2021 is the 10 year anniversary of Eli’s untimely passing away. We celebrate Eli’s life and the impact that he and TOC have had on our lives in a series of 2021 Internet on-line conferences around the world: “Eli Goldratt’s Legacy in the World”. Click here
2017: Tribute to Eli
2017 was important on the TOC timeline – Eli Goldratt would have been 70 if he was still with us. Eli has greatly impacted lives of many people – through his books, video lectures, public speeches and, most importantly, through developing Theory of Constraints and making it available to everyone who wants to bring improvements to systems and individuals.
On 11 June 2017, TOCPA together with Goldratt Consulting held Tribute to Eli in Goldratt House in Bene Atarot, Israel. People from 10 countries gathered to remember the man that left a significant mark on so many people’s lives.
Scroll down to the bottom of the posts to see the videos and photos from the 2017 Tribute.
TO OUR FRIEND AND A GREAT THINKER
Thank you to everyone who have sent us their stories and photos.
Many thanks to Wendy Maxwell for the photos of Eli. They caught Eli as he was – sharp, attentive, a great thinker. Amazing photos!
Frances Su, Taiwan
Chinese Goldratt Aliance
A letter in the memory of Dr. Eli Goldratt, from Frances Su, 2016, June 7.
It has been five years since you finally decided to take the retirement that you had mentioned from time to time.
When Oded asked me to find some photos with you, I suddenly realized that I did not know where to find one, because I always thought that I would see you next year either in TOCICO or somewhere in the Chinese region.
Do you remember, there was one question that you were kind of asking me every year, but I did not let you know that I had made up my mind, the answer would always be “my silent smile.” And, I really appreciated that you asked every year and accepted the silent smile as an answer.
There was one memory happened in the beginning of my TOC learning journey, it was a big lesson for me and I thought it also made you feel bad for a while, but I did not mention about it at all till now.
The event was when I did one presentation in the TOC for Education conference, and you stood up right after my talk and made “the strong comment” – about my presentation which contained only feelings and intuition, No logic.” At the time, I was so shocked and felt much discouraged. Now, coming to think about it you could be very sad, because you might have a higher expectation of me.
As now I am more “mature” in understanding the TOC knowledge and applications, sometimes, I would have the similar reaction of yours when seeing others’ presentations, yet I am better one in terms of making comments. Hope that you would feel proud of me, because I have continued to improve my skills for the win-win communication in the TOC way.
I asked you when we met the last time, “what you would like me to do?” With your typical smile and the weak voice, you said “nothing, spreading TOC, be as you are.”
Eli, big hug, Frances, 2016, June 7
Thank you to Wendy Maxwell for providing this photo.
Oded Cohen, Israel
It has been nearly six years that Eli is not with us.
I met Eli in 1978. We had friendship until he passed away.
When we met I was the head of the computer department in Soltam – an Israeli company. These were the days of the development of the integrated computerized systems for manufacturing. A member of my team – Moty Bakalu attended a seminar conducted by Eli on OPT – Optimized Production Technology – a software package. Moty was amazed by the approach presented by Eli and suggested I read the material that was given.
I was in the midst of developing a new scheduling system for one of our production departments. The OPT system that was developed by Eli and his partner was what we really needed. More than just the technical solution there was an immediate personal click between Eli and me.
I was impressed by the concept and the design of the system. I was more impressed with the unique way of thinking of Eli. All the discussions were about the reality of the production and the way the software worked. Nevertheless, I sensed that Eli was different from all the people that I had met in the area of production systems.
His unique was of handling problems and addressing conceptual issues intrigued me. I felt that he is the type of person I would like to work with. We run a benchmark project implementing OPT in two sections of the company. Technically, the implementation was simple, but my colleagues struggled with the concepts that were different to the existing systems. Eli probed and challenged. Together we discovered the extent that the “Cost World” and the cost mentality was dominating and overshadowing any common sense and logical suggestion.
The benchmarking was successful. However, the sales of the company dropped sharply with the collapse of the Iranian market after the removal of the Shah.
I decided to move on. I hoped that Eli would offer me a job. He did not. Nevertheless, we were in regular contact and Eli kept me involved with all the developments of the software and the implementation.
The company that I worked for could not afford the payment for the OPT. Therefore, in my new as production manager and a service manager I used the conceptual solutions even though they were not formalized. In one of the meetings we had he said to me: “I give you one year. Then I want you to come and work with me”. I thought to myself: “OK so he said…” A year later I got a telephone call from him. He said: “NUUU, are you coming?” “Coming where?” I asked. “To work with me”. It took me few more months to complete a project I was running and then I joined Creative Output (1982) to start the UK operation.
In the time preparing for the UK I had the opportunity of working with Eli on building the systems for some accounts. We had many sleepless nights running the schedules again and again until they matched the expectations of Eli.
I joined Eli on a tour to large US corporates. In one week we had meetings with six of them.
Eli gave presentations to top management and board members on the OPT scheduling. He gave and repeated logical and very interesting presentations with remarkable consistence. It was fascinating to follow the structure and the logic of the presentations and the connections that created the flow.
For me it was obvious that he had his unique way of structuring logic, and I was waiting for the time that he will share his way with us. In 1985 we started to work on the “thoughtware” which was the early days of what is known now as the TOC Thinking Processes.
Throughout the years Eli was committed to continuous improvement. He wanted us, the systems and everything that that we developed and constructed to be better and better. This made out life very interesting, fulfilling and rewarding.
In the new year of 1986, we had a global meeting to discuss the goal of Creative Output. At the end of the meeting Eli put together the verbalization of the goal: “To make money while bringing wealth to our clients and using our latest knowledge”. This was a unique way to describe the journey up to this point and the way ahead until today.
Eli and Oded in Barcelona, November 2005. Thank you to Martin Powell for providing this photo.
Eli and Oded, July 2007. Thank you to Wendy Maxwell for providing this photo.
Thank you to Wendy Maxwell for providing this photo.
Wendy Maxwell, Holland
20 years with Eli
Jelena Fedurko-Cohen, Estonia TOCPA
I met Eli in early 2000, somewhere in Europe at a TOC gathering. I entered the lobby, Eli was standing by a window surrounded by people who were talking to him, among them Heiti Pakk – the person who had brought me to TOC by asking me to translate Goldratt’s Satellite Program to Russian. Heiti saw me, Eli caught his look and turned. Heiti said: ‘Eli, and this is Jelena.’ I started: ‘Doctor Goldratt…’ and was interrupted by Eli: ‘It is Eli. You are a part of the family.’ This was all Eli – quick, intense, open, welcoming, appreciative, sharp, demanding and non-compromising. He was a truly great man.
Eli, Heiti Pakk and I, in Amsterdam, May 2000. It is one of the very few pictures that I have with Eli. Eli was always there, and it was never time and felt no need to pose in front of the camera.
At one of the Viable Vision meetings, September 2004. Thank you to Wendy Maxwell for providing the photo.
Gerry Kendall, USA
After such a long association, I do not have any pictures with Eli to share, but many amazing memories.
I first met Eli in 1994 at the Goldratt Institute – he had lunch with our Jonah Program participants and I must admit, even though I was in my ’40’s, I was a little star struck. But over the years, as we got to know each other, I hope I was able to convey to Eli how much he had given to me. The knowledge and the ability to use it successfully was just one thing. His offers of personal help during our wipeouts with hurricane Katrina and our fire were deeply appreciated. What I remember often are the times we sat together and he had us laughing with him one minute and deep in thought the next minute. For me, his brilliance was his ability to take his gift of brainpower and translate it into things that were useful and practical and incredibly powerful. When I work with clients, I celebrate his life and still miss him terribly.
Sanjeev Gupta, USA
Eli has been one of the most charismatic people I have met and his ideas have influenced me greatly.
He has truly left an indelible mark on the world. That’s why so many brilliant people around the world continue taking TOC forward even so many years after his passing away. I look forward to meeting many of you on June 11.
Rami Goldratt, Israel
Eli Schragenheim, Israel
To the memory of a true unconventional genius
The common perception of a genius is that it is hard to get close to such a person. First of all, it is very difficult to understand a genius. Second, the basic character of a genius is to shy away from the (stupid) crowd, which are unable to follow the unique creativity.
Eli was not a typical genius. Actually it is impossible for me to describe Eli as ‘typical’ of any aspect. Eli was definitely easy to approach and carry an informal conversation. He made huge efforts to be properly understood and he carefully listened to what people had to say. Yet, Eli was a true genius who made several huge leaps in managerial thinking. He left us an unbelievable important legacy that we should continue to keep and spread.
