Theory of Constraints

Books that are directly on the topic of Theory of Constraints.

Critical Chain

Critical Chain is the original business novel about Critical Chain Project Management, written by Eli Goldratt.  It does a good job of building up the case for CCPM and describing the impact this new way of thinking can have.

P3CG recommendation:We recommend Critical Chain for anyone who is getting into Theory of Constraints for project management.


The Goal

The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eli Goldratt and Jeff Cox is the classic business novel that started the Theory of Constraints movement.

P3CG recommendation: The Goal captures the essence of TOC, and we recommend it for anyone who is new to the discipline.


The Haystack Syndrome

The Haystack Syndrome: Sifting Information Out of the Data Ocean by Eli Goldratt is a very dense read that plays on the “find a needle in a haystack” idea.  There is a particularly interesting Goldratt quote that comes out of this book:  Information is the answer to the  question asked.

P3CG recommendation: We only recommend this book for people who are deeply curious about Theory of Constraints and its applications.


Isn’t It Obvious

Isn’t It Obvious? is a short story by Eli Goldratt that embeds both the implementation of the Distribution Solution for retail with discussion of the “obvious” nature of the solution to any problem that seems to evade most people.  It is written to be easily understood and reads very fast.

P3CG recommendation: We recommend Isn’t It Obvious for anyone who works in retail distribution or wishes to see the Distribution solution in operation.


It’s Not Luck

It’s Not Luck is the follow-up story to The Goal.  Now Alex Rogo is running a larger part of the business and he needs to develop a marketing and sales strategy that makes the best use of their manufacturing capacity.

P3CG recommendation: We  highly recommend this book for people in Alex’s position.


The Logical Thinking Process

The Logical Thinking Process: A Systems Approach to Complex Problem Solving by Bill Dettmer describes the TOC Thinking Processes as a single, sweeping entity to be used together.  Note that the title calls it the logical thinking process – singular.  This is a thorough treatment of the Thinking Processes, showing how they can all connect together.  One could also use this book as a reference on how to approach any one of the thinking processes alone too.

P3CG recommendation: We recommend this for anyone who wants to learn more about the Theory of Constraints Thinking Processes – to learn how to apply this style of logical thinking to any problem.


Management Dilemmas

Management Dilemmas: The Theory of Constraints Approach to Problem Identification and Solutions by Eli Schragenheim.

P3CG recommendation: This book is an excellent resource for those who have a basic understanding of TOC and are looking to improve on their skills in applying the concepts in a variety of different environments.


Manufacturing at Warp Speed

Manufacturing at Warp Speed: Optimizing Supply Chain Financial Performance by Eli Schragenheim and Bill Dettmer is an earlier version of their work that has been updated in Supply Chain Management at Warp Speed.

P3CG recommendation: We recommend the newer book, as it contains updated content and some new concepts on how to use Theory of Constraints in manufacturing and the supply chain.


Necessary But Not Sufficient

Necessary But Not Sufficient is another business novel by Goldratt, Eli Schragenheim, and Carol A Ptak.  This time the story describes the application of Theory of Constraints thinking into the world of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and other large business software companies.  What is it these technologies should do for business?

P3CG recommendation: This is not a beginners’ book for learning TOC, but it is a great description of how TOC thinking should become part of any major business decisions.


Production the TOC Way

Production the TOC Way with Simulator by Eli Goldratt is a workbook that comes with a production simulator.  The workbook walks through a number of simulations that take the student from “traditional” operations through the Five Focusing Steps applied in a production scenario.

P3CG recommendation: This workbook is for students of TOC who wish to do self-learning or in groups, directed by an expert.


The Race

The Race by Eli Goldratt and Bob Fox is a set of slides and exercises for someone new to Theory of Constraints for manufacturing.

P3CG recommendation: While this is not a book to be read as such, it is a useful workbook for those learning about TOC in manufacturing.


Reaching the Goal

Reaching The Goal: How Managers Improve a Services Business Using Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints by John Ricketts, who comes out of IBM.  The book discusses how to apply TOC ideas of project management and supply chain management into services businesses where the concern is around ensuring that there are enough people to serve customers at the levels they expect.  It’s an advanced TOC book in that the application area is somewhat non-traditional.

P3CG recommendation: We recommend Reaching the Goal for people who are delivering services and those who are learning more and more about how TOC can apply in various environments.


Thinking for a Change

Thinking for a Change: Putting the TOC Thinking Processes to Use by Lisa Scheinkopf is a good starting points for learning the TOC “thinking processes.”  The best starting point is to learn the basics and begin applying them in your situation.  This book treats each of the thinking processes in isolation, where Dettmer’s The Logical Thinking Process treats them a continuous process.  We find that practice with the thinking processes makes the most sense.

P3CG recommendation: We recommend this for anyone who wants to learn more about the Theory of Constraints Thinking Processes.


Throughput Accounting

Throughput Accounting by Thomas Corbett describes how to make decisions and measure improvements from the Theory of Constraints mindset.

P3CG recommendation: Throughput Accounting is an essential resource for those who wish to better understand how to utilize throughput accounting to make better day to day decisions on truly improving profitability.