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Elliot Temple on March 3, 2020

Messages (32)

> "It’s how physicists approach a subject; it’s so vastly different from what we do in business. They don’t start by collecting as much data as possible. On the contrary, they start with one phenomenon, some fact of life, almost randomly chosen, and then they raise a hypothesis: a speculation of a plausible cause for the existence of that fact. [...]"

Excerpt From: Eliyahu Goldratt. “The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement.” Apple Books.

curi at 1:51 PM on March 3, 2020 | #15720 | reply | quote

I don't know very accurate book sales numbers (I'd be interested if anyone finds them), but *The Goal* has sold over 6 million copies and *Atlas Shrugged* over 7 million. These numbers are far higher than most philosophers like Popper (though I don't know his specific numbers).

curi at 1:56 PM on March 3, 2020 | #15721 | reply | quote

I sent an email to North River Press, the publisher, to ask about sales number. From some preliminary research online, it seems like only the publisher can know how well their sales have gone; other sources are all approximations from stuff like Amazon ranking.

Freeze at 3:47 PM on March 3, 2020 | #15722 | reply | quote

Comment #15722 is referring to *The Goal*, I forgot to mention that.

Freeze at 3:48 PM on March 3, 2020 | #15723 | reply | quote


patio11 AMA. It's OK. Nothing especially great IMO.

I think patio11 hasn't read Goldratt, despite having recommended *The Phoenix Project* in Jan 2018: https://twitter.com/patio11/status/957876143666819072

Why else wouldn't he have answered my AMA question "Opinion of Eli Goldratt and Theory of Constraints?" (7 upvotes; submitted before the AMA started).

It's just the sort of thing he ought to read. Fits his interests. He's ignored me saying Goldratt related things before. Something is broken. More broadly, all the Goldratt related websites I see look really dated. It should be spreading better. It's had a lot of success for a lot of businesses. I don't know what the problem is.

curi at 11:53 PM on March 10, 2020 | #15845 | reply | quote

#15845 For some reason patio11 answered now, even though the AMA ended yesterday and I expect most of the audience is now gone.


> I enjoyed the Phoenix Project a lot but don't have super-developed thoughts on the Theory of Constraints. (More business advice should be placed in a well-executed fictional narrative.)

I think that means he hasn't read any Goldratt, despite positive exposure to Goldratt ideas. Something is screwy there that he doesn't follow leads on good ideas – I'd guess that's just normal passivity like you see in tons of other people, nothing TOC-specific.

curi at 9:37 AM on March 11, 2020 | #15848 | reply | quote

Goldratt talks about dollar-days. E.g. looking at late orders, multiply the number of days late by the dollars the order is worth. This gives you a metric that takes into account both lateness and order size.

This sort of approach is in use for health:


> One DALY can be thought of as one lost year of "healthy" life. The sum of these DALYs across the population, or the burden of disease

They basically multiply the number of years that a disease effects by the severity of the diseases to get a combined, overall metric. That's like ordering number of days late by severity (importance of that order, in dollars).

Death is a severity of 1. So if you die at 50, and life expectancy is 25, you'll add 25*1 to the result: 25 DALYs. Disabilities have factors between 0 and 1, so maybe being blind is like being half dead, and being in bed with flu is like being three quarters dead but only affects a limited time period. I don't know what factors they use.

curi at 7:27 PM on March 11, 2020 | #15861 | reply | quote

Learn From Emergencies

Goldratt said (paraphrasing from memory):

People use different policies and rules during an emergency. They change what they do to cope with the crisis.

After an emergency, they should look carefully at what they did during the emergency. Should any of it be used all the time?

Their emergency behavior reveals a lot of their intuition and common sense thinking about what will be effective. It's worth careful review. It often contains some good ideas.


The context of Goldratt's advice was a business facing an emergency like a warehouse flooded, not a coronavirus pandemic. But it applies to a coronavirus pandemic too.

Sometimes people notice a bit of this in a haphazard way. E.g.:


> Maybe we should govern like we're in a pandemic more often:

(Then he gave some political policy bullet points that he likes, which I partly agree with and partly disagree with.)


My notes on Goldratt on emergencies, from my Eli Goldratt Screencasts product:

> People use simple, intuitive solutions to handle emergencies. Whatever worked in an emergency has something good and powerful about it – it’s so good it solved an emergency that the normal system could not handle. So consider using it all the time, even when there is no emergency. You’ll have to consider what harm it will cause to use it on an ongoing basis, and how you can fix that, and if you work that out then you may have invented a great approach.

curi at 12:45 PM on March 17, 2020 | #16013 | reply | quote

What does Goldratt say about drivers of behaviour? Problem solving behaviour more specifically

Anonymous at 11:29 PM on April 7, 2020 | #16303 | reply | quote

#16303 What sort of behavior? Can you be more specific about the question or issue?

curi at 11:32 PM on April 7, 2020 | #16304 | reply | quote

#16304 My question is: how sophisticated is his model for behaviour? Many different drivers taken into account? Good/ deep explanation of behaviour or not ?

