Most Important Management Theory?

Browsing around, I come across KT Cat whining about Lean Six-Sigma, which leads me to the Theory of Constraints, and thence to a fictional-but-with-a-message novel called “The Goal”, written by a business consultant named Eliyahu Goldratt. I envisioned this as a sort of latter-day Ayn-Rand-inspired “novel with a message”, with equally dreary and stunted results. Imagine my surprise when I went to and found that this book had 275 reviews and a 4.5+ average review.

What the hell — I like investigating potentially awesome ideas, especially as a way to procrastinate and not do what I really should be working on.

First question: Is this an example of another bunch of brainwashed cultists grasping at legitimacy via the published word?

Well, in the “Is he legitimate?” column, I suppose I have to put that he has a website, a Ph.D., he created a widely-followed theory, and has a bunch of published books.

Unfortunately, wackos sometimes also have websites, Ph.D.s, have created theories, and have published a bunch of books. Result of initial analysis: inconclusive.

Second attempt: ye are known by the company you keep. There are lots of blogs talking about TOC, derivative books (even one dealing with software engineering!), but nobody whom I, a casual management-press reader, would immediately recognize. Results: inconclusive. However, I don’t get the whiff of pee-stained messianism I usually associate with whackjob theories. Not at all, in fact, which is a good sign.

I guess I’ll just have to buy the book and report back.

In the interim, my personal management mega-theory: The Theory of Bullshit. This theory states:

90% of the stuff that prevents your organization from achieving wild success is due to personal, individual bullshit that everybody believes is real, but which is not. Eliminate the bullshit by clear thinking and eliminate those things that prevent your success.

What do you think?


5 Responses to “Most Important Management Theory?”

  1. 1 Jack Vinson November 20, 2007 at 8:18 pm

    Thanks for the link. There are certainly some aspects of ToC that feel cultish. But there are enough people around who are also attempting to critically examine the value of TOC / test its limits / grow its applicability, so I think there is some chance it will pass your test.

    Have fun with the book.

  2. 2 K T Cat November 21, 2007 at 5:49 am

    Thanks for the link! Come by and read my whining any time. (Actually, cats don’t whine. Dogs whine. Cats meow plaintively.)

  3. 3 uf November 27, 2007 at 10:23 am

    Have you checked out John Rickett’s Reaching the Goal – it discusses theory of constaints for a services organization. Should be a nice complement to Goldratt’s books.

  4. 4 Anthony Stevens November 27, 2007 at 10:29 am

    @uf – I haven’t yet, but I will. I ordered “The Goal”, “It’s Not Luck”, and “Critical Chain” from and they should arrive any day now.

  1. 1 READ THIS BOOK: Eliyahu Goldratt’s “The Goal” « The Pursuit of a Life Trackback on December 7, 2007 at 11:16 am

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