The Man Who Saved My Company
by Drew Greenblatt
Transformation comes in unexpected places. I met the father of the ‘Theory of Constraints’ just once, but his impact was profound.
Sometimes, you get saved in the most unexpected ways.
A few years after I’d bought a bagel basket factory in the late 1990s, I was in the gutter–beaten down by subsidized Chinese imports, substandard facilities and the squashing of the bagel business by the low-carb Atkins’ diet. I was searching for a way out, short of folding the business. Then, by serendipity, an engineer from Boeing approached with a request to make a wire basket to hold small aircraft components for an assembly process. It seemed an odd job, and we didn’t embrace it right away. The order required much greater precision than a bagel bin, but helped it lead us out of the business wilderness we’d found ourselves in.
Soon after, I ran into a business consultant at a conference–we were the only two folks from Maryland and we started chatting. I asked him about any useful books he’d recommend and he mentioned Eliyahu Goldratt’s. I listened.
Goldratt was a physicist and management theorist whose iconic management book, The Goal, had already sold 3 million copies by then. His fictionalized account about how a beleaguered plant manager succeeds by discovering "lean manufacturing" is required reading not just on factory floors but in hospitals, schools, halls of government and corporate board rooms. That book–and Goldratt himself–were transformative for my company.