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Critical Chain: Project Management and the Theory of Constraints
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Critical Chain: Project Management and the Theory of Constraints

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  2,762 ratings  ·  178 reviews
A young, untested team of problem solvers challenged with saving their company moves from board room to classroom in search of answers—and finds them in through lively, open discourse with their innovative professor. This gripping, fast-paced business novel does for project management what Eliyahu M. Goldratt’s other novels have done for production and marketing.
Audio CD, 450 pages
Published March 18th 2014 by HighBridge Company (first published September 30th 1997)
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Sergey Shishkin
Aug 11, 2015 rated it liked it
This book is really hard to evaluate for me. Probably due to my background in agile software development. I secretly hoped the Critical Chain method to provide logical proof to the agile community's intuitive findings. But it didn't.

Critical Chain covers a few important topics: fallacies of estimation, ways to create safety buffers, ways those buffers can fail, danger of multitasking, importance of optimizing for the lead time. It puts a firm nail into the coffin of more traditional project
Dec 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
As an Engineer I am used to reading highly structured texts where the content is clearly partitioned into numbered sections with a series of formulas and figures to present the theory. After reading the theory in each section, I’ll typically find a number of problems designed to test and enrich my understanding before proceeding to the next topic.

Eliyahu Goldratt, who is a physicist turned business consultant, chose to break from this conventional writing style by presenting his ideas in the
Nov 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I just love a good business novel. I read The Goal back in the late '90s and that is one book I reference to this day. So I was excited to see what Goldratt does in Critical Chain. I really enjoyed how he focused on both business and academia to solve the project management question that seemed to be popping up in industry. How to manage project management constraints is pretty straight forward when you only have one project but if multiple projects, things become exponentially more difficult. ...more
Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: z2016
Several of my engineering co-workers recommended Goldratt to me so I could understand their job better. While I'm still a bit confused about some of the things put forth in the book, I must say that this is easily the best format I have ever read for a business book. The book reads like a fiction novel, with characters, dialogue, and internal monologues. It's fabulous! And I've heard that Goldratt's other books are the same so I will definitely be reading those as well.
Kari Olfert
Jul 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm taking Project Mgmnt courses right now and I can assure you that this book is far more interesting than anything I've read on the subject. It reads like fiction, minus the sex and psychological struggles. Good overview of how to chart a successful project, sure you're missing all of the details for the procedures and techniques used and computer programs definitely simplify the procedure but the overview of delivering a project on time, is bang on..follow the critical path!
Jack Vinson
Apr 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been longer than I thought since I've read this. The story line is different from what I remember. And the way CCPM is developed in the book takes some interesting turns. It has me wondering about how to introduce things. Of course there are also things in here that aren't in use anymore.
Mindaugas Mozūras
Companies are so immersed in the mentality of saving money that they forget that the whole intention of a project is not to save money, but to make money.

I found it to be an interesting read, even if sometimes clumsily written. It tries to explain/teach about the Theory of Constraints (ToC) in a novel form, which explains the clumsiness.

ToC is also less relevant in the age of Agile/Lean. Companies focus on delivering the value faster and often to the customer. In this context, there's less need
Scott Fabel
I have been talking about Critical Chain in my project management classes for about five years now; however, I have only done so in broad strokes. In my current class, I was asked to expand on it just a bit more. I had never actually read Goldratt's book, but I knew enough about the theory to respond to the kinds of questions I was receiving. Even so, I thought that it was about time for me to read the original. To be honest, I didn't learn anything revolutionary in the book. It may have been a ...more
Scott Wozniak
Oct 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book for already competent project managers who want to go to the next level. It doesn't teach the basics at all. But it does have some crucial insights on how to go from mediocre to good.

It's a story of a business professor learning about project management as he teaches--and a good story. And the concepts are really potent--especially for very large projects. For small projects, not as much helpful.

The core idea: there are a few key constraints that the project hinges on. Those
Martin Smrz
Dec 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written, easy to understand book on interesting topic. Served with easiness that make you think about the topic. Recommended for anyone who deals with any form of project management.
Alex French
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, maybe it was because I didn't have any expectations when I started this book that I was so blown away. I didn't go to business school but I have a deep need to improve our production development cycles and a better framework on how to plan and manage our production team. Goldratt provides almost parable-like teaching that we have to analyze and extrapolate for our own purposes. The main thesis for this book in my opinion is that Project management is a blend of both Art and Science, that it ...more
Mihaela Giurescu
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: project managers
Eliyahu Goldratt was a very interesting man with a fascinating bio. The developer of the homonymous project management method - critical chain - Eliyahu whote this novel explaining in a unique way a very technical concept. The author was a firm believer of teaching the why behind phenomenons, not simple memorization. An this is what this novel is truly about; for a project manager already familiar with the terms usually employed in PM projects, "Critical chain" and the narrative insights into ...more
Hannah P
Critical Chain is a business novel that focuses on project management topics. I read this book as part of my independent project course for grad school. I've been learning a lot about project management through my new job and I do think that this book brings up a lot of valuable topics and tips for PM. There were parts of this book that I found really interesting and helpful. There were also parts that were way too "academic" for the subject matter. For example, to drive a point home, the author ...more
Luis Martinez
May 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started to read this book because I needed to get the principles of the critical chain into my daily duties at work for project management.
The story does not reach the proper level to catch my attention completely. Nonetheless, it serves as an acceptable example to explain the basics of the critical chain applied to project management.
This reading allowed me to get the main ideas of the procedure and with the convenient advisory from professionals plus the correct bibliography related to the
I read this for my project management class. I think The Goal was the better book because it was easier to visualize manufacturing processes and the characters were more developed. Most of Critical Chain feels like a presentation or a lecture, especially the section that is the characters attending the significant lecture that coincides with the book's title. Other scenes occur in a management class, so that's equally dull. Fortunately, Critical Chain is the shorter of the two books, so I was ...more
Chris H Koerber
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Are you responsible for project management? Calculating payback periods on proposed projects? Working to avoid delays (or further delays) on that project from h*ll?

