Inherent Simplicity preview

Eli Goldratt is in the process of writing another book, this one entitled Inherent Simplicity [Update: the book was renamed at publication to The Choice.] Rather than a fiction, it is a monograph set up as a (fictional) discussion between Goldratt and his daughter, Efrat.  I received a galley proof on the arrangement that I would tell people about it and offer to pass the same offer to more people.  So, if you would like to get a copy (free!), have a read and pass along your information to me.

For people who have been following Goldratt, the material in the book should sound very familiar, particularly the interspersed chapters of "letters to the community" that Goldratt uses in the book as examples of various elements of the discussion.  I felt that these were the weakest part of the monograph.  I much preferred the discussion format of the book, but I also see how the letters moved things forward in the discussion.

So, what is Inherent Simplicity?  It's what Goldratt has been professing throughout his business consulting career:  It's a deep understanding that is always a simple explanation to any seemingly intractable problem.  This leads one to use their intuition to find the core of the problem and develop a solution which both solves the immediate problem and doesn't create additional problems along the way.

Okay, but what did Goldratt spend 176 pages talking about?  Well, that was the nature of the conversation between Efrat and him.  Efrat doesn't get it, and the book is a means for helping her and the readers make the connections.  And in what I see as his classic style, he leads readers (and Efrat) through a series of discoveries about how people normally interact with problems.  Where does the discussion start? With a particular application of the TOC principles to business?  Nope.  With the statement that people want meaningful lives.

But there are some barriers, and this is the setup for the entire book.  What are the barriers and why are they either not barriers - or how can they be removed.

First, people assume the solution must be complex, because they feel the problem is complex.  But simplicity is not the opposite of complexity, in Goldratt's definition, rather it is a measure of how much difficulty is involved.  In a scientist's view, this is the degrees of freedom in the system.

Second, conflicts and obstacles are a fact of life, but people assume the best solution is a compromise - a compromise where someone comes out with less than they'd hoped.  Goldratt suggests that there are no real contradictions - that nature doesn't allow them.  "Nature is exceedingly simple."  He had an interesting discussion about how people tend to get so ingrained with their assumptions that they find it difficult to see them when they are in a conflict situation.  As a result, they see no option other than compromise.

There was an interesting item within this discussion that talked about why people and businesses tend to go for the easy solutions that have nothing to do with the core problems.  The difficulty of examining these assumptions is often so difficult that it leads people to believe problems cannot be solved.  As a result, they just go after the small things that have very little impact on the overall.

Third, along with being exceedingly simple, nature is harmonious with itself.  This leads Goldratt to the third barrier - that people have a tendency to blame one another for problems.  This builds on the previous two, but adds this other twist of our inclination to jump to the conclusion that a bad situation must be someone else's fault, rather than the natural reaction to various stimuli.  It's easier to assign blame than put in the effort to understand why people and the systems they operate behave the way they do.

There may be a fourth element / barrier for people reaching a full life, but I think this covers my current understanding of the book.  And it is one where the more I think and talk about it, the more (or less) I will admit to understanding it.  There are several other discussion elements of the book that I found interesting, but they all revolve around this idea of how to move from whatever the current reality to something bigger and brighter through the belief in Inherent Simplicity.

[Update minutes after posting] And if you are interested in talking with other people about the book, a discussion group has been created to do just that.  Just walk on over to the Inherent Simplicity group at Yahoo.  They've already started discussing the first couple chapters.

12 Comment(s)

Catus Lee Author Profile Page said:

Dear Jack,

May I know how I can get a copy of the book?

Thank you.

Nimmy said:

Sounds good and sounds like just what I need at the moment! Could I please have a copy? Thanks a million in advance. nirmala dot pal at gmail dot com

Brendan said:

Hi Jack,

Thanks very much for your thoughts. If you could, I would love to have a copy of the book - my e-mail address is my firstname.lastname at gmail.

Warm Regards,
Brendan Florez

Steven Mak said:

Dear Jack,

May I know can I have a copy too? tcmak AT
yahoo Dot com.

Thank you very much,

william Author Profile Page said:

hello,I'm a TOC fans (and a TOC consultant) from China.

I often read your blog,since I found it in google about 1 year ago. your blog is great.

could I please have a copy? thank you very much !my english is not very well,but I can read book (includ your blog)with dictionary.

my e-mail:

thanks again!

Amartya Author Profile Page said:

I have heard about the "Inherent Simplicity" and did a boit of reading around on the and reached to your blog from Google. It interests me, please let me know how I can get a copy.

my email:


Colin Woods said:

Hi Jack,
Enjoy the blog thank you. Would love know how I can get an advance copy of Goldratt's new book.
Thanks in advance,
Colin Woods

Jack Vinson Author Profile Page said:

I hope I've replied to everyone directly, but for those that haven't please ping me with your mailing address. And I cannot guarantee that people who live outside the USA will be able to get copies of the book.

Please contact me at JackVinson AT JackVinson DOT com.

Siva JV said:

Hi Jack,
Love your blog. Wondering if I can get a copy of Eli's new book. I live in Hyderabad,India. Please let me know. I can give you full mailing address, if you let me know your email id.

Thanks in advance.
Siva JV

Ray anthony said:

Hi jack,
I would like to obtain a copy of Goldratts book if possible please.

David said:

Jack, have you looked for the inherent simplicity behind "global warming"? I see lots of ideas and individual efforts, but almost all of them must be missing the point - they won't be impacting the constraint, so their efforts are essentially a waste of time. However, I don't know what that constraint is, nor how to identify it. Do you have any ideas yourself?

Jack Vinson Author Profile Page said:


This is something that goes to the core of some of Goldratt's ideas around the Thinking Processes. My friend Bill Brantley posted on this topic in July/August with several articles about "wicked problems" that were discussed at a TOC Odyssey training program he attended. Here's the last post in the series, where he suggests TOC alone isn't sufficient to solve the problems:

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