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Grand Daddy of Quality - Eliyahu Goldratt - GoLeanSixSigma.com

He was a cigar-chomping, salty-tongued educator who wrote a manufacturing love story. Eli Goldratt left us way too soon but will always be appreciated as the man who constantly provoked people to truly think.

This year would have marked Eliyahu Goldratt’s 70th birthday. Born in Israel, Mr. Goldratt was a physicist, a scientist, a doctor of philosophy and finally a management consultant known primarily for the Theory of Constraints.

Claims to Fame – What Did He Invent?

Theory of Constraints:

His Theory of Constraints says bottlenecks limit process performance

Eliyahu Goldratt was involved in a number of controversies in the business world, but his main contribution was his theory that all processes are constrained, and that sequentially removing bottlenecks allows businesses to achieve their goals.

He developed a Five-Step Method for dealing with constraints:

  1. Identify system constraints
  2. Decide how best to manage or exploit constraints
  3. Focus resources primarily to exploit constraints
  4. Work to “elevate” or break each constraint
  5. Repeat the process as each constraint is broken (return to Step 1)

He maintained that it was important to stay vigilant and continue to manage and identify new constraints. Mr. Goldratt discovered that human inertia could be it’s own bottleneck if an organization failed to repeat the process of identifying constraints. In this case, repetition is the key!

The Goal:

His book The Goal showed how to manage workplace constraints

This novel, which took place in a production plant, offered practical guidance on how to deal with process bottlenecks. Mr. Goldratt identified two basic categories of constraints:

  • Physical Constraints – i.e. the physical capacity of a machine
  • Non-Physical Constraints – i.e. a company policy

He discovered that intangibles such as the “we’ve always done it this way” mindset were often far more prevalent as constraints than machine capacity. In his work as a management consultant, he tried to help organizations recognize when constraints were of their own making. This focus was key to a company reaching it’s “goal” or financial target.

Little Known Facts:

  • He published the only novel about a production plant
  • He was a physicist with a PhD in philosophy

Eliyahu Goldratt at the Bahama Bistro:

Quote of the Day:

  • “Is Eliyahu Goldratt related to Bobcat Goldthwait?”

Putting Eliyahu Goldratt into Action:

  • “We removed the order bottleneck and then found one in food prep!”
  • “But we fixed that – and now we’ll hit our monthly sales goal!”

Eliyahu Goldratt was prolific and published many books surrounding his theories, but he was the first to turn management consulting into fiction. By creating relatable characters he made his theories both practical and helpful. Like other quality greats, Mr. Goldratt worked tirelessly to help others help themselves.

Happy Birthday Eliyahu Goldratt!

Elisabeth Swan

Elisabeth is a Managing Partner & Executive Advisor at GoLeanSixSigma.com. For over 25 years, she's helped leading organizations like Amazon, Charles Schwab and Starwood Hotels & Resorts build problem-solving muscles with Lean Six Sigma to achieve their goals.