Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Goal is an important read for understanding the Theory of Constraints...just wish it was a powerpoint presentation rather than a romance novel.

Since this book introduced the topic of Theory of Constraints (TOC) to the management field, it's a must read for anyone interested in TOC and how to implement it in manufacturing production.

Personally, I don't like the narrative style of management books and did not like The Goal. I don't know if Dr. Goldratt had dreams of writing romance fiction novels, but I felt there is WAY too much fluff and needless side story that isn't critical to moving the story along.

I admire and appreciate the production management concepts introduced such as identifying throughput bottlenecks, increasing flow, reducing work-in-progress/inventory, and realizing how localized optima can actually decrease overall efficiency of the entire system. The book does a very good job of teaching that simple cost reduction and capital expenditure metrics can be very misleading or worse, downright unproductive. I just wish the book focused more on the theory and practice of TOC and less on marital stress and the main character's relationship with his mother and in-laws.

In short: Do I recommend The Goal?
Yes, if you are a student of TOC or want to learn more about manufacturing production management theory. Just be prepared to read about boy-scout hikes, marital problems, mother-son relationships, and what pizza toppings the characters are eating.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Recommend On Time/On Budget as a good introduction to the basics of managing projects

I just finished reading On Time/On Budget: A Step-by-Step Guide to Managing Any Project by Sunny Baker and Kim Baker. This is a very good introduction for anyone new to project management. The book is not specific for any particular industry, but at the subtitle states, it is a primer to the general topic. Because this book has been around since 1992, you can likely pick it up pretty cheap. I got my copy for 3 dollars at a local used book store.

A nice trait of the book is its clarity and easy reading. The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), sometimes referred to as the Project Management "bible", can be daunting for a newcomer to the field because of all the jargon, processes, and "how to manage everything" approach to project management. By contrast, On Time On Budget does a very good job of stripping away the jargon and complexity, and gives you an easy to read, easy to understand introduction to the basics of managing a business project. If your company doesn't have a lot of Project Management tools or templates for you to use, there are some nice templates at the back of the book that can help you plan, manage, and close out your projects.

Written in 1992, the last chapter on project management software is understandably a bit out of date. The rest of the book is pretty timeless, because no matter how much project management technology improves, the success of every past, present, and future project depends on people being able to manage project scope, schedule, and budget.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

What advice would Sun Tzu give an audience of business leaders today?

I just finished the audiobook of Sun Tzu's classic "The Art of War", which you can download from iTunes for 4 dollars.

Sun Tzu clearly understood battle tactics, but I must say that the hundreds of times that I've heard this book referred to as a business strategy must read is total hype. If you believe the hype that this book will reveal the secrets of a winning business plan, marketing strategy, salesforce motivational piece, and operational competitiveness...don't pay more than 4 bucks for it. It's a fine 1 hour listen. You can decide for yourself how best to adapt Sun Tzu's advice on where to camp relative to the sun, terrain, and weather conditions for your next corporate SWOT analysis.

Have you read or listened to the book? What was your impression?

Other than excellent tactical advice for a military general, how do you think Sun Tzu's wisdom relates to today's business leaders and managers?

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