In January 1985, I was hired by Creative Output to develop a computer game for adults that would teach them how to think! I did not know anything about Eli, the CEO of the company. I applied for the job because I wanted to work with Eli’s elder brother, Issy, who was a legend in programming. I was given the proofs of The Goal’, there was no copy of the book at the time, to read before my interview with Eli. My interview was very friendly and Eli was delighted to know I used to be a TV director before I made a change into computer programming. Then he asked me how I liked The Goal. I told him I liked the logic very much, but I thought that the executives in the book are described as idiots and I didn’t think this is a fair description. Eli laughed and he accepted me into his company.
Four years later Eli and I sat with the management of a company. The managers told us about their policies, the regular bullshit we know. Eli suddenly turned to me and spoke in Hebrew, so the managers would not understand: “Do you remember telling me that real managers are not bunch of idiots?”
For a genius ordinary people are bunch of idiots. However, Goldratt had a vision of teaching the world to think. He understood that telling people they are idiots does not help his cause. More, he realized he needed good people around him. So, he shouldn’t treat them like idiots. So, he had to force this logic on his basic character. He forced himself to respect people, listening to them and react in a way that would be beneficial for all. This power of being able to change the basic attitude is something I especially admire in Eli.
I was fortunate to have huge amount of face-to-face hours with Eli. What I have learnt is so vast and it definitely changed my thinking. Every time I went to meet him, mostly at his home, I knew I have to be in good state. It was never easy, because whenever I made a comment without thinking of its full ramifications Eli was all over me. Not one slip in logic escaped him. But, he tried not to be too offensive and he cared that I take his criticism to improve my abilities.
A simple story about ‘trust’ that we all should learn from. Back in 1986, I have developed a proto-type of the Goldratt Simulator. It was based on very generic discussions with Eli. I did not see Eli for two months and I wanted him to see what I have done. So, he sat down and the first screen of the simulator showed up. Goldratt asked some questions about the use of random numbers. Then he got up. “Eli – you did not even see the simulator runs!” I said. Eli told me “I don’t need to see how the simulator runs; you tell me it runs then it runs.” This was for me a declaration of trust. It made me proud on what I’ve done. I think this is a most effective management example.
Let’s commit to continue to spread the insights and knowledge of the great man.
and Maria Sierraalta, UK
Eli, Martin and Maria, March 2007
Martin about Eli:
In the early days of Goldratt Group and Goldratt Consulting, I agreed to Eli’s request to become VP Finance and handle all the accounting and tax issues. These were difficult times because we were launching on many different fronts and very few people were in fact 100% of their time working on Goldratt Group assignments. I remember one time when there was a particularly really difficult issue that involved senior people in the Group and how they were behaving about some financial matters. I became very frustrated as I did not have the authority to make changes and I could not understand why Eli was tolerating the situation – so I challenged him. “Eli, why do you let them carry on this way – surely you should take action here?” I said to him.
He looked at me (many of you will know the look) and said, “I do not have a full solution to put in place”. I said, “But surely Eli we can do something”. His reply was “Martin, if one does not have the full solution including the trimming of the negative branches, one risks creating an even more devastating situation. When I have the full solution, I will launch immediately.”
He did develop the solution and he did execute it.
I have thought about this instance many times as I have worked with clients who wanted to rush into changes.
Eli and Goldratt UK-Levee team, London, March 2006
Eli and Maria, Las Vegas 2008 and Japan 2009
Eli told me the first time I met him at a 1.5 hour workshop in São Paulo, Brazil: “you will help me to write again all the books for business”. That was 1993. Today I have translated a dozen of TOC books!! Thanks Dear Eli!!
This is a photo of Eli and Alejandro ar that workshop in São Paulo in 1993.
And 12 years later, in Bogota. 2005:
Eli, Alejandro, Maria and Oded, Bogota, April 2005. Thank you to Martin Powell for providing the photo.
Yaniv Dinur, Israel
A translation of Yaniv’s eulogy at Eli’s funeral, June 2011
And yet, within the pain, I find the strength to say farewell to a man I had the great honor of knowing his greatness first-hand and of being a partner to his vision and to its realization.
Eli for me was a spiritual father, who served as a source of inspiration and who made me believe anything was possible. He knew how to take pleasure in the moments when we disagreed, and how to torment me for every misunderstanding, so I learned enormously from him.
There was in him a rare combination of strength and softness, of a rabbi and a researcher, of stubbornness and flexibility…
He was a philosopher and an inventor, and the extremely precious time we spent together exposed me to the ideas that were born that very moment, to new processes, new insights that one minute earlier we had no idea about their very existence. He never stood in one place – always renewing, progressing, storming forwards and swept us to follow him. In his presence, the brain cogs were always on overtime, never resting, for he demanded of us, his disciples, to try and run with him at the speed of his thought – and so many times we failed…
Since your passing, Eli, we have received hundreds of messages of pain, wonder, and enormous sorrow at your passing; thousands of students across the globe will continue in your path, the path you paved, always uphill, with no shortcuts or compromises, which you paved from a great love for mankind, from an extremely sensitive introspective ability, and above all from an analytical ability and cognitive freshness second to none. For me, Eli, you were a true revolutionary, there was no “holy cow” that you didn’t slaughter, no “accepted rule” that wasn’t re-examined.
There are many people whom, for me, are missing here today, your students, and mates along my road who are not here. Most, if not all of them, are at this very hour about to receive the lesson you just taught us, of the fourth pillar we must develop, of “never say I know”, to always look for the next significant breakthrough, that there is no limit to the ability to progress, to be a scientist, to lean on the existing knowledge, but always know it is not enough, to aspire for the unattainable – and what a wonderful example you have set for us…
Eli, I have been most privileged and honored, I received a wonderful gift – to be one of your students, and I will close with the last words of our last conversation, from only a few days ago – I told you, there are no words with which I can thank you, Eli, only actions! Together with all our friends at GC, we will continue on the path. We already know it will not be easy, we are much more alone now, but we stand firm, determined, equipped with all the insights and lessons you gave us, and moreover, Eli, we are standing on your shoulders, the shoulders of a giant – who held colossal faith that this is the correct way to manage organizations, to think, and with great love of creation.
Jaime Marun, Colombia
A letter to Eli Goldratt, 1995
The answer from Eli
James Cox, USA
It is an honorable tribute to our mentor and friend.
I have many, many fond memories of my encounters with Eli over the years. I met him in 1983 at HIS famous Cost Accounting Public Enemy No. 1 to Productivity and immediately after the presentation I assaulted him with verbal explicatives! I think the presentation ended at 3 PM and we talked till dinner, through dinner and closed down the bar at 2 AM. On departing each other’s company I remarked: “Eli, if you are right and I am beginning to think you are then every business and engineering book on my bookshelves at my office will have to be totally rewritten because only the cover is good.” Eli’s eyes got as big as pool balls and he laughed nervously. At a Goldratt presentation about two decades later he was talking to a large group and started describing this encounter similar to my discussion above and his eyes met mine and he yelled: “AND THAT UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR WAS JIM COX!” He went on to say that he had not realized the impact of his work at the time of our meeting in 1983 but later he realized that my words were true!
Eli and James. Thank you to Wendy Maxwell for providing the photo.
Sadashiv Pandit, India
I as a person and our company Fleetguard have been immensely benefited by adopting to TOC practices, both in business and in personal life.The benefits are many and without TOC, those would not have been possible.
I am attaching a clip, taken while Eli presented the ‘Golden TOCICO’ award to us at Tokyo TOCICO conference, 2009.
Interesting to note that Eli noticed ‘inertia coming in, while we were riding the ‘red’ curve of success. May be, he was suggesting…become Jonah as soon s possible.
I have read “The Goal” in 2000 just after I had finished my MBA. It was such an eye-opener. Since then I got immersed into TOC. I met Eli in 2003 at Cambridge. He knew my country and even told me some part of home town history about very special man – Rabbi Gaon of Vilna. Eli (as we all use to call him) has changed my (and many others’) life through adding more meaning into it.
Eli, Las Vegas 2010
Eli, Nerius and Audrius Vasiliauskas, Las Vegas TOCICO Conference 2008
Emanuele Strada, Italy
Eli and Emmanuele, Pittsburg, 2011
Carol Ptak, USA
Demand Driven Institute
The photo I have to share is my favorite one of Eli. Like so many others I never thought to have my picture taken with him. I guess we all assumed that he would always be there. This was taken in Tacoma at the first conference we ever tried at a fully inclusive facility – at a university. Some bailed out and went to a hotel but Eli stayed on campus. I will never forget the sight of Eli sitting with my students from the university surrounding him just having a conversation. Eli asked questions of the students and so many of those students who volunteered to work that conference tell me that experience changed the direction of their life. That is how it was with Eli. It was never about the answer – it is always about the question. It was such an honor to work with Eli and Eli S writing the book NBNS. Truly that was a life and career changing event for me. Eli was one of the truly greats. It is hard to imagine that he has been gone for 6 years. I still remember picking up that voicemail as I changed flights in Denver heading to the New York City conference knowing that conference was going to be the most difficult conference ever. The TOC community came together and as a team we pulled it off.
