The Goal is a book about management. It was originally written in the ’80s, I think intended to change how western manufacturing thought about managing manufacturing processes – and it certainly has.
It’s written as a novel. It’s actually well written in a thriller style – though the problems and context are all about a plant manager attempting to balance and save his plant, career, family, etc. This makes it really easy to read, while walking you through a lot of interesting ideas. You might find it a bit slow or strange if you’re used to more modern dry punchy books, but it’s a great starter to get you interested if you’ve not thought much about it before.
In particular, I found two parts of it very interesting, as related to software development.
- Most of the book is about understanding what’s important in a manufacturing process and thinking about pulling work through the plant rather than pushing it. While the understanding the book gives doesn’t directly relate to sofware development, it’s the same basic thinking that supplies Kanban and it’s a really good intro to why Kanban and similar methodologies are useful.
- The last section of the book looks to wider management and more abstract management problems and ways of dealing with them. These aren’t very different between managing software development and anything else.
I also recommend it as an easy starter into reading books that cover more than just raw technical information!