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Part I -- Executive Summary
The problem of production has challenged human beings since they first evolved.
hunters and gatherers had to do elementary planning to evaluate local resources and
ration their prizes to assure they met the basic needs of the tribe.
these basic commodities from nature -- wild game, fruits, nuts, roots, stems, berries, and
so forth -- constituted only the first step of the tribal production process.
division of labor within the tribe created the equivalent of an assembly line on the micro
scale with hunters, gatherers, preparers, tribal elders, caretakers, medicinal specialists,
Over the millennia, this division of labor continued to specialize and to multiply the
range of possible productive occupations.
This trend exploded with the advent of new
individual freedoms after the American Revolution.
The resulting Industrial Revolution
greatly swelled the diversity, complexity, and specialization of knowledge needed in the
rapidly modernizing society.
It resulted in the modern fields of engineering and
especially industrial engineering, the study of systems that keep industries humming.
Because of their long history of storytelling, humans still show a strong preference for
learning through dramatic interpretation.
Young people learn moral lessons like the just
rewards of industry through stories such as "The Little Red Hen."
Such fictional tales of
virtue tend not to make their way so much to older generations.
A few exceptions exist in
novels such as
by Ayn Rand, a story which illustrates the role of the mind
in man's life.
A more recent exception comes in
by Eliyahu Goldratt, a story
which illustrates his "Theory of Constraints" dramatically.
Goldratt, a consultant by profession, considers himself a
philosopher in his own right
His frustrations in the early 1980s in attempting to convey his new theory of production
to his clients led him to write
with the help of professional writer Jeff Cox.
Goldratt seeks to show, in the form of a novel, how commonly held yet faulty
assumptions about ideal production plant behavior, such as using all processing resources
to capacity, neglect integrated thinking at a systems level and lead to net profits far short
To borrow the words of Ayn Rand, Goldratt tells the reader, in effect:
"Check your premises."
By the end of the tale, protagonists and readers alike have
profitably done just that.
Goldratt cleverly tells the story from a first person point of view of its main protagonist,