Eli with Wendy Maxwell, William Law, Frances Su and VVOE local organizers, 2006
Eli, William and Alfredo Romero in Bejing, China, 2006
Namkee Chung, South Korea
TOC Korea Association
I teach Industrial Engineering at university, and before I knew TOC, I was wondering about the practicality of the IE. Now, however, TOC is bringing life into IE and demonstrating its practicality by applying TOC to corporate management. In this sense, it is a great blessing to me to meet Dr. Goldratt. This photo was taken at the Goldratt House in August 2010. I want to keep this picture with the wisdom and knowledge he has left with me for a long time, and I want to spread TOC more widely.
Henry Camp, USA
TOC Equity Partners
I first met Eli, as I imagine many people did, through his book The Goal.
I had just finished an exhaustive effort, over the previous six months, to allocate expenses down to each invoice. A consultant I met suggested that there are profitable and unprofitable invoices and that, if I just raised prices to make the unprofitable ones profitable, I would make a ton of money in my business. I understood that raising prices worked but it worried me to risk losing sales that contributed to overheads, so I ran a test.
I reprogrammed our computer to calculate and store allocated profit data on every invoice. The test showed a poor correlation to actual net profit per month as compared to the total of the net profits per invoice. Months with more total sales generally outperformed the sum of the profits per invoice and in slow months we actually did much worse than the totals of the invoices for that month predicted.
What a wonderful time for a friend to give me his copy of The Goal. Thanks, Ken Berry. That was August 2003.
As I have often explained since, I felt like I was dog-trotting towards a distant horizon at a pace I could sustain for another 20 to 30 years, until retirement. While reading The Goal, I first slowed my pace, then stopped completely. After completing the book, I figuratively turned in place and started dog-trotting back the way I came, checking everything. It seems that all the sophistication I had learned in school and over 20 years in business was now wrong. I am surprised, looking back, that I suffered no emotional decline, having been proved an idiot.
I read the rest of Eli’s books before 2003 came to a close. We paid to hear him give my partner and me a day-long sales pitch in Atlanta in early 2004. He accepted one of my companies as a VV client. By the end of 2004, I too was a member of “the TOC family” and we focused on TOC Distribution. In 2005, we wrote Dynamic Buffer Management software following the TOC Insights into Distribution, dropped inventory in my other company by 70% and doubled adidas’ same-store sales in three weeks – nobody was more shocked than me! (After the fact, I even required an explanation from Eli.) Rami taught me “Solutions for Sales” and how to write S&Ts. Later, we stopped consulting and moved into private equity to gain better control of companies and capture a bigger share of the improvements.
Eli changed my life. Before I was introduced to TOC, I jumped from one type of improvement strategy to another. None turned out to be sustainable profit-makers. I was bored. Since 2003, I have been immersed in TOC. First it was simple. Next, I managed to complicate it. Now, it is getting simpler again.
Like so many others, I never made a picture with him, despite how important he was to me. The first image is a screen capture, when we both happened to be in the frame, from a video shot at adidas, January 30, 2006. That meeting became the second chapter of Eli’s book The Choice. The second photo is a posthumous portrait Rami sent me and is the background on my computer’s desktop. The more he stares off, the harder I work.
Not knowing he was sick, I didn’t start soon enough to accomplish this before he passed away. We set up a LinkedIn site and I even spoke to the US Ambassador to Sweden. Thanks to the others who lent a hand in the effort. He richly deserved it but they are only awarded to the living.
Thank you Eli, I’ll never forget you or any of the other wonderful friends I have met through TOC.
Seyhan Tugcu, Turkey
It dawned upon me that I have no pictures taken with me and Eli. There is one memory that I haven’t forgotten: how I met Eli in person the first time. That was when I went to Prague to attend the Viable Vision seminar. My husband Nejat was accompanying me. The night before the seminar we went to the hotel restaurant for dinner. They had a Swiss night, very romantic atmosphere with candle lights, etc. As we waited to place our order, we noticed the plates being served at adjacent tables. The plates were huge. Politely, we told the waiter that we wanted to have a light dinner and asked him if there was another place at the hotel we can go to. He said there is a roof restaurant at an adjunct building. So we went there. That was a big restaurant with dim lights. After my eyes got adjusted to the darkness, I noticed at the far end of the restaurant, Goldratt sitting amongst a large group of people. I really had the urge to go and talk to him, but I didn’t have the courage. I thought it would be impolite to disturb him and kept staring at that far corner, not knowing what to do. Suddenly, he got up and headed for the exit at a steady pace. Just as he was about to cross our table I jumped up and blocked him. He was quite startled. Quickly, I explained that I am a teacher who admired his work greatly. He asked where I was from. When I said, I am from Turkey, he was so surprised and quickly pulled a chair from an adjacent table, sat down and we started talking about TOC, my objectives, etc. We talked for about half an hour. There was a single man sitting at a nearby table. He kept listening to what we were saying and stared at us with astonished, wide-open eyes. Finally, Goldratt invited Nejat to join the seminar and got up. Well, that’s how it all started. Later on, when Goldratt visited Istanbul, he explained to people around how I “tackled” him in a hotel restaurant. This is a very fond memory for me.
John Covington, USA
I met Eli in 1987 when I was a client for Bob Vollum, who at one time worked for Creative Output. I met Eli when he was giving a speech in Reading, PA in ’87 and Bob introduced me. I was then the plant manager of the world’s largest paint manufacturing facility owned by Sherwin-Williams. I had implemented TOC (I do not recall if we even called it TOC then) and we had excellent results. Eli listened to what I had to say, looked me in the eye and said, “You will be fired within one year.” And I was.
In summer of ’88 I attended a Jonah class taught by Eli and Dale Houle. Also in that class were Jim Cox, Mark Woeppel, Kevin Fox, Harvey Opps, Chris Wysong, one of the associates from Brazil who I cannot spell his name and a few others.
After completing the Jonah course I became an associate of the Goldratt Institute and handled most of the south. I guess AGI folks figured I could speak the language. AGI, the associate network and the clients were a tight knit family in the late 1980’s early 1990’s. We had many meetings in New Haven which normally ended up at a restaurant with “Late Night Discussions” with Eli.
My closest interaction with Eli was the activity before and during the Apparel Supply Chain project where we did a Jonah Course for an entire supply chain at Clemson University. We had executives from the fiber producer, textile company, apparel company, retailer and also members of academia and the US Department of Commerce. Many, many “late nights” and lots of learning and challenging assumptions. Also some lighthearted moments. One such moment involved Eli and his then, ever-present cigar.
Clemson was a non-smoking environment. Ed Hill, who was our Clemson sponsor, and I anticipated Eli would light up and we need a plan. It would not be good for me to say anything as I was “part of the family.” The first day of the session arrived and we were all waiting for Eli to begin the day. About five minutes goes by and Eli lights his cigar.
Ed Hill speaks up and says; “Dr. Goldratt, this is a non-smoking building so you need to snuff out that cigar.”
Eli pauses and replied; “What is the penalty if I don’t?”
Ed answered, “We will have to cancel the session.”
Eli snapped, “Fine!” snuffs out the cigar and then adds, “John why do you get me in such messes?”
During the first break Eli had his assistant book one of the local hotels at his expense to finish the entire course. That was one expensive cigar.
Eli encouraged me to write a book about the apparel chain experience which I did. It was not a very good book but it was my first and gave me confidence to write more.
Also a company, Chesapeake Consulting, was formed that has provided value for me, my family, employees, a host of clients and charities that we have supported over the years.
Eli had a hand in all of that. I am blessed to have had Eli Goldratt in my life.
This is probably around 1990-1991 time frame. Note that the only ones not in coat and tie are the two TOC characters — Eli and me. He was teaching me to not dress up but I was a slow learner and still wore a tie. Gus Whalen was far left, Roger Ciskey was far right and he was the CEO of Mercantile Stores which was a large retailer at the time and next to Roger was Ed Hill who was our contact at Clemson. Ed eventually came to work for Chesapeake and is still active as an independent consultant in TOC. Gus Whalen did a lot of public speaking for TOC. Gus passed away several years ago.
Tony Doughty, UK
He was a giant for me at a time when I needed one!!!!
Mario Alberto Hernandez, Colombia
In memory of the genius
I will always remember Eli as a genius and a Grand Master.
