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Critical Chain

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  3,194 ratings  ·  204 reviews
A business novel focusing on project management. The novel aims to provoke readers to examine and reassess their business practices and transform the thinking and actions of managers.
Paperback, 246 pages
Published December 10th 2002 by North River Press (first published September 30th 1997)
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Alistair MacDonald An efficient system moves at the speed of it's slowest node. A chaotic system moves at many speeds, creating waste at the intersections. Core principl…moreAn efficient system moves at the speed of it's slowest node. A chaotic system moves at many speeds, creating waste at the intersections. Core principle: "Delays accumulate and advances do not". Formulate the chain of critical tasks needed to complete the project, make that chain the absolute priority. Instead of time-boxing all tasks individually, time-box the critical chain as a whole, reducing the waste of over-reporting, and making sure that what is necessary, is always ready.(less)

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Sergey Shishkin
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 mana
Dec 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 for
Nov 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. I ...more
Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Kari Olfert
Jul 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
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! ...more
Jack Vinson
Apr 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Jan 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: business-novel
Key points that I learned (or reviewed) from this book:

4 Steps of Theory of Constraints (TOC)

Identify the constraint

Exploit “ “ (i.e. use it to full capacity)

Subordinate the rest of the system

Elevate (i.e. if possible, relieve the constraint)

Typical Failure of Classic Project Management

p152 “1. We are accustomed to believing that the only way to protect the whole is through protecting the completion date of each step.

As a result,

2. We pad each step with a lot of safety time.

3. We are suffering
Mindaugas Mozūras
Mar 27, 2019 rated it liked it
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
Jun 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoy business books that teaches concepts in the form of story-telling.
Scott Fabel
Oct 02, 2012 rated it liked it
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
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 nee
Alex French
Nov 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Martin Smrz
Dec 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.
Thushara Ravindra
Nov 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
different views on management. time, tech and peoples all behaviors and some important concepts introduced here.
Jul 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, management
This is a cheesy novel but a nice way to explain the Critial Chain Project Management, which is the transposition of the Theory of Constraints method from manufacturing to project management.

The result is interesting because it's not obvious at all how to translate from the flow of raw materials and pieces going throw a factory to a project that is a process with a finite duration and in which controlling times and costs are paramount.

However, the resulting method, despite being ingenuous seems
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 14, 2021 added it
I am a big fan of Eliyahu Goldratt's work.

I was introduced to his writing in the Process Fundamentals course, which I did two summers back, through his seminal work 'The Goal'.

'The Goal' is a must read for business professionals working in Production, Process Improvement, Operations, and Supply Chain Management.

Having enjoyed his writing style so much, I started reading his other business novel 'Critical Chain' and much like 'The Goal' it is refreshing and stimulating in all the wonderful ways!

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
Mihaela Giurescu
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 TO ...more
Hannah P
Sep 10, 2019 rated it liked it
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
Jun 07, 2021 rated it liked it
Critical Chain was required reading for my Project Management course, so I wasn't expecting very much from it. I was surprised by how the characters' personal lives kept me invested in the "business" aspects of the novel. I disliked the lecture-style exposition, but I did enjoy laughing at the business school drama, the protagonist's quest to get tenure, and the ridiculous dialogue. So as far as required reading goes, at least this was entertaining. But as a novel? A complete pass. The character ...more
May 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
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 ab ...more
Uģis Balmaks
May 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
What this book is about - managing large projects - is not that interesting to me. For my interest level, I would’ve been better off with sticking to having read “The Goal” by the same author and watching a quick youtube video on critical chain project management.

And the side stories were way too large a part of the book. The meat of the book starts only 1/3 in (annoying) and key dialogues that helped understand the main idea of the book were sprinkled with endless remarks about the emotional st
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.
Matt Dubois
Apr 19, 2018 rated it liked it
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.
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
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.
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It’s not the Goal

The Goal really changed the way I think about scheduling and planning at work. And it’s a fun read. Critical Chain isn’t up to that standard: the narrator character is a sexist jerk, the personalities of the supporting characters jump all over the place, and the key elements—the critical chain ideas used to manage contention for shared resources in a multi-project environment—come in only the last pages of the book.
Brent Knipfer
A definitive story telling model for a technical topic. Mind changing book on project management. This books turns project management on it's head taking a supply chain logistics view and using inventory optimization methods. Manage the known extra time built into every estimate for project steps as one unit. Also manage risks only by watching this time and then build risk or mitigations only as needed. ...more
Niels Philbert
Oct 08, 2018 rated it liked it
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. ...more
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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 Con

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