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The Goal (Goldratt E M)

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8:30 A.M. So subtracting the hour we took for lunch, that means we've covered five miles... in five hours?

We aren't moving at two miles per hour. We are moving at the rate of one mile per hour. So with five hours to go...

It's going to be DARK by the time we get there.

And Herbie is standing here next to me delaying the throughput of the entire troop.

"Okay, let's go! Let's go!" I tell him.

"All right! All right!" says Herbie, jumping.

What am I going to do?

Rogo, (I'm telling myself in my head), you loser! You can't even manage a troop of Boy Scouts! Up front, you've got some kid who wants to set a speed record, and here you are stuck behind Fat Herbie, the slowest kid in the woods. After an hour, the kid in front-if he's really moving at three miles per hour-is going to be two miles ahead. Which means you're going to have to run two miles to catch up with him.

If this were my plant, Peach wouldn't even give me three months. I'd already be on the street by now. The demand was for us to cover ten miles in five hours, and we've only done half of that. Inventory is racing out of sight. The carrying costs on that inventory would be rising. We'd be ruining the company.

But there really isn't much I can do about Herbie. Maybe I could put him someplace else in the line, but he's not going to move any faster. So it wouldn't make any difference.

Or would it?


The boys relay the call up to the front of the column.


Fifteen minutes later, the troop is standing in condensed line. I find that Andy is the one who usurped the role of leader. I remind them all to stay in exactly the same place they had when we were walking.

"Okay," I say. "Everybody join hands."

They all look at each other.

"Come on! Just do it!" I tell them. "And don't let go."

Then I take Herbie by the hand and, as if I'm dragging a chain, I go up the trail, snaking past the entire line. Hand in hand, the rest of the troop follows. I pass Andy and keep walking.


And when I'm twice the distance of the line-up, I stop. What I've done is turn the entire troop around so that the boys have exactly the opposite order they had before.

"Now listen up!" I say. "This is the order you're going to stay in until we reach where we're going. Understood? Nobody passes anybody. Everybody just tries to keep up with the person in front of him. Herbie will lead."

Herbie looks shocked and amazed. "Me?"

Everyone else looks aghast too.

"You want him to lead?" asks Andy.

"But he's the slowest one!" says another kid.

And I say, "The idea of this hike is not to see who can get there the fastest. The idea is to get there together. We're not a bunch of individuals out here. We're a team. And the team does not arrive in camp until all of us arrive in camp."

So we start off again. And it works. No kidding. Everybody stays together behind Herbie. I've gone to the back of the line so I can keep tabs, and I keep waiting for the gaps to appear, but they don't. In the middle of the line I see someone pause to adjust his pack straps. But as soon as he starts again, we all walk just a little faster and we're caught up. Nobody's out of breath. What a difference!

Of course, it isn't long before the fast kids in the back of the line start their grumbling.

"Hey, Herpes!" yells one of them. "I'm going to sleep back here. Can't you speed it up a little?"

"He's doing the best he can," says the kid behind Herbie, "so lay off him!"

"Mr. Rogo, can't we put somebody faster up front?" asks a kid ahead of me.

"Listen, if you guys want to go faster, then you have to figure out a way to let Herbie go faster," I tell them.

It gets quiet for a few minutes.

Then one of the kids in the rear says, "Hey, Herbie, what have you got in your pack?"

"None of your business!" says Herbie.

But I say, "Okay, let's hold up for a minute."

Herbie stops and turns around. I tell him to come to the back of the line and take off his pack. As he does, I take the pack from him-and nearly drop it.


"Herbie, this thing weighs a ton," I say. "What have you got in here?"

"Nothing much," says Herbie.

I open it up and reach in. Out comes a six-pack of soda. Next are some cans of spaghetti. Then come a box of candy bars, a jar of pickles, and two cans of tuna fish. Beneath a rain coat and rubber boots and a bag of tent stakes, I pull out a large iron skillet. And off to the side is an army-surplus collapsible steel shovel.

"Herbie, why did you ever decide to bring all this along?" I ask.

He looks abashed. "We're supposed to be prepared, you know."

"Okay, let's divide this stuff up," I say.

"I can carry it!" Herbie insists.

"Herbie, look, you've done a great job of lugging this stuff so far. But we have to make you able to move faster," I say. "If we take some of the load off you, you'll be able to do a better job at the front of the line."

Herbie finally seems to understand. Andy takes the iron skil- let, and a few of the others pick up a couple of the items I've pulled out of the pack. I take most of it and put it into my own pack, because I'm the biggest. Herbie goes back to the head of the line.

Again we start walking. But this time, Herbie can really move. Relieved of most of the weight in his pack, it's as if he's walking on air. We're flying now, doing twice the speed as a troop that we did before. And we still stay together. Inventory is down. Throughput is up.

Devil's Gulch is lovely in the late afternoon sun. Down in what appears to be the gulch, the Rampage River goes creaming past boulders and outcroppings of rock. Golden rays of sunlight shift through the trees. Birds are tweeting. And off in the distance is the unmistakable melody of high-speed automobile traffic.

"Look!" shouts Andy as he stands atop the promontory, "There's a shopping center out there!"

"Does it have a Burger King?" asks Herbie.

Dave complains, "Hey, this isn't The Wilderness."

"They just don't make wildernesses the way they used to," I


tell him. "Look, we'll have to settle for what we've got. Let's make camp."

The time is now five o'clock. This means that after relieving Herbie of his pack, we covered about four miles in two hours. Herbie was the key to controlling the entire troop.

Tents are erected. A spaghetti dinner is prepared by Dave and Evan. Feeling somewhat guilty because I set up the rules that drove them into their servitude, I give them a hand with cleaning up afterwards.

Dave and I share the same tent that night. We're lying inside it, both of us tired. Dave is quiet for a while. Then he speaks up.

He says, "You know, Dad, I was really proud of you today."

"You were? How come?"

"The way you figured out what was going on and kept every- one together, and put Herbie in front-we'd probably have been on that trail forever if it hadn't been for you," he says. "None of the other guys' parents took any responsibility for anything. But you did."

"Thanks," I tell him. "Actually, I learned a lot of things to- day."

"You did?"

"Yeah, stuff that I think is going to help me straighten out the plant," I say.

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