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.

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

  1. Pingback: Goldratt’s Rules of Flow: Chapter 22 – “What Changes to Expect?” | Fred Lybrand

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