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SCDigest Expert Insight: Supply Chain by Design

About the Author

Dr. Michael Watson, one of the industry’s foremost experts on supply chain network design and advanced analytics, is a columnist and subject matter expert (SME) for Supply Chain Digest.

Dr. Watson, of Northwestern University, was the lead author of the just released book Supply Chain Network Design, co-authored with Sara Lewis, Peter Cacioppi, and Jay Jayaraman, all of IBM. (See Supply Chain Network Design – the Book.)

Prior to his current role at Northwestern, Watson was a key manager in IBM's network optimization group. In addition to his roles at IBM and now at Northwestern, Watson is director of The Optimization and Analytics Group.

By Dr. Michael Watson

March 17, 2015

Eli Goldratt's Book "The Goal" is on Jeff Bezos (Amazon) Reading List

The Goal has Held up Very Well to Test of Time, so if you Haven’t Read it, it is Worth a Read

Dr. Watson Says:

...If it is required reading for Amazon executives, I will keep in my class...
What Do You Say?

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I’ve been using the book The Goal (originally published in 1984) in my graduate Operations Excellence class at Northwestern for many years.  I’ve often worry that the book will become outdated—this was before email and voicemail and when it was presumably OK to light up a cigar in the middle of meeting. 

I was delighted when I ran across an article stating that Jeff Bezos of Amazon listed this book as one of three critical books his executive managers should read.  If it is required reading for Amazon executives, I will keep in my class.

The feedback from my class is overwhelmingly positive—the students really like the book.  Most of the students in this class are also working full time, and many of them say that the book relates directly to the what they do in their jobs.

Previous Columns by Dr. Watson

The Three Use Cases for Data Scientists

Learn Python, PuLP, Jupyter Notebooks, and Network Design

EOQ Model and the Hidden Costs of Fixed Costs

CSCMP Edge - Nike Quote: "It is All an Art Project Until you Get it on Someone's Feet"

Supply Chain by Design: Why Business Leaders should think of AI as an Umbrella Term


Throughout the years, I’ve also ran into various business leaders who have shared their views of how the book helped them.

For example, a CEO of a $1.4B CPG manufacturing company said that the book made him realize that many small changes could have significant benefit. 

A CIO of a $500M CPG company said that he used the book to help teach his team about variaibility and its negative impact.

A student in a recent class who worked at a privately held manufacturig company mentioned that the book showed him the importance of thinking like the owner of the company when making a decision—and not just thinking about your department. 

All three of these lessons are valuable lessons for a supply chain manager.  And, you will likely find your own lessons you can apply from the book.  The book is an easy read and written in the form of a novel—you will find it well worth your time.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve read The Goal, I’d love to hear your feedback.  What was your biggest take-away from the book and how have you used it to help your supply chain?


Let me know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.

Recent Feedback

"The Goal" is ok, but I think the best OM book ever written is "Factory Physics." Just my $.02. Also, there's a connection to NU as I believe Wallace Hopp, one of the coauthors taught there.

Scot Johnson
Business Transformation Analyst
U.S. Army
Mar, 20 2015

I have always found that the basic principles laid out in the "The Goal" are fundamentally sound for any business system.  This holds true for factory floor/shop level flows as well as supply chains.  While I am in agreement with Mr. Scot Johnson concerning his observation on the book "Factory Physics", I find it better to start with the simple basics first.   Once these are understood, then one is better equipped to grasp the more advanced content.       

Dave Morrow
Logistics Specialist
US Air Force
Apr, 01 2015

Of Eli's four books, The Haystack Syndrome anticipates and challenges today's love affair with Big Data. Goldratt's taught a methodology to produce continuous improvement through rigorous focus on the constraints in a system. The book is well worth a read by professionals confronted with complex systems.

Harvey Silverberg
Hillcrest Consulting Associates
Apr, 17 2015