Anonymous at 1:14 PM on April 8, 2020 | #16308 | reply | quote

#16308 In general TOC talks about how to think, how to do problem solving, and how to organize projects, production, businesses. It's about logical analysis not modeling how ppl act. TOC's comments on human psychology and behavior come up sometimes b/c TOC wants to help ppl change behavior so they can make improvements, so e.g. TOC talks about why ppl resist change and how to deal with that in a practical way, which is still not presenting some sort of behavioral model.

curi at 1:19 PM on April 8, 2020 | #16309 | reply | quote

CR, btw, has much less of a model of human behavior than TOC does. Almost none. I don't know why behavior models are being brought up.

curi at 1:20 PM on April 8, 2020 | #16310 | reply | quote

TOC Streams

I wrote about TOC on stream yesterday:


I am writing about TOC again on stream right now:


curi at 1:46 PM on April 8, 2020 | #16311 | reply | quote

#16310 because behaviour models are key if you want to have any success in introducing CR in organisations, and even ToC. CR works well for Critical Rationalists ... in an organisation you have a mix ... I do believe that the share of CR-type thinking can increase in an organisation. But it requires behaviour change to incorporate the change in thinking

Anonymous at 1:51 PM on April 8, 2020 | #16312 | reply | quote

TOC addresses how to introduce TOC to organizations.

curi at 1:53 PM on April 8, 2020 | #16313 | reply | quote

You cannot talk about "how to introduce something into an organisation" without talking about behaviour change models that allow to "introduce" this. Because you don't "introduce something IN an organisation" ... but "... in the (new) behaviour of the people in the organisation". Most management books fall in that trap

Anonymous at 1:56 PM on April 8, 2020 | #16314 | reply | quote

#16314 If you read a TOC idea and have a criticism of it, please share. I don't see the value in these broad comments about how a topic must be approached in a particular way (described in only a couple words so we might not even be talking about the same thing – maybe TOC has the thing you want, I don't know, you haven't explained it much). CR teaches us that in general we can approach problems in many different ways, there isn't one royal road to truth.

curi at 1:59 PM on April 8, 2020 | #16315 | reply | quote

The part "introducing something into an organisation" is interesting ... more so than the theory of ToC. But then we are maybe in the wrong discussion tread ... Can we continue on this question somewhere else ?

Anonymous at 2:01 PM on April 8, 2020 | #16316 | reply | quote

You're welcome to click "Open Discussion" on the sidebar and post there. You can also use any other post with a relevant title (look via "List All Posts" or "Archives" on the sidebar). I'm not very picky as long as stuff is a little bit on topic or connects to previous on-topic discussion so staying here is fine too.

I think you should read some TOC and see what it says before commenting on things like how interesting TOC theory is or isn't.

curi at 2:07 PM on April 8, 2020 | #16317 | reply | quote


It was a personal comment linked ... fallible for sure ... My experience personally is that management theories/ explanations generally do not stack up against theories about physics/ evolution/ math/ epistemology/ ...

ToC may be an exception ... (maybe because it comes from a mathematician)

Anonymous at 2:12 PM on April 8, 2020 | #16318 | reply | quote

Goldratt says TOC is application of scientific method. Second paragraph of the Forward of *The Choice*:

> Early on I was aware that Eli is actually on a quest to demonstrate that the approach and methods of the hard sciences can and should be applied to the social sciences. He initially targeted management science, claiming that since in that branch of the social sciences results are measurable, people find it harder to dispute the superiority of using the hard science techniques. It was fascinating to see how gradually the business world accepted Eli's work in spite of the fact that so much of it is a drastic departure from tradition. His Theory of Constraints (TOC) is now taught at almost every business school and MBA program and has been used by thousands of companies and government agencies worldwide. TOC has been successfully applied in almost every area of human endeavor, from industry to health care to education.

"I" = Goldratt's daughter. The book is a collaboration between him and his daughter. It's written from her perspective.

curi at 2:14 PM on April 8, 2020 | #16319 | reply | quote


#16319 My mistake. In general "I" = his daughter in that book. But in the Foreward it's a guy from Goldratt's book publisher.

curi at 2:22 PM on April 8, 2020 | #16320 | reply | quote

Not Overcomplicating Things


One thing I like about Goldratt is his focus on how people overly complicate things and how solutions are often simple.