When I first read the book the Meta I simply could not stop until I finished it; I felt that I was Alex Rogo, Oh well finally I felt understood and with a logical and simple solution. At the TOC-ICO conference in Cartagena I had the opportunity to show what we had achieved, Jorge Ramirez told me that while Eli listened to me he lit his pipe and began to smoke; at the end of my presentation and after several applauses he went and gave me the best hug of my life. Later I called and asked Javier Arevalo to translate something that he wanted to tell me. Of his words I keep this slogan: you have to help me to change the world now; it became a life purpose starting with my own skills.
In the presentation of the Viable Vision event in Colombia a manager asked if it was possible to know where the constraint was normally found in companies, and Eli stepped in front of the manager and took him by the ears and said HERE BETWEEN THESE TWO EARS. I will not forget this either.
I always and always would have wanted to share more with Eli, in return he left us great students and friends.
Thank you for existing.
Nick Middle, UK
A day in the life of an “OPT Analyst” in COUK in Hounslow c1985
Picture the scene….
We, in Creative Output based in Hounslow were told, “Tomorrow, Eli will be visiting, he will be in the office around 9 am”.
So, I’m in early having had a 1¼ hour journey.
Eli arrived, straight off the ‘Red Eye’ flight from US, dropped into the flat in Osterley Park, to put on a fresh white shirt (that is an assumption, but as there was not a crease in it – so, the assumption must have been valid) and arrived at the office about 9.15.
His imminent arrival was met with an air of anticipation and excitement (as always), which was confirmed with a whiff of ‘Monte Cristo’ cigar smoke – he had arrived.
09.15 – We all (about 15) assembled in the largest room, then Eli said “Good Morning, and then began to tell us the latest business news from US – this morning it was re GM – Saginaw division.
11.00 – A welcome cup of coffee. Then back to more news from around the world.
12.30 – We break for lunch, whilst Eli has a meeting with our MD, has some dried apricots and of course another ‘Monte’.
13.30 – We reassemble – for the ‘eagerly awaited’ update from Eli re OPT, and the latest business approach. “Today, I would like to outline our ‘10 day VAT analysis’ for businesses – Eli announced”. Within 2 minutes, I am acutely aware that he is NOT talking about Value Added Tax!
16.00 – Coffee! Ooh! My head is aching!
16.15 – Part 2 – Wow – this a good stuff! – and there’s more… and more… and more! Is that the third ‘Monte’? I ask myself, for momentary light relief.
18.00 – There is a minutes pause , as we all listen to the only plane we can hear taking off from Heathrow 2 miles away – the 6pm Concorde flight. Then back to it.
19.00 – We, are mentally ‘hanging over the ropes’. By this time Eli is getting into full stride, but advised by some kind person that we are mere mortals.
20.00 – Home, the journey flew by. Lyn (my wife), says “Dinner ready, had a good day”?
“Yeh, great! Just another NORMAL day at the COUK office!”
Epilogue: Who would have believed – that a smart algorithm of finding an optimum answer to a point in an ‘n’ dimensional space, would have led to ‘universal way of thinking’, that will be indelible to time? Who would have believed…
Eli believed – that’s who!!
Eli’s legacy to all.
A photo of Nick, of near that time.
Dieter Legat, Switzerland
Thank you, Eli, Genius
A Genius is someone who sees things beyond what others see today and by doing so opens doors through which others will follow.
Einstein, Picasso, Heisenberg were such persons. And so were you, Eli.
A Genius is impatient and many times harsh with people who cannot see what he sees. And so were you, Eli. It was sometimes not a pleasure to visit a customer with you.
I still remember meeting you for a day for a heated discussion on using TOC in sales. Where we strongly disagreed with your view that sales’ job is just to bring product to market. You did not mind disagreement; you just challenged us to the last second.
Thank you, Eli, for the new world to which you opened the door for me:
Of truly viewing a company as a system (instead an org chart, as others did) – you insisted on this view long before others started to follow, and even today many still did not get it,
Of the importance of just one operational goal for a company – you defined T long before the accounting world followed with contribution margin and other goals, and again: many still today have not understood,
Of the importance of rigorous, data driven causal analysis – which you
recognized years before others now are starting to follow.
I believe up there, where you are now, they are in need of your help – some of your advice on conflict resolution for this planet, I guess. Don’t be too harsh with them – but don’t give up. (I know you will not).
Thank you, Eli.
David Higgings, UK
Key to Learning
As we pass through life many doors open and we choose whether to go through them or ignore them. I have been trying to recall unsuccessfully how the invitation to a Management Training Programme in Maidenhead came about and why I accepted it. However, the decision to pass through this door it turned out to be one of the better decisions that I have made.
I had never heard of the Goldratt Institute until I was offered that opportunity. It is fair to say that the thinking processes have influenced the way I think about problems from that day on. It was a while before I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting Eli Goldratt in person thanks to TOC for Education. He was both a giant of a man and a pussycat rolled into one. Conversations with him with him were always enlightening, challenging and stimulating but always moderated with humour and compassion.
There are just a few people who when they leave this life provide a legacy which influences the lives of so many people left behind. Eli is one of those. Both consciously and subconsciously the processes he left to us affect the what we think and the way we behave. It was a privilege to have been touched by his ideas and educated by his conversations.
Giedrius Balnys, Lithuania
My TOC journey started in 2005 after I read “The Goal”. At that time many people kept joining TOC. I used to see Dr Goldratt at TOCICO conferences, but I never knew him personally. In 2005 I joined Goldratt Schools Application Expert Program and this gave me TOC knowledge, understanding and the sense of what TOC is. TOC has changed my life and my understanding of the world. I have worked with TOC since then.
Thank you Dr.Goldratt for TOC, for your sharp mind, for TOC community and for opening my eyes.
Nicholas Renecle, South Africa
The first memories of Eli which I have are from when I started working at the Goldratt Institute (South Africa) straight out of University in 1997. I met Eli at the Jonah Upgrade Workshop held in Pretoria at The Farm Inn that year and was in total awe.
Eli was and always will be a huge influence in my life and has enabled me to become the person I am today.
Thanks to Eli for allowing us to publish his novels locally we have been able to disseminate the Theory Of Constraints to a lot of South Africans who might never have had the chance to learn about it otherwise.
TOC continues to grow from strength to strength in South Africa and to Eli we will be forever grateful
Robert Stein, USA
The first time I saw Eli was at an APICS meeting in Houston Texas in 1990. He came to do a presentation and I had never heard of him before even though I was on the Houston APICS chapter’s board of directors. That presentation changed my life. I was convinced that I had to know more. It was not just the information presented but the way it was presented. Eli had a way of presenting that made everyone in the audience feel at home, like he was talking directly to each person. Eventually, I became active in the Goldratt Institute in Newhaven, CT helping to sell and implement the TOC based scheduling system called Disaster. That is how I became more familiar with Eli as a person. Eli was not some super smart geek living out in the twilight zone. He was very personable and would stop everything he was doing to make sure I fully understood what he was saying. Eventually, I learned enough that I was able to publish books. That in itself was amazing to me. I could never have imagined that I would ever do something like that.
So, Eli, wherever you might be today, I want to personally thank you for coming into my life and making the impact that you did. You are truly one of a kind and you are surely missed.
Dale Houle, USA
Avraham Y. Goldratt Institute
It was 1980 and I was working as a design engineer for a company that built machine tools for other manufacturing companies. Every time I would ask the question “why are you doing this, this way” the answer would always be the same, “because, that is the way we have always done it”, which was not the answer I was looking for. In late 1980, I interviewed with Creative Output, which is where I first met Eli. During the interview process I asked Eli that very same question, and his response was “I don’t know, let’s figure out why”. That answer was enough for me to know that this was the person that I would soon be working with, spring of 1981. It is those very same words, “I don’t know, let’s figure out why”, that have continued to guide the development of TOC to this day.
Bimlendra Jha, UK
Tata Steel UK
Eli has been a true Guru to me with the Indian meaning of the term, “one who removes darkness” so that the pupil can see the reality for himself or herself!
Here are some pictures I could gather: These are the pictures of Eli’s first visit to Jamshedpur to launch the viable vision program called “Aspire Unlimited” on 1st June 2005.
Mark Woeppel, USA
Here are two photos. I just wish they were better. All the times we were together, never thought of taking photos.
The one with Eli and I in Seoul, March 2004. We were both invited to speak at a ToC conference. I didn’t know Eli would be there, but we met in the green room of the conference. Both of us surprised to see each other. I don’t remember a lot of what happened at the conference. We had dinner with some TOCFE people, which was quite enjoyable. He was very relaxed and social; not the typical “teaching Eli”, that we all know so well. I don’t think Wendy was there.
What stands out from this time together. Eli said to me, “We are citizens of the world.” It made me realize that I was having a global influence; a kind of affirmation of my work so far. Coming from Eli, that was, for me, something special.
