[I used to write a lot of book reviews, but I stopped mid last year. I don't intend to re-start on a regular basis, but The Choice was so good I felt compelled to make an exception. I also posted this to my Goodreads account, the review is here - the only difference is that this blog post contains the mindmap notes I made.]
The Goal introduces the concept of the Theory of Constraints by starting in a factory and identifying a manufacturing bottleneck. Towards the end, it talks about the idea that the thing constraining a business may not be physical, but mental - an idea or policy. The Goal's key idea is a process of ongoing improvement, targeted at whatever the current constraint is.
The sequel to The Goal, It's Not Luck, takes this further, and shows (among other things) how to use logic maps to break down complex problems to find the root cause of the constraint. I've used this process several times, although I learnt the detailed mechanics from The Logical Thinking Process: A Systems Approach to Complex Problem Solving, and it's the most effective problem-solving tool I've found, by an order of magnitude.
The Choice adds a whole new dimension by taking the essence of The Goal (focussing on the constraint) and It's Not Luck (thinking in cause-and-effect) and explains in simple terms how to apply it to, no less, the problem of having a "full, meaningful life". To do this, Goldratt claims - we must have enough successes, which depend on our stamina to overcome setbacks, our ability to create opportunities, and our ability to collaborate with people.
Goldratt's argument is that to achieve these steps to a full life, we must be able to think clearly. But, we are blocked from thinking clearly by four obstacles:
- We see reality as complex, rather than (as Newton showed) a thing of Inherent Simplicity
- We accept conflicts as a given, rather than seeking to remove them
- We blame, rather than assuming goodness and looking for explanations of other people's behaviour
- We think "we know", rather than challenging our assumptions and looking for breakthrough ways to change a situation
I've used Theory of Constraints tools to tackle big- and medium-sized problems before. But I've come away from The Choice enthused to practise day by day, hour by hour. It's an enlightening and inspirational guide to "thinking clearly".