For instance, in *The Choice*, he and his daughter have the following exchange:

> "The first and most profound obstacle [to people using their brainpower] is that people believe that reality is complex, and therefore they are looking for sophisticated explanations for complicated solutions. Do you understand how devastating this is?"

> “I have a hunch, but I'd rather have you explain."

> “I’m looking for a good analogy," he says while his eyes search the ceiling. "Suppose that you have “an excellent screwdriver, and you need to take out a screw from a piece of wood. You have the right tool for the task, but for some reason, you think that it's not a screw but a nail. How successful will you be? In such a case, to claim that you don't have a good enough tool is ridiculous. There is nothing wrong with people's brainpower; there is something very wrong with people's perception of reality. The biggest obstacle is that people grasp reality as complex when actually it is surprisingly simple.”

One thing I have done after reading Goldratt is look to see whether I am overcomplicating stuff.

One recent project I have been applying this to is cleaning/organizing my apartment. I have a long-term project of cleaning and organizing my apartment better that I’ve made some progress on. I’ve made more progress recently, due to feeling very high motivation to make the space I’m in approximately 24 hours a day nicer.

Here are some examples of how I had an initial thought and then realized I might be overcomplicating stuff:

1. I have some drawers that are near a wall corner, but a bit pulled out from the corner. I wanted them to be flush up against the wall and fully in the corner, but there was a floor lamp behind the shelves actually occupying the corner. Both the shelves and the floor lamp are next to a desk. I still want a light in that general area. I initially considered whether I should get a desk lamp. For now, I solved the problem by simply moving the floor lamp from the corner to behind the desk (the desk is pulled out a bit from the wall, not totally flush, so there is space). This solved my initial problem. If I decide I want the desk more flush with the wall, I may revisit my solution.

2. I’m trying to move some stuff that I’m currently storing in my living room to the kitchen in order to open up the living room more. I have the stuff in little storage bins. I considered some initial ideas like: install some shelving in kitchen, buy some magnetic bins I can put on refrigerator and use those. But I realized that I can solve at least part of my problem by just putting the storage bins on some of the space on top of my kitchen cabinets.

3. I use my living room as a workout space. I’m on the third floor. I tried a higher energy cardio workout than I generally do and it was kinda loud. I wondered if I should get a large workout mat that can accommodate such exercises. I’ve decided that for now, I should probably just do less loud exercises, and when the coronavirus situation improves, go for a run outside or do higher impact stuff at the little park area across the street if I wanna do louder stuff.

There is also a bigger picture aspect to the whole avoid-overcomplicating-stuff idea which unites some of these examples. I was considering moving as a solution to my desire to have a nicer living space. That’s not totally off the table, but I have a rent situation in my current place that compares favorably with even other “affordable” DC housing options. So my efforts to clean up my apartment and make my apartment nicer are part of a simpler solution — the “make the current place nicer” solution — for the “have a nicer living space” problem than the “move to a nicer place” solution.

Relatedly, I realized that I have somewhat of a “hoarding” problem, where I keep stuff way past the time where it is providing value to me. I’ve tried asking myself this sequence of questions whenever I’m unclear whether I should throw something out:

1. Has this item provided me value/served my life in the past 6 months?

2. Will this item likely provide me value/serve my life in the next 6 months?

3. Does this item have some particular significance, personal or sentimental attachment, etc., which would motivate me to keep it?

4. Does this item offer some functional benefit/utility which is hard to find, hard to replace, and/or unique in some way?

5. Is this item particularly valuable in financial terms?

If I answer “no” to all then that makes me more comfortable in tossing the item. Tossing the item is a relatively simple solution compared with trying to figure out how to store/organize it in an ongoing way. It does require me thinking about and changing my preference about whether or not to keep the item, but that’s not too hard if I’m trying.

An Unmysterious J at 12:29 PM on April 15, 2020 | #16364 | reply | quote

I should have mentioned that the previous post was a comment on a Discord chat message involving applying Goldratt's ideas rather than giving the direct link. I was gonna paste the post directly into Discord, where the link would make sense, but got character-limit pwned. My apologies

An Unmysterious J at 12:31 PM on April 15, 2020 | #16365 | reply | quote

I read *Hanging Fire*. Pretty bad and no substantive new ideas. I wouldn't recommend reading it. Mostly it just repeats the info in Critical Chain but explains it worse.

curi at 7:44 PM on June 9, 2020 | #16655 | reply | quote

Rami Goldratt: How Constraints & Conflicts can Drive Change, Be The Change - IIMBue 2019

Eli Goldratt's son Rami is CEO of Goldratt consulting.

Here he talks about one aspect of TOC theory -- breaking inertia.


