What is The Goal?

Posted by Marcus Hammarberg on December 22, 2014
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I’ve been re-reading The Goal. For the fourth time. And I still got that buzz from it. It’s such a great book - I recommend it to anyone interested in business and becoming more effective.

The book of course got me thinking waaay to big thoughts for my small head and I went all gaga over it and tried to convince people around me that we need to rethink why we are here etc.

This time however I dared to question the book too. I love it. So much that I think it will take me question it a little bit.

Because there’s one thing in the book that I have a little problem with. And I cannot wrap my head around it. It’s … The Goal. In the book our hero, Alex Rogo, comes to the realization that The Goal for his plant and the entire organization is to “Make money”.

Sure enough on the Wikipedia page for the book we read;

For most businesses, the goal itself is to make money

There’s more just below and we’ll get to that, but bear with me for a while.

On one hand

Now, I feel a bit uneasy with that… in one way and not in another.

Make money.

Really?! That’s all we do? What about the people in the company then? What about “make a difference in society”? What about all the big words we use in mission and vision statements?

Are they just lies or nifty rephrasings of The Goal?

Again on the wikipedia (the book doesn’t say much about this) it says:

Before the goal itself can be reached, necessary conditions must first be met. These typically include safety, quality, legal obligations, etc.

So… all of those things are really just things we need to handle… but they are not the reason we are here.

I get a little bit of a foul taste in my mouth.

On the other hand

But… if the company doesn’t make money it will eventually die and seize to exists. If we only cared about people we’d not be around to care for our people for very long. Unless some good persons pay us money to keep shoveling money into the organization to run it without making money.

The Wikipedia page talks about this too

However, for many organizations and non-profit businesses, making money is a necessary condition for pursuing the goal.

Ok - so it’s not the same for them… but for all other companies it’s “Make money”?

Well, if the last quote was about non-profits that would make the other companies “profit business” then. And if you’re in a “profit business” and don’t make money… what’s the use really?

Where does this leave us?

Now, who’d want to be in such a company. “Son - you’re main objective here is to MAKE MONEY!”. That doesn’t sound like any of the companies I’ve worked for (4) and consulted for (20-30 ca) that all been in the “profit business” category.

As a westerner I’m inclined to ask “What about me? What about my needs?”. And now that I have a little Asian culture in me: “What about us? Who looks after the group, guys? Will you not just take advantage of us and then replace us if we complain?”.

Summary

I cannot get this straight. I’m sure I’m missing something or simply haven’t read enough of Mr Goldratts thinking. In my mind the Theory Of Constraints thinking, five focusing steps could and SHOULD be applied to pursue any goal. It’s really just taking a good look at your system / organization and see what is not contributing to The Goal. I like that. A lot.

But … does The Goal really have to be “Make money”?

And if not … what is The Goal?



Published by Marcus Hammarberg on Last updated