The one with Eli, Lisa Scheinkopf and I in Phoenix. Fall of 1988 (!)
I had organized a presentation with Lisa, who was working with the local APICS chapter. She was the hostess / organizer, I was, at the time, an Associate of AGI.
This photo was taken when I was introducing Lisa to Eli. A rather historic day! She has a very nice story to tell about this day, and her conversation with Eli.
Lisa Scheinkopf, USA
This is the sister photo to the one that Mark Woeppel sent. Was taken within moments of the other one.
Meeting Eli in 1988
Fist, the (short version of the) story of the day I met Eli (and the day Mark became my brother from another mother)…
Eli, Mark and I were having a drink together at the conclusion of the 1-day event in Phoenix. (These were the days of 1-day Eli Show à 2-day Executive Decision Making Workshop à Jonah Course à Simulator License) Eli asked if I had any questions of him. Well, at the time the only women working for or with AGI were admin staff. So, I asked him: Why are there no female Partners or Associates? He looked at me with that mischievous Eli grin, raised his hand in the air and brought his fist down hard on the table and as the grin turned into a bit of a glare said, “Because no women have tried to CRACK my organization!” I took the bait. When I drove my new friend Mark Woeppel to the airport that evening, he completed the sale. And a few months later I was a Certified Associate of The Avraham Y. Goldratt Institute.
That was also the time that Mark became my brother from another mother :).
The first photo I’m attaching is from a dinner at that steak house in New Haven (can’t believe I forgot the name).
It was 1991, and we were the very first “Jonah’s Jonahs.” (And oh my, how young!) We were the first of two groups of AGI Associates that Eli selected for the purpose of helping him to design the “new Jonah Course” which would move the program from teaching how to teach TOC/DBR with the simulators to teaching “how to think like Jonah”. Around the table, starting from the left: Otto who was with Phillips NV, Mark, Eli, me, Harvey Opps, Warren Foster, Wendy, Kevin Fox, and Dick Moore who was still teaching at Air Force Academy at the time.
We would meet at that beautiful former church that was AGI’s building for a few days each month and dive into the different thinking processes – what they were, what was the purpose of each, how to do them, how they fit together, etc. It was during the first Gulf War and Iraq was throwing scud missiles at Israel. In between Eli’s calls home to make sure family was safe, he guided our learning process with lessons in Talmud, chaos theory and Mandelbrot fractals, and challenged our thinking incredibly. And yes, it took a while for us all to realize that when Eli said “cows” he really meant “chaos”.
Our group would be followed by a second, and then the final part of the process was a gathering of the 2 groups plus several of Eli’s partners in The Netherlands to finalize the program. One of the most powerful personal growth times of my life.
I’ve attached another picture that is meaningful for me. This is a picture of Eli with my daughter, Jennifer. It was taken after the Odyssey Program that was held in Louisville (don’t remember exactly the year). The looks on their faces tell the story of their care for each other – they had a real mutual appreciation society that was strong for many years. The gentle, loving Eli came out whenever she was around, even if she was in the room when I was on a Skype call with him. When she died, I imagined Eli and my Dad lovingly greeting her when she arrived to wherever it is our souls go. Sometimes when I close my eyes, I envision the 3 of them singing along and dancing to the varieties of music they all enjoyed.
Rafael Conde, Colombia
In 1998 I read the GOAL and I was shocked after that, maybe due to the fact I am not an Engineer I enjoyed the book from cover to cover and I decided to learn about the author. I bought many copies of the book just to give to my friends – the grey cover edition form North River Press.
A couple of weeks later I created a group of people which purpose was to read the book, a chapter every week. Alejandro Fernandez joined the group when we were in the middle of the lecture and he was one of the main readers.
We both decided to contact Eli and it was the starting point of our story, today we are TOCers and we have Eli’s thoughts lighting our way.
Many friends came to us and we created consulting companies to transfer and develop TOC knowledge for a better future in our countries. My own family is devoted to TOC. My life is TOC.
Dr. Eli Goldratt with Dr. Govers and Dr. Conde
Barcelona, October 2005
Medellín, TOC seminar, 2007
The Netherlands, March 2008
Lisa Lang, USA
Science of Business
John Tripp, Scotland
I remember Eli for the thinking processes (not systems thinking), for his constant checking of basic assumptions, for his patience, for his concern and warmth.
Dark matter is said to be what holds the universe together. Dr Goldratt’s philosophy of life, his belief in people, and the thinking processes make up the dark matter that I believe pulls people into TOC and holds us together.
Eli imposed himself on my sub conscious, in a seminar in London in February 1985, later that day he invited me to join Creative Output, well that is what I remember now. It could have been Ken Struthers or Nick Middle or more likely Oded Cohen (although I think I remember Oded did not really want me to join, he was probably right) or another of the brilliant people who presented OPT and OPT philosophy at that meeting. Whatever, really happened it changed my life for the better and I believe increased the contribution I have been able to make with my life.
Increasing people’s ability to contribute particularly to making the world a better place, is how I will remember Dr Goldratt, as well as being a very tough, challenging and uncompromising person. What he did for me with the support of people like Oded is beyond thanks.
I only had a few short personal meetings with Eli, the first in 1985, after joining Creative Output and training in Connecticut on the OPT Business Analysis Course where we learnt not just about OPT but about the thinking, the cause and effect of V, A, and T plants. We had dinner one night with Eli and he ensured he talked with each of us on the course.
There were more personal meetings with Eli when I was helping him to set up TOCICO and he was leading the inaugural TOCICO event in Atlanta at IBM. He was very down then about what some of his partners were doing in the US and with the reaction of the TOC community to his ICO idea and direction for TOCICO, I will not say what he said about leading x to water but…
Another meeting, in a hotel room in Stockholm where he was going to present Necessary But Not Sufficient involved reading a passage of a book to him that he was writing at the time. He had started to read it to me – he wanted my comments! – but almost immediately he realised to get the involvement needed and to hear better what I thought, that he should get me to read it to him. That was a real a lesson involvement.
Much earlier, having invited Eli to be chairman of the Anglo JIT club in the UK lead to me being his and Wendy’s chauffeur on several occasions between London airport and Birmingham or some such conference venue where he would do a key note speech for us. One trip I listened to him and Wendy working on “How” the uncompleted book on personal relationships. I still have a copy of the few chapters that were written. I wonder what this would have lead to if it had been completed. Another Anglo JIT club annual meeting lead to Kaplan and Eli sharing the stage and Kaplan agreeing publicly that Activity Based Costing was probably flawed. Eli was great at getting people to say things out loud. There was another occasion in Creative Ooutput offices with 40 European professors playing the dice game when Eli said the problem with you is you have all stopped thinking and to a man (there were no ladies) they answered out loud: YES YOU ARE RIGHT!
One of the most impactful meetings with Eli for me was when Eli came to Zurich at my request to help with a meeting in ABB with Jens Birgersson in 2003. He came at no cost to me or ABB stayed two days and worked late into the night on what we did on the 2nd day. That session with ABB created a tremendous benefit for ABB and has lead to me having an ongoing business relationship with ABB for the past 14 years and which is still flourishing today.
Eli asked Jens to prepare a 30 min presentation, it took Jens the best part of the first day to finish the 30 min presentation having to deal with many interjections and questions from Eli. In the 2nd day the direction of a large unit in ABB changed dramatically based on how Eli responded to Jen’s presentation and on Eli getting the 48 senior people in the room to see the real problem and to agree on a better direction for the future. It lead to many hundreds of people keeping their jobs who would not have done so, it lead to a growth and profit generation that must have supported many ABB shareholders. Many billions of dollars were generated by Jens and his team taking on board Eli’s injection in the next two years.
The last meeting I had with Dr Goldratt was in Amsterdam after I had a heart operation in 2007. He was very warm and concerned about my health and pleased about my recovery. It was a real surprise for me at the interest and concern he showed. After a quick lunch cooked by Wendy, he again read a passage from a chapter from his new book he was working on, he had a question about a particular sentences he wanted my opinion on – I don’t know why I am a useless writer but he seemed very interested in how I viewed these few words. Shortly afterwards I had to leave, Very sadly I did not meet with Eli again.
I do not have any photographs of Eli with or without me to share sorry, I only have those mental images that we are so good at shaping to our own ends.
Filippo Pescara, Italy
Goldratt Research Labs
With my mentor Eli – TOCICO 2005 Barcelona
Darius Radkevicius, Lithuania
I met Eli in 1999. Truth be told, it was only through watching video lectures. I was so impressed by these lectures that I decided that I must see Eli live. However, at that time my personal financial situation was not great. Thus I decided to go to TOC for Education conference. I went there with a hope that teachers would reveal in full what is TOC. However, I did not expect that Eli would completely change my way of thinking. After the talks with Eli, it felt that my head rotated 180 degrees. It took me 3 years of a hard daily work to fully comprehend TOC. To enhance my comprehension, I participated in almost all the conferences since 2000 and every time I would come back energized and with a vision for the future.
