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Isn’t It Obvious? By Eliyahu Goldratt

The full title of the book written by Eliyahu Goldratt and with Ilan Eshkoli and Joe Brownleer is

Isn’t It Obvious?: A Business Novel on Retailing Using the Theory of Constraints“.

In my review at Amazon.co.uk, I rated the book at the FOUR Stars level which means I think it is good to very good.

Here is what I wrote.

TOC in a retail setting with wider lessons

This is another business novel explaining the ideas behind the Theory Of Constraints. To make it a snappier read, Eli Goldratt worked with screenwriters who were well used to regularly revising their work.

It is based on a retail business in home textiles in the US. I can’t remember the exact numbers but there are about 100 stores organised into about 10 regions.

This time there isn’t a mysterious Jonah. The hero is a store manager, albeit married to the daughter of the owner and CEO. All stores hold very large stocks but still suffer from high stock-outs that hold back sales.

He is forced to change when his large stockroom is flooded and he has to hold stock at the regional centre and receive daily deliveries of replacement stock. As quantities requested are small, the region uses its remaindered stock to fill in stock-outs. Performance shoots up.

Although there is resistance, this new approach is gradually rolled out across the region and then to the other regions. This is because they realise that the logic of holding most of the stock close to the customers is wrong. At the store level is where demand fluctuations are most extreme but these are reduced at the regional level and further reduced at the company level.

There is a low cost transcript of an interview with Eli Goldratt on Amazon (Six Lessons: My Sixty-Minute Masterclass with Eli Goldratt) that highlights some of the more subtle learning lessons. It is well worth your time to read it if you’re thinking of reading this book.

The book doesn’t mention the Theory Of Constraints and nor does it use the thinking processes directly. You therefore don’t need an understanding of TOC to understand the main lessons. However I don’t think it packs the same impact as The Goal did for manufacturers.

It is available to buy from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.


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