Read this book. Author Goldratt does a great job explaining ways to prevent (or fix) the problems you’ll incur.

Disclosure: My field of expertise has nothing to do with the above-named field. Yet, Goldratt explained the process in such a way that even I understood it.

Highly recommended.
Matt Dubois
A great project management application (story) of Theory of Constraints. However, the story itself makes the book a bit dated.

Reading it again, it appears that very little progress has been made to adopt any of the TOC principles to PM. We still PM same as ever, with the same problems described. Maybe time for a reboot with an actual update addressing the reasons that we've never adopted a better method to PM.
Jan 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting, but less compelling than The Goal

The surrounding narrative is a lot thinner in this one, which for me meant that I skipped over things without getting as much out of them. It felt like the characters (there wasn't really a single central character as in The Goal) were even more just talking puppets. That said, the idea of using the critical path as the constraint, and then extending that concept to the critical chain, is an important insight. Worthwhile.
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're between a rock and a hard place with your projects and seek a quick remedy, look elsewhere. It's not a playbook by any means nor does it pretend being one.

It's a somewhat satirical novel about academia, business schools, corporations, projects. Fun to read for sure, and actually teaches quite adequately how to think about critical chains. To then dive into more specific literature with this perspective internalised.
Darius Daruvalla-riccio
The critical chain builds on Goldratt's previous work but applies it to the chronically underperforming field of project management.

It helps you understand exactly how the flow of a project runs into problems and how to fix it. This new approach gives you a way of improving the way you manage all the "projects" that you may face in life.
Niels Philbert
Less engaging than The Goal and It's Not Just Luck. More suited for project management - and maybe not the best in the field at that. It tackles the pitfalls of fluffy data points and ass-covering in the field of time/ressource estimates in a great way. The audiobook is not the same "cast style" which is a shame.
Rohan Shukla
It feels like I am deeply impressed by the real world style of concept explanation used by Eliyahu M. Goldratt. The book beautifully explains the concept of project management and various traps that usual managers fall into. I am looking forward to implement a few lessons at my workplace to see the impact. Worth a read, with this I have completed my third book from the same author.
Neha Prasad
Got to read this book as a part of Project Management Essentials course here in college. Coming to Goldratt, his previous book " The Goal" is much better and solves the purpose of teaching us the principles of management. The current one is very boring plot-wise and doesn't give any sort of clear explanation of the theories used.
Vinay Mehta
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another of Mr Goldratt management books which do not look like a drag and something which you want to keep by your side everyday in work office or business. Although the story isn't as interesting or critical sounding as was in Goal, the impact and learnings explained are equally useful. Another gem to appraise about.
Craig Fiebig
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay ... it's a novel but that authors wrote this book as an introduction to the value of project management and they succeeded for those who've not treated this area as a discipline. Great introduction.
Tolique Iurkin
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Strong start but boring in the end. However picked few concepts even though I am an Agile practitioner and hate waterfall. In Agile you could also happen to have a strong deadline. This book will help, but don't expect a clear recipe.

Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: management
An engaging read that enables the reader to understand and absorb this otherwise dry topic far more easily. Highly recommended for any production or systems engineering focused person as it will help you improve overall efficiency (if you follow the concepts in the book)
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A very interesting genre, had no idea it existed. My 4 stars are not truly the reflection on the book, but my inability to follow some details. Still, a great idea to introduce and explain such a boring business concept.
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great delivery of what is basically a project / program management class. Will look to read this at least once more so that I can do the homework too. I felt like part of the class (in a good way), and I'm sure that was his intention. It was fast paced but clear, and with several examples.
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Eliyahu M. Goldratt was an educator, author, physicist, philosopher and business leader, but first and foremost, he was a thinker who provoked others to think. Often characterized as unconventional, stimulating, and “a slayer of sacred cows,” he urged his audience to examine and reassess their business practices with a fresh, new vision.

Dr. Goldratt is best known as the father of the Theory of
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“Four: Too many wasteful ‘synchronization' meetings interrupted the actual work.” 1 likes
“Let's not forget that in the throughput world the linkages are as important as the links. Which means that if we decided to do something in one link, we have to examine the ramifications on the other links.” 0 likes
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