I hold Eli as my real teacher – A Guru with the capital letter G. He taught me how to think, how to grasp the entirety, cause and effect relationship and where to look for answers to the mysteries of life.
I have only one photo with Eli from our first meeting in Cambridge, UK.
Roy Stratton, UK
Nottingham Trent University
Eli was coming to Nottingham!
It was June 2008 and Alex Knight had arranged for Eli to take the final day our MSc in TOC (healthcare management) at Nottingham Business School. What a privilege and an inspiration to the students and faculty that included many from QFI Consulting. Eli didn’t disappoint, although he subsequently caused some heated discussion with the Business School faculty!
Eli had stopped off in Nottingham on route to south America where there was promise of a number of major retail viable vision prospects. There was much excitement regarding these prospects, which did not materialise, but the trip and associated learning is recorded in Eli’s book ‘The Choice’. Eli originally used the experience in the introduction to stress the importance of the learning over any sense of disappointment. This account was subsequently relegated to the appendix if you are interested in checking it out.
Eli has been the main influence in my University career from attending presentations of ‘The Race’ in 1986 in Hounslow and with the support of Oded becoming a Jonah Jonah in 1991.
Today my focus is on using TOC thinking in the development and integration of OM theory and practice – his legacy has had a lasting impression on academia as well as practice although academics are more difficult to engage!
Debi Roberts, UK
I first met Eli in Mexico. I think it was 2006. I was extremely nervous. I had only recently learnt how to use TOC thinking processes. I was presenting with my daughter, Emma, to an auditorium of people, all more expert in TOC than we were. Our intention was to share how we were using the tools with children outside of the classroom. The only thing keeping my nerves in check that day was knowing that Eli had left earlier that morning and would not be able to attend our presentation. I happily returned from the morning coffee break to finish setting up only to find Eli and his assistant, Wendy, sitting in the front row. Their plans had changed and now they were patiently waiting for us to start. I was terrified but Emma, who was all of 16 at the time, rose to the occasion and we got to the end of our presentation without an issue. Eli immediately offered Emma a place on an Odyssey Programme and from that point on seemed to take a special interest in our work. I am not sure it was any more special than the interest he showed in everyone who used TOC to improve children’s lives but we appreciated it enormously. I think that was one of the qualities that first made an impressions on me; his capacity to take an interest, keep an eye on everything and know so much about so many subjects. This was reconfirmed when I heard him talk at the IOD in London to Directors from a wide range of industries. It seemed to me that he knew as much if not more about each specialism and business sector and by definition, each person there. Being in the presence of someone who ‘knows’ your obstacles and constraints as well if not more clearly than you do, can be simultaneously terrifying and deeply comforting and liberating.
During that nerve wracking first presentation in Mexico, I asked Eli (and everyone else in the auditorium) to imagine a Newton’s Cradle and to remind ourselves that in addition to being an executive toy, it helps us see that energy creates an equal and reactive force. I went on to share that on reflection this might cause some concern. If we were all using TOC to support others change their lives for the better, we were creating a lot of positive energy! And if that were the case, what might it mean in terms of an equal and reactive force? If we need to consider the obstacles to our goal, how could we reconcile this? Neither a scientist nor a mathematician, I struggled to find an answer and although I was not sure it was the solution I was hopeful that TOC, would create a critical mass of energy so powerful that we would no longer worry that we might create an equal and reactive negative force, instead, going back to the Newton’s Cradle metaphor, we would knock those balls up and over so they that they became part of a force for exponential growth born from the ability to think clearly, find win-win solutions to our conflicts, predict, modify and achieve our worthy goals and thus create a reality where we could all truly enjoy our human potential.
A few years later I spoke privately, albeit very briefly with Eli. We were in Florida, at a TOCFE Conference. I had been wondering about a possible connexion between TOC and mindfulness and the capacity to enhance a deeper spiritual awareness. Although we were already using it in pedagogy, what greater education was there than knowing ourselves, our purpose, as well as our fears and how to overcome them? It seemed to me that TOC was so useful in facilitating the exploration of our deepest thoughts and concerns and providing us with a scaffold through which we could gain a better understanding of our internal and external lives. As such, the philosophical basis of TOC was becoming more and more important to me and I wanted to know if the potential for personal and spiritual development was something Eli recognised too and perhaps was always part of his goal (or the goal)? He smiled and said, ‘Yes’.
There really wasn’t much more to say…….it was as if I had been peeping around a door, captivated by all the amazing colours I saw but nervous as to whether it was ok to go through or not. Eli had now flung that door wide open for me, nothing was stopping me going through ……except me! As always, I now had a choice.
Dr Eli Goldratt created the cause and effect that changed my life and in doing so allowed me the extraordinary privilege of facilitating change for others.
Very recently (May 2017), a 14 year old girl I had been teaching outside of school, who had previously been involved in gangs, permanently angry and in constant trouble in school, was beaming me at me in class. She told me she couldn’t wait till she got her end of year report. She said, ‘Miss, you should have seen me, I was SO bad. But this course (in TOC and wellbeing) has changed me. I am really confident and so much happier and focused.’ Eli provided us with tools that allows these kinds of conversation to happen all the time.
A 14 year old dyslexic lad recently (March 2017) told me that learning how to apply TOC had changed the way he engages with his education as he now has a clear way to explain his thoughts. He was particularly happy having used the tools to analyse the suitability of various contenders to the Norman throne and was able to explain and justify the qualities of each. He got 100% for his paper.
Eli provided us with the tools through which this kind of outcome happens on a regular basis.
Every time I listened to Eli give a talk, he would assert that people want more than anything else, to have a meaningful life. Because of Eli, my life has a new level of meaning and it is clear for everyone that Eli achieved this for himself beyond measure as the ripple effects of his work and passion are and will be felt across time and space.
In loving memory.
Shoshi Reiter, Israel
Discussions with Eli
“If a man can bridge the gap between life and death,
if he can live after he’s died, then maybe he was a great man”.James Dean
I met Eli for the first time at a conference in Miami where I presented my research in science. Eli seemed to be distanced and inaccessible. I was so excited when he spoke to me. We talked briefly. He was asking questions and pinpointed thinks to think about and improve. He was sharp and brutally honest.
At the evening we sat, a bunch of people, in his room and sang Israeli songs. I discovered other sides him: a warm person who loved music, even sentimental and romantic songs. He was a caring host for all of us and we had a great time. As much as he was a world citizen he was an Israeli in his soul. I became hooked to TOC and enchanted by Eli.
I found myself a welcome guest at time his home in Israel. We had unforgettable discussions. We talked about his service in the IDF and the parents’ home, and how that experience affected his way in life.
Over the years we became close friends. Sometimes I just jumped over at the end of the day to share my experiences or he needed somebody “Ignorant” to test new ideas.
Eli was my Mentor. One of the times I came very proud and excited about my progress using TOC. He was listening to me quietly and the out of the blue said: “Don’t forget what gives you stability!!” and I learned about the red curve and the green one about prosperity and on the importance sustainability. There is a Jewish farce that “A person sees to the eyes and God sees the heart.” Eli could see what meets the eyes and in the heart. He knew what to say to encourage me to proceed. Sometimes, he just listened and let the insights came up. Eli had a great part in my professional development. He helped me believe in my-self and that anything is possible.
Eli was a true friend. When I was desperate I picked up the phone and said
– “Ellie, I need a spoon of remedy” and he said “Come” and “If you need anything – just ask.” I know many people have met his generosity, warmth and caring.
I was privileged to meet him and carry with me his guidance. I thank him for every moment he shared with me and for the women I became. A mentor and a friend, a big daddy and a child, all joined together in a great man. May he rest in peace.
Rocco Surace, USA
The Bonadio Group
Eli, I continue to think about you most every day of my life.
I have come to understand how much I received from you when I can still have conversations with you and you respond.
Thank you for always making the time for me.
Thank you for introducing me to what have become lifelong friends.
Thank you for inviting me into your world to learn.
Thank you for your friendship.
Through all the trainings, learnings, projects, meetings, I must say my most enjoyable times were the meals we shared and the conversations during those meals.
It is those “late night conversations” I miss the most.
Eli with early GC North America Team
Ravi Gilani, India
When I look back on the contributions in my life from Eli, it becomes difficult to what to include and what to exclude as he has contributed in all aspects of my life.
However I am sharing a few of these that stand out.
