53 pages 1 hour read

Eliyahu M. Goldratt

The Goal

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1984

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Chapters 4-7

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 4 Summary

Alex remembers when he received the cigar he finds in his pocket. Two weeks earlier, he was travelling to Chicago for a corporate meeting when he ran into Jonah, an old professor of his, in the airport lounge. Jonah is a physicist by training, but now works “in the science of organizations” (29). He and Alex begin to talk about the use of robots at Alex’s plant. Though Alex insists that robots have increased the plant’s efficiency, Jonah is skeptical. He correctly guesses that most of the plant’s orders are shipped late and that its inventories are too high. Alex walks Jonah to his plane, continuing to pick his brain about why his plant is so inefficient. Jonah remarks that if Alex were to consider what it truly means to be efficient, his plant would benefit. He asks Alex what it means to be productive and agrees with Alex’s answer that it means “accomplishing something” (31), but only “in terms of goals” (31). “‘Productivity is meaningless unless you know what your goal is’” (32), Jonah tells Alex, and encourages him to identify the goal of his plant. Alex guesses greater efficiency, to produce products, and power, but Jonah dismisses all of these.