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I’m asked from time to time as to what books I would suggest for a Theory of Constraints – Critical Chain Project Management ‘newbie‘ to read and I think there is a real good one-two-three path for anyone just looking to get started with it.

 The Goal: A Process of Ongoing ImprovementThe Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eliyahu M. Goldratt
by Eliyahu M. Goldratt, Jeff Cox

This is the book that got me started on all this. Years ago I was working on a master bedroom bath project for a fellow who at the time was President of Union Carbide. Each day walking through his home to that master bath it would take me past his home office and I could see a book on a table by his reading chair. One day I say The Goal and it struck a cord because I had read an article about how companies were using it to change the way they work in Success magazine.

It’s written in the form of a novel so it’s a lot like listening to the real-life stories that we sometimes hear professional talking about at times. Certainly the problems the characters face are ones we often face too.

Personally I think just the content in Chapters 13 & 14 regarding “the hike” are worth the price of the book alone. That where the lesson of the effects of common cause statistical variation is so well taught.

A kool quote I’ve often seen regarding the book comes from I think Fortune Magazine – ” A survey of the reading habits of managers found that though they buy books by the likes of Tom Peters for display purposes, the one management book they have actually read from cover to cover is The Goal .”

The Goal also comes in an unabridged audio version too from  Audible/Amazon too that I listen to over again probably at least three times a year and also give to my people to learn from who aren’t as avid readers as I am.

Critical ChainCritical Chain: A Business Novel by Eliyahu M Goldratt
by Eliyahu M. Goldratt

Like The Goal this is written in the form of a novel too which helps make it such very interesting learning experience but it all about The Theory of Constraints as it applies to project management and in addition to introducing us to Critical Chain also introduces us to Drum-Buffer-Rope production technique.

Goldratt also does a good job with this book in explaining a lot of what goes wrong with traditional project management which is incredibly helpful in identifying what going on (or wrong) with our own projects and schedules by using characters that discuss debate and learn why their projects are often behind schedule and over budget.

Critical Chain Project Management, Third EditionCritical Chain Project Management by Lawrence P. Leach
by Lawrence P. Leach

This book takes what is introduced to all of us in Goldratt’s “Critical Chain” novel and puts it into a How-to format. At $69 and no Amazon discounts this book is not cheap at all at but it’s certainly worth every penny.

While The Goal and Critical Chain are where you get the basic understanding of just what t is different about TOC and CCPM this is the book where you go when you need some actual technical explanations of just how to go about applying CCPM.


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J. Jerrald Hayes
Primus Inter Pares at Paradigm Projects, Ltd.
I am an architectural woodworker and general contractor turned IT, Business and Project Management consultant, software developer wannabe senior division triathlete and ski racer, Yankee fan and founder of, 360 Difference, and now too.
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