If you can think, then it must be possible otherwise God would not have allowed that thought in your mind
Before I met Eli, I used to insist on getting absolute accurate data. I learnt from Eli that in most cases the decision / actions would not change even if the data is totally correct
Do not be afraid to share your opinion even if the whole world does not share your view
Eli changed the way one looks at the financial figures to quickly identify corrective actions or take decisions
Eli combined hard sciences with human psychology to create a solution for project management
Eli created a frame work for articulating our conflicts both external and internal. In fact I believe that the conflict diagram is his greatest contribution to mankind
Ramakrishna Kasichainula, India
Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories
I was involved in implementation, adoption and benefit realization of CCPM in Dr Reddy’s for the last 9 years. In these years, I have discussed, presented, and brainstormed CCPM with more than 1000 people in my company, conferences and institutes. Almost all the times, there is a systematic response in phases of curiosity, connect, self-realization and finally a quick buy in to the concept and tremendous respect to Dr Eli Goldratt. We had a great opportunity to interact with Dr Eli Goldratt in a day long program in Dr Reddy’s and for sure, it’s a lifetime experience.
Celso Calia, Brasil
Goldratt Associados Brasil
Dear TOC lovers, I have two unforgetable stories involving Eli and me:
In 1982, coming from the USA, my boss, General Manager of the brasilian branch of Garrett Turbocharger, brought to me one copy of The Goal. Being a Production Manager, I loved it and I immediately built a team of enthusiastic people of my area, you know, those guys with “blood in the eyes”. We put the plant upside down. And I wrote to Eli, presenting myself and summarizing what was being done and the results. In the day after, somebody came to me and said that an “american” guy was wanting to talk with me, over the phone. I thought it was some one from the headquarter, in the US. Instead, I heard “Hi Celsio (with i), this is Eli Goldratt. Can you talk for a minute? ” I thought somebody was teasing me, but indeed, was him, the author of the book that impacted me, the most, in my entire life. When I was trying to digest such an unbelieveable situation, he said: “I am impressed with your implementation of my ideas. May I visit you next week?”, as if he lived in a town neighbour to São Paulo. Well, few days later Eli and Bob Fox were waiting for me in Reception and stayed with us for three days… Do I have to say more???
I guess it was mid 1988. I had just arrived from the second Jonah Program, by AGI. Ford New Holland, our number one customer, representing 45% of Garrett sales, suddenly announced that they were closing their activities in Brasil. Death was in front of us. Throughput Accounting literally saved us, proving that some initiatives known as craziness, in fact brought fresh money. I made Eli aware about this movement. In those days, NAA (National Accounting Association – USA) was announcing a debate in Cambridge, Boston, between Eli and Robert Kaplan. The intention was to offer to more than 300 people in the audience, the opportunity to compare Throughput Accounting and ABC Costing. Unexpectedly, Eli called me again, inviting me to be one of his testimonials, by presenting our case. And he said that he would pay for all expenses, including my wife´s. We went. The atmosphere of the debate was tense. It was a war. Eli and his testimonial team stayed in the right side of the big table on the stage. Kaplan team was in the left side. The facilitator was a very short lady, sat in the middle of the table, begging Eli and Kaplan (mainly Eli) to behave. After being able to control my shaking legs, my testimonial went well. After the break, the facilitator came back wearing a motorcycle helmet. The big laugh cooled down the tense atmosphere, but, you know, just for a while… Was it an event with happy end? Hummm…
That was Eli. And for me, it still is… Always coming with something unexpected, and always dressing his speeches with genius touch.
I am sad for not being able, this time, to be again in a ceremony for Eli.
Ajai Kapoor, USA
I am chosen by Sanjeev Gupta to go visit Eli and capture requirements for the Project Management Simulator. I am not sure what to expect. Eli asks me about my background. He talks about the latest knowledge being developed in TOC. He is excited about the three cloud approach. He explains with the picture of connected dots the meaning of “simple”. He talks about the multi-project solution. He is still mulling over the need for a capacity buffer on the Drum in a project context. We start to discuss the simulators – he explains things starting with the idea of variability and dependency. I pause – it is not clear to me what these mean. He draws the toy examples of activity dependencies and resource dependencies. I use these till today to start my explanations about how to manage with uncertainty and the challenges it creates. My education in TOC begins.
He asks me about people I admire. I mention Mahatma Gandhi. He brings up the dilemma of means and ends. He has not made up his mind yet. Do ends justify the means?
He sets me thinking.
TOCICO – Miami
Eli is giving his update. He talks about the chaotic nature of most organizations. He describes the butterfly effect. The ineffectiveness of any approach that is focused solely on reducing variability. I am encouraged by the topic to ask a question that has been on my mind – “There are organizations for which uncertainty is positive – it is positive value they bring. How to distinguish good uncertainty from bad variability”. I think he likes the question. He asks me to keep thinking about it. I do. This is now my life’s work. Thinking about uncertainty – both as a source of waste but also as a source of great value and freedom.
Eli’s house Israel
I am visiting Israel often for the implementation of CCPM at Amdocs. I visit Eli at this house. We talk about the struggles in implementing CCPM. The challenge of maintaining quality. I ask a question “How can we control the outcome of the implementation?”. He reacts strongly to the word “control”. He asks me “where did that word enter in your thinking?”. I realize I am going down a wrong path. It shifts my focus in thinking about managing results. We can only focus on the inputs. It is a trap to try and control outcomes. It leads to amplification of noise. This is an important insight for me.
He is very sick but takes the time to meet with us. He is talking about the green curve and the red curve. He talks about the amazing results from just cutting multi-tasking. The impact that multi-tasking has on human ability to focus. He is thinking more deeply about the impact of the current paradigm on people. This is a shift in emphasis for me. I have been very focused on understanding TOC as a science of flow. I realize that the power of TOC goes beyond the mechanics of flow. This is a direction I am still exploring.
Each visit was brief. Every interaction packed with meaning. Truly a remarkable genius. I am very fortunate to have met him. I count my blessings. His mark on me is indelible.
Clarke Ching, UK/New Zealand
Just over Twenty years ago I read a book review in long dead computer magazine. I’ve no idea what the book was called but the reviewer didn’t like it and he seemed to have run out of enthusiasm – and words – because he ended his column with a passing comment that went something like this, “If that’s not your sort of thing, can I suggest you track down a book that we wouldn’t normally cover in a magazine like this. It’s a novel. It’s called “The Goal”. It’s about a a factory manager who has to figure out how to save his factory from being closed down. No, I know that doesn’t sound very interesting, but it’s a fast read, and I not only enjoyed it, I also learnt a lot while reading it. If you’ve got time I suggest you track it down.”
That’s the moment my obsession with Eli’s work began. I hadn’t read The Goal yet but I just knew I had to track down a copy and read it. And so I did. I was living in Wellington, New Zealand, at the time. Mobile phones and the internet were in their early days, so I wandered downstairs to where my phone was wired in, then called around all of the local book shops. None of the mainstream shops had even heard of it. I kept working my way through the book shops until I managed to find what was probably the city’s only copy in Victoria University’s book shop. I read the book over the weekend and that was it – I was hooked. My life irreversibly changed direction that weekend and, now, over twenty years later, my brain works differently (better), I am cleverer and more capable than I ever expected, all because of Eli Goldratt, his simple ideas and, of course, his many friends and colleagues who helped polish and spread them.
In 2010 I spent an hour chatting with Eli via Skype for my podcast. Wendy took his photo while we chatted.
Whenever I look at that photo I feel privileged to have spent 20 years with his words and ideas, and an hour chatting with him, but I also feel sad that I never got to spend more time with him. I wonder what Eli would have done next. The photo also makes me smile, though, since it reminds of a passing comment he wrote in one if the email letters he sent out following the publication of his GSP sessions. He started the letter saying that he’d been distracted from writing the email because he’d been playing video games. It’s nice to remember that the man I idolised was an ordinary fellow, like the rest of us, who had a family, and a PC and who played computer games when he knew he should have been working. I like that.
Twenty years have passed and I’m back living in Wellington now. Last week I visited Professor Vicky Mabin at Victoria University’s business school. She teaches TOC there. After I left her office, I wandered by the university’s book shop and noted it currently has 2 dozen copies of The Goal sitting on the shelves waiting for her next batch of students. That made me smile even more.
My privilage to work with Eli. Goldratt House, Ben Atarot, June 2010
My last picture with Eli, 11.06. 2010 on the beach of Tel Aviv
Kathy Suerken, USA
TOC for Education
I believe that our TOCfE conference in April did indeed memorialize Eli both in word and deed.
