While climbing a mountain like Everest is never easy, it is less treacherous when the group consists of expert, experienced climbers. In 1996, however, many of the people in the three groups were inexperienced climbers who had anywhere between $10,000 to $65,000 to ascend Everest. The problem was that these people did not know what to do in an emergency and they relied on their leaders for guidance. Had the members all been more experienced, they would have been better equipped to sense the oncoming storm and less inclined to take risks because they knew the possible outcomes and knew theyd have other chances to attempt a summit.
Having a narrow, specific goal (reaching the top of Everest), not heeding the risk of a storm, and not working together more to anticipate bottlenecks at specific points or other problems on the trail were the three main factors that led to the tragedy in 1996. Reading the Goal closely, one can see parallel mistakes made by UniCo and Rogo that led to the near demise of Rogos plant. In the Goal, Jonahs points out to his former student when they bump into each other at an airport that UniCos use of robotics, while accomplishing a narrowly defined goal of improving efficiency in one section of the plant, failed to meet what should have been the companys wider goal of making money. Goldratt also describes how Rogo discovered bottlenecks as specific parts of production that were impeding the companys goals and, finally, how the company relied too heavily on direction from leaders. It was not until Rogo began soliciting information from a small group of knowledgeable colleagues that he came up with a feasible plan to save the plant.
In both books the characters are faced with similar challenges: meet their customers needs using the fewest resources to reap the highest possible profit.
The goal was simple, but the path to that goal was obstructed by numerous variables including contradictory objectives of key players, a lack of foresight to anticipate and avoid problems, and the desire of the leaders to be in charge and not heed the advice of others. When readers take the lessons learned from these books and apply them to business or any other organization, they can anticipate a better chance at success. The basic concepts are to firstly develop a goal that creates the most direct path to success. In the case of most businesses, it is to increase throughput while decreasing inventory and operational expenses. At the same time, the goal should not be too narrow, as was the case in the Climb. Had the leaders of the expedition broadened the goal of getting to the top of Mount Everest, say, offer free second chances to summit Everest to anyone willing to descend early or advertise the trips as chances to climb Everest rather than “guaranteeing” trips to the summit with slogans like “100-percent success, as Rob Hall did for his company, then they could have avoided the bottlenecks that formed at specific parts of the trail.
Secondly, its crucial to anticipate problems and prepare for them rather than ignore them or, worse, deny the possibility. and, finally, good businesses rely heavily on their human capital, their employees, for their buy-in and opinions to guide major decisions and not leave them to one or two leaders. Anyone considering starting a company or entering into the working world would benefit from reading these books and heeding their advice as its all common sense and practical knowledge.
Boukreev, Anatoli, DeWalt, Weston. G. The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest. New York: St. Martins Press, 1997. Print
Goldratt, Eliyahu, M. The Goal: A Process of Ongoing.