Eliyahu M. Goldratt – The Goal

Why did I choose to read the book?

After being heavily referenced in the business novel The Phoenix Project, which I read before, I bumped it up my reading queue.

What is it about?

A business book, detailing the trials and tribulations of a production plant manager, fighting to keep his plant from closure. With help of one of his old college professors, he starts to change processes of his plant to reach the plants eponymous goal – to make money, by increasing throughput, cash-flow and reducing inventory. The book also details Goldratt’s Theory of Constrains, in which production capacity of a plant is governed by it’s constraints or bottlenecks. To maximise utilization of said bottlenecks (e.g. by decreasing production of excess inventory and focusing on products for order / direct sales) and producing with constraints in mind, flow (and throughput) can be increased.

How did I like the book?

It was a very enlightening read. The Theory of Constrains, just as detailed in The Phoenix Project, can be transferred to other processes and uses outside production environments. Knowing your constraints and bottlenecks, should greatly help maximising a departments throughput or output as a whole. Also, like with the phoenix project, the story is quite entertaining, even though the protagonist is in some parts unlikeable (at least to me) and there is a side-story about the protagonists marriage problems, which I felt to be badly written and distracting.

Gene Kim – The Phoenix Project

Why did I choose to read the book?

I really liked the description of this book. It is marketed as a business novel, of which, as far as I can tell, there are but a handful available.

What is it about?

It’s a novel about the newly appointed Head of IT trying and fixing IT processes in his department. By streamlining processes, via treating IT similar to  a manufacturing line and implementing new concepts, saves the company and it’s most important project, the titular Project Phoenix.

How did I like the book?

This is not a classic business book as it does not share the same inner-monologue style, inherent of most business books I have read, but has it’s themes and concepts woven into a story (and makes it a novel I think…), which – to my surprise – is exiting and very fun to read. And I cannot express what a joyous read it was, it may even become my favourite so far. It’s content was easily accessible, incredibly smart and I found the story astoundingly exiting, almost like a good thriller. The concepts and ideas presented were great and even if these were meant to be implemented in IT context, it may just as well be used in other business contexts and departments, if only in part. The only thing I didn’t like, it referenced and in some parts spoiled a similar business novel “The Goal”, which, much to my dismay, I haven’t read yet, but at the same time bumped it up my reading list, so much so, that it will be my next read. Overall, amazing book. Hope the authors will do something similar in the future, as it will be a day one buy for me.

Michael Lewis – Moneyball

Why did I choose to read the book?

First off, I know next to nothing about baseball. I played some in High-School, during my time in the US, but aside from some basic understanding of it’s rules, I know next to nothing. Why then did I choose to read this book? To my understanding, this book is not solely about baseball and I felt it outside my comfort zone, which made me bump it up my reading list, as I hate missing out on great stuff and knowledge simply because its outside my comfort zone.

What is it about?

The book provides an inside look on how the Oakland Athletics (short: Oakland As), a relatively poor US baseball club achieved success, while being one of the least funded clubs in pro baseball at the time. It describes how it’s general manager and former pro baseball player Billy Beane together with his assistant Paul DePodesta, used statistics and market inefficiencies to assemble the best possible team he could afford with what little money he had, making his club’s ratio of money spent vs. games won by far the highest in pro baseball at the time.

How did I like the book?

I liked the story of an underdog rising to prominence via outsmarting the competition. I also liked the authors approach of telling his findings in little personal stories of people involved. Most of the book and stories were very interesting, especially all parts covering the personal stories of Billy Beane and Paul DePodesta and how they proceeded in their endeavour. As stated at the very beginning, I know next to nothing about baseball. Which brings us to what I did not like about this book, it is written with a certain type of reader in mind: baseball fans. While most stories are interesting, the name dropping, baseball stats and insider intel presented mean nothing to me. Often times, names were dropped where I had the feeling, the author expects you to know who this person is and be in awe, which….I don’t and I’m not….. Had I been a baseball nut, I probably would have liked the book better, as it stands it was okay. Overall, when the book was about how David used his cunning to fool and outsmart Goliath, I loved it and it inspired me to question conventional wisdom and to search for inefficiencies to exploit. Whenever it was about baseball players, their stats and play styles, I was bored.