. By having clear checklists and only kicking off projects that have the necessary ingredients for success, Marc sees his department is getting more done and the people appear to be happier. His sister, Sam, running the company’s plant is unhappy and calls to tell him so – because Marc’s team increased throughput is releasing more to her team than she is prepared to handle. Similar to the original Goal, where the constraint is perceived to be the robot, the NCX-10, it turns out that there are more constraints once the process is fully mapped. Marc reflects on their situation with Abbie and they note that these ‘gates’ are effective and worth implementing in more positions in their project management process.

Chapter 18 – “Additional Gates” (Link)

We follow our protagonist to a new setting, his parent’s home. Marc has dinner with his parents, Laura and Isaac. A reminder that Isaac is the owner of the business – they apparently haven’t spoken in a month, which is not a good indicator for Isaac’s leadership capabilities. Isaac likes the results of the ‘Rules of Flow’ so far, but shoots down the idea of implementing a “Gate Zero” because he, “understands the customers better.” After Marc leaves, Laura says that his ideas were good, but Isaac rebuffs her as well and we learn that he has some disease that has not been disclosed to his son and that he is under letter of intent (“LOI”) with a private equity firm to sell the business.

It’s easy to put on another hat and see Isaac as a terrible boss and father who doesn’t listen to his son / employee while withholding critical information – his untreatable terminal illness and pending sale of the company. Write this story with that angle and it becomes a warning tale about narcissism and other dark triad activity.

Chapter 19 – “Rework and Standardization” (Link)

Marc is back in his executive MBA course with Professor Richard Silver. The class discusses many topics, Marc observes that local optimization is a trap – in the same way that Jonah pointed out this issue to Alex Rogo in Chapter 8 of The Goal. The fact that rework is a waste of resources and an indicator of other problems is discussed. Rick introduces the concept of synchronization which is the homework assignment.

Posted in Books, Goldratt's Rules of Flow | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Goldratt’s Rules of Flow: A Summary of Part 2 of 3 – Chapters 9 – 19, Pages 47 – 116

Goldratt’s Rules of Flow: Chapter 19 – “Rework and Standardization”

[If you haven’t read the original version of The Goal – it’s a better book. Here’s a chapter-by-chapter video summary, and a <60 second summary too.]

Marc is back in his executive MBA course with Professor Richard Silver. The class discusses many topics, Marc observes that local optimization is a trap – in the same way that Jonah pointed out this issue to Alex Rogo in Chapter 8 of The Goal. The fact that rework is a waste of resources and an indicator of other problems is discussed. Rick introduces the concept of synchronization which is the homework assignment.

Best Writing, Quotes

“I have tried talking with my bosses about implementing triage and reducing the bad multitasking and I hit a brick wall.” Charlie, the construction guy, in class to Professor Silver Page 109

“These local efforts are not only useless, they are harmful.” Marc says to the class on Page 109

“Think about it, management attention is the number one constraint in most organizations. We better use it where it counts.” Professor Rick Silver to the executive MBA class on Page 110

“Having to redo the same tasks is clearly a waste of time and resources, and by definition it unnecessarily clogs the flow.” Charlie to the class, Page 111

“But if there is an issue with the way we operate that makes us repeat certain tasks on an ongoing basis, it is definitely an obstacle to our flow that we should pinpoint and handle.” Rick to the class, Page 111

“Is it because they start to work too early before the scope of the project is finalized, is the goal of the project ill-defined, or is it something else?” Rick to the class, Page 112

“Be aware that rework is [not just] an obstacle to flow on its own, but often it is a result of other obstacles.” Rick, Page 112

“If we improvise on a constant basis in important tasks, then it is most likely an obstacle to our flow.” Rick Page 112

“Having standard templates for their projects will significantly reduce the time it takes to write proposals.” Marc thinks to himself on Page 113

“For your homework, choose a project that just such a prominent task in it and figure out the needed synchronization.” Rick to the class, page 114

“Or choose another project that has nothing to do with your line of work.” Rick shuts down a student who claims they have no such synchronization issues, Page 116

Posted in Goldratt's Rules of Flow | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment