Your projects are running late despite all the effort you put into them? "Critical chain" by Eliyahu M. Goldratt may give the answer you strive for.

What it is all about

The plot of the book is around a professor in the University who teaches several MBA disciplines. He dreams about getting a tenure - a permanent place in the University. However his dream is under a risk: number of students for MBA programs declines in general. Head of University is challenging Richard to find more students to buy the same program. Richards starts teaching a new group of students at the same time.

Richard soon discovers with the help of his studenrs, that the majority of the projects in different industries are missing deadlines in their projects. Industries like software development, building construction or electrical engineering, all suffer in the same manner. Richard is giving lectures to his students and interacting with other professors. Eventually he is coming up with a new idea of how managers should lead their projects to meet all the deadlines. Not surprisingly, the idea is based on 3 pillars: the Theory of Constraints, the Parkinson's law and aligning the project schedule around the bottleneck(a constraint).

What I liked and what not

I read the book in just 4 evenings: it was easy to read, the plot developed naturally still keeping the intrigue. I also felt for main hero of the book and his struggles. I also liked that the book briefly explains the main ideas of Theory of Constraints, describes the Critical Path and introduces the Critical Chain approach with convenient diagrams and real life examples. I was also impressed by the example of negotiation with a third party vendor Richard demonstrated in one of the chapters.

I didn't like that some of the characters are underdeveloped. Nothing happens with Richard's wife, the director of University does not develop neither. Also there is no examples how the manufacturing transformed under the changes and what were the challenges to bring the transformation.  Given "Critical Chain" is a business novel, this is not a big concern.


Project Managers/Delivery Managers. In my this book is an absolute must.

Architects/Lead Software Engineers/Lead Testing Engineers. The book will help to look at your project from another angle. The knowledge you gain can help to discuss the issues with your Project Managers and improve the project schedule.

Developers. You can read this book as a novel, but I would focus on some techincal stuff beforehand.


I am giving the book 3 out of 5 for introduction to Critical Chain concept and ease of reading while not giving enough examples.

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