Critical chain (book review)

Critical Chain
Eliyahu M. Goldratt
The North River Press, 1997

My first book review was about The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt. This book is all about the Theory ot Constraints (TOC). Today, I'll review Critical Chain in which Goldratt applies his TOC to project management.

The book is no dull business book. The author chose to explain his idea's in a novel. It's about an associated professor teaching on a business school. Along with a class of MBA students, he - like Socrates did in the early days - seeks for answers to problems occuring during projects.

They all experienced projects running late and/or finishing at additional costs. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Together, they examine causes. They find out, it's about the way of planning, the student syndrome, Parkinson's law, window dressing and multitasking.

In stead of planning a buffer at each activity, Goldratt suggests using slack only at the end of the project. As this buffer is less than the sum of all slack in traditional schedules, the planned run time is reduced by about 25% - all other things being equal. Furhermore, he proposes some buffers before tasks on the critical path. Hereby, the risc of delays decreases.

Like The Goal, this book is easy to read. The story is fascinating so you want to read the outcome. Well done! Except the plot is attractive, the lessons are useful. Many companies accomplish projects these days and - we have to admitt it - not all of them are successful. So here we get some valuable advice.

Reading Critical Chain during the early 2000's, I was excited about Goldratt's idea's. Since then, I spoke many people about this topic. Despite their interest, none of them practised the TOC in project management. Why is that? Is the TOC not applicable to projects? Is it a well kept secret nobody knows? Do you apply these principles?

Good luck in your projects!

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