GISTE at 5:49 AM on September 23, 2020 | #18110 | reply | quote

#18110 I watched 9min. Not impressed.

curi at 12:35 PM on September 23, 2020 | #18111 | reply | quote


Article claiming Critical Chain lost popularity and explaining why.

curi at 3:47 PM on October 2, 2020 | #18217 | reply | quote

EG recommends book by Scheinkopf _Thinking for a Change: Putting the TOC Thinking Processes to Use_

Eli Goldratt recommended a book (best book on the subject according to Eli) on building current reality trees. i learned of this while studying the GSP (session 5). the context was a question someone asked about building a current reality tree of a product/service for a scenario where the company is new and the product/service doesn't exist yet.

_Thinking for a Change: Putting the TOC Thinking Processes to Use_, by Lisa J. Scheinkopf


GISTE at 4:52 AM on October 5, 2020 | #18232 | reply | quote

Article claiming Critical Chain lost popularity and explaining why


i read the article. here's the first paragraph that i have a comment on:

> Critical chain became less relevant in more modern or recent projects where there exist several chains of the same length. In the past, when resources were more stable, a critical chain could be significantly longer than any other chain of activities. Today, if the critical chain is really that long, it will often be reduced by outsourcing activities. The location of the critical chain is moving all the time as projects get condensed.

some thoughts. from what i understood of TOC, a critical chain (in projects) is like a bottleneck (in production).

In projects, the critical chain is the longest chain. And the quoted paragraph says that in today's multi-project environments, there is no longest chain (there are many of the same length). This reminded me of the following:

In production, in some companies (due to poor management) you have the wondering bottleneck effect. That means there's no bottleneck. It means the "bottleneck" keeps switching without anyone being able to correctly predict where the bottleneck will be next week. This is broken and the solution requires controlling the situation such that the bottleneck is stable (meaning that it doesn't move until you decide to move it, e.g. from the market to some place internal to the company).

I think the same logic should apply in multi-project environments. If you have a "wondering critical chain", that's broken. You should change your company such that the critical chain is stable (doesn't move unless you move it).

If i'm wrong, that means that something about multi-project environments, at least how they are done in some environments today, doesn't allow the opportunity to control the critical chain (prevent the "wondering criticial chain" effect). So like, can the chain lengths be changed for the purpose of controlling which chain is the critical chain? I don't see why not. but I don't have intuition for multi-project environments.

rereading the quoted paragraph... wtf! The author says "Today, if the critical chain is really that long, it will often be reduced by outsourcing activities." So, such a company is *choosing* to reduce the chain lengths. They are causing the situation where there are many chains of the same length. According to TOC (as I understand it), they shouldn't be doing that. They are causing the "wondering critical chain" effect.

I don't think this article is good. It doesn't talk about TOC's scope (or specifically, the scope of the TOC special case solution for multi-project environments). And it doesn't talk about how current multi-project environments don't fit within the scope of the TOC special case solution for multi-project environments.

Maybe the article is right that TOC's special case solution for multi-project environments doesn't work anymore because multi-project environments changed in such a way that the TOC special case solution would need to change with it. But this article doesn't argue it.

The article didn't talk about the problems that TOC is intended to solve. or rather, the problems that *the TOC special case solution to multi-project environments* is intended to solve. And he doesn't say how his rival theory does solve those problems.

One of the problems that TOC addresses is how company decisions get made regarding interdependent subsystems of a company (a multi-project environment is an example). What's the standard in the business world today? People choose which projects to work on based on who is yelling the loudest (which means deciding arbitrarily) -- it could be the customer yelling at the project manager, and then the project manager yelling at the resource manager to place his people on said project (switching them away from the project they were working on). This causes bad batching and results in less productivity. TOC fixes this by not deciding by yelling and instead by judging decisions by their effect on throughput.

GISTE at 4:55 AM on November 2, 2020 | #18559 | reply | quote

Goldratt knew about Popper. From *The Choice*:

> "Correct," he [Goldratt] confirms. "That is the basis of science as was formulated by Karl Popper. In science, every claim, every hypothesis, every cause is considered to be relevant only if it can be put to the test. A test that potentially is capable of disproving the claim. Otherwise we are not talking about science but pseudoscience, about witchcraft. And yes, Daughter, more often than not, once we come up with a predicted effect, we realize that it doesn't exist and therefore the hypothesis is wrong. You may come up with ten predicted effects that turn out to exist, and then you think a little more and you come up with the eleventh predicted effect that doesn't exist and that single one is enough to shatter the validity of the proposed cause. The more predicted effects are verified, the higher the validity of the cause, but there is always the possibility that tomorrow will bring yet another predicted effect, and that one will turn out not to exist. We can never be sure that something is absolutely true."

curi at 7:57 PM on November 23, 2020 | #18832 | reply | quote

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