Kathryn Leishman, Australia
I first read The Goal in 1987 when I joined Ashridge Management College to teach and consult in operations management. The subject was based around TOC. I met Eli Goldratt for the first time about a year later. It was a privilege to be part of the development team, including Alex Knight and Oded Cohen, altering the Jonah Program from a production focussed course into initially one suitable for service operations. Over the course of two to three years the major evolution was into a program teaching the use of the Thinking Processes to initiate significant change in an organisation. 1992 saw me move to Hong Kong and light the spark which my colleague William Law has developed into TOC in China. Next stop New Zealand and Australia where I was living when I was asked “we’ve had some interest from India, you are closest, can you follow up”. Just a few weeks later Ravi Gilani had met my challenge of organising a seminar and the big adventure in India started. Eli made his first trip to India to speak at a conference organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry in 1999. We built up a great network of local consultants. When the Viable Vision initiative for enterprise wide improvement took off, India was a significant success with a number of large respected companies signing on. Eli became a frequent visitor to clients in India. With his PhD and practical outlook, he fit right in with the senior management and owners there. Eli made his only trip to Australia in 2006 saying “Kati, why do you make me fly so far?” Eli was a reluctant tourist though Biti and Wendy did insist on some essential sightseeing in the far corners of the world. I miss him.
Eli with Kath, Wendy, Sarita and her assistant at the Taj Mahal, India in 1999. He agreed to the trip as long as we discussed business in the car there and back.
USA, New Heaven, 1997
Eli with Kath, Limor and Kathy on his 50th birthday. Eli did not usually wear any other colour shirt than white. He was given the red one at his party in New Haven.
Eli, Biti, Stacy, Ravi and Cheenu in Chennai, India, 2004. Ravi Gilani founded Goldratt India. Cheenu Srinivasamurthy is Eli’s publisher in India.
At the launch of the Viable Vision seminars in Chennai, India, 2004.
Lighting the flame with Kiran Kothekar and Ravi Gilani.
An airport bookshop book signing opportunity, Chennai, India, 2004:
Eli was delighted to see The Goal on sale in a bookshop in Chennai airport, featured in the display. He offered to sign a few copies. The amazed bookshop owner quickly found an entire box of books for the author signing.
Eli and Biti in Sydney, Australia in 2006. There for Viable Vision seminars. And seeing a few of the sights.
Andrew Kay, Australia
Like many of you have already have stated, having Eli Goldratt enter your life was a life changing moment; and for me one that is constantly evolving the more I realize the depth and breadth of Eli’s teachings – a giant amongst giants.
Eli has given rise to so many other great TOC people I am so privileged to be part of this community, a vanguard for change not just in the way we manage business but in the way we help ourselves and others achieve a meaningful life. I stand in awe. I have so much to be grateful to Eli for his vision, his passion, his insight and generosity. He lives on, his light shining bright.
This is my story…
For me it all began in late 2000. After a few years “consulting”, a colleague recommended reading The Goal. Why should I read this book I asked, and he replied because your thinking is the same, it’s you! and you would relate to it!
Eli’s message resonated. I too am a scientist (human geography and systems). What I read fitted like a hand in a glove to my way of thinking!! Elation and jubilation – no kidding! The impact was like drawing back the curtains flooding the room with bright morning sunlight. Welcome to a new day, a new future.
Throughout my career I worked in systems, regional and urban systems, information systems and corporate organisational and delivery systems. Flows, interdependencies, bottlenecks, order vs chaos, harmony vs disharmony dynamic equilibrium and politics everywhere. I was alone, innocent and naive, bright eyed and eager to share my whole systems perspective to my superiors. They dwelled in other worlds.
This is what I had been looking for. Finding the curtains was serendipity. Finding the light on the other side was Eli.
Suddenly, I no longer had to be an employee or “consultant” with everything that entails. I joined a small vibrant TOC consultancy in 2001 and began my journey of learning, not just the theory but also the knowhow to implement solutions together with becoming proficient in the Logical Thinking process tools. We had very many successful implementations.
Along rolled 2006 and Eli came to Australia on his Viable Vision tour down under organized by Dr. Lisa Lang and Kath Leishman (and we helped a bit). During a break I met Eli face to face for the first time. He greeted me with a warm smile and said hello. I was thrilled and a little bit nervous. I introduced myself and said something about my journey so far and about our successes with our implementations and how TOC had made such an impact.
I got a wrap across my knuckles from Eli!!! He asked in earnest “How long before these successes begin to decline?” “How are you sustaining their ever flourishing growth?” “What are you doing to get them on the Red Curve?” “Andrew you need to be implementing Viable Vision”. Oops – it was a Viable Vision Conference after all. And soon after I was enrolled in the Goldratt Schools Viable Vision program with Alan Leader, Phil Viljoen and Eli Schragenheim. The photo of Eli and me comes from that conference and that is Kelvyn Youngman in the background.
From this point in time I made it my mission to go to every TOCICO conference thereafter. On my first conference 2007, I exclaimed to Carol Ptak that I felt like a kid in a candy shop. Such was my joy. Eli’s 2 day professional upgrade and new knowledge sessions were inspiring, energizing and often very challenging in a very positive sense. I was in a new theatre, once again wide-eyed and eager to learn even more. In a later conference I approached Eli after one of his sessions and told him about my curtains and his light on the other side, the impact of his teachings and passion not just for me but for the world. He put his arm around me and smiled, we walked together and I don’t remember the rest. I just felt I belonged.
In 2011, Eli left us. For many he was a very close friend. I too was deeply saddened. As I sat in the audience at the TOCICO conference two things dawned on me. First, I became so present to the wonderful talent of so many others in the room. There is so much light – just look around. The luminosity of Eli had blinded me to seeing the many other shining lights. When Lisa Scheinkopf took to the lecturn for the two days she became the voice for us all. I was once again in awe and eternally indebted to her grace and goodness in making that a very special moment in time.
And the second, it was the realization that Eli’s last book The Choice, is Eli’s answer to his last question to Alex Rogo in his first book The Goal. There is an elegant symmetry to this like most of Eli’s work.
In memory to Eli, thank you!
Rami Kallir, Israel
Ryoma Shiratsuchi, Japan
I met Dr. Eli Goldratt in person only once. It was in Miami, January 2008 when I attended the facilitator training for CCPM Webcast program.
I started my TOC journey by implementing CCPM into our bridge design business in 2004 and was lucky to know closely Oded Cohen, who at that time was the international director of Goldratt Schoos. He suggested that I should participate in the event.
I was with Oded at the restaurant in the hotel where the training program was to be held. Suddenly Eli came in. Oded stood up to talk to him.
They had a small talk and Eli looked at me and approached. He gave me a hug so gently and said with a big smile “You are gifted.”
Right in front of me, there was the very man who wrote “The Goal” and the great thinker! And he was talking to me!! It was unbelievable. It felt as if time slowed down. I was totally stuck and could not say anything.
Since then, I have been working as a TOC consultant. I always ask myself whether I keep up with Eli’s words.
Andy Watt, UK
I first met Eli in 1998 or 1999, when he was touring the UK promoting one of his books I was captivated and in awe.
The logic was impeccably, personally I loved his style and the way he at that time attacked cost accounting and the slayed sacred cows. I was lucky enough in 2000 to be invited by Martin Powell and Oded Cohen to Join Goldratt in the UK and in the summer of 2000 I met him again at the AGI conference. Again I was star-struck and I also wondered what I had joined as he had so many people following him around all the time. Listening in to the conversations he was happy to converse yet very direct and demanding.
Since that summer I met him regularly and one of the things I still remember vividly was when myself and my business partner at the time thought we had invited a “new way” to uncover assumptions on the cloud and wrote to him – he rebuked us in the nicest possible way that he had written this down in 1997!
I was lucky enough to be invited to his house for discussions, I also managed to get him to go round a shop floor for the first time in many years at Bentley Motors.
For me though I think my experience working closely on developing the content S&T sums everything up. Eli gave us some questions to use to develop the S&T from. We worked with a few clients as guinea pigs and over time changed the questions. After around the fifth iteration we realised we had ended up with the exact same questions we had started with!
Just today I gave a presentation at a conference where I explained the logic which is as sound today as it was then. I feel honoured to have had personal discussions with him, which I have found both fascinating and enlightening and I would be lying if I did not admit that I have copied (sometimes word for word) what Eli said. As they say imitation is the highest form of flattery.
Christina Cheng, Singapore
I cannot start to express the significant impact of Eli’s work on the lives of many underprivileged and their families in Singapore up to today. His generosity in sharing his knowledge has brought hope to many where there was none. Never in their wildest dreams would they have imagined that they would have an opportunity to stand on the shoulders of such a giant. It was truly my honour and privilege to have known him.
11 June 2017, Tribute to Eli in the Goldratt House, Bene Atarot, Israel
Our sincere appreciation to the Goldratt family and Goldratt Consulting for the outstanding hospitality for the Tribute day.
Visiting Eli’s grave for the memorial service.
In the lobby of the Goldratt House, Bene Atarot, Israel