It’s Not Luck by Eliyahu Goldratt

by Paul Simister on June 15, 2011

I read “It’s Not Luck” when it was first published in 1994, I read it several times since and unfortunately I still think it’s  a disappointing book.

It's Not Luck by Eliyahu Goldratt

It's Not Luck book cover

I loved “The Goal” by Eli Goldratt.

It is an insightful business book which revealed simple and powerful ideas through a fast paced and engaging story. It brought the Theory of Constraints to the world and challenged some of the new ideas coming out to right the ills of 1980s/1990s accounting.
It’s Not Luck” is a pale shadow of it’s famous predecessor.

And here’s why.

It’s Not Luck Book Review

First, this book is by Eli Goldratt and not Eli Goldratt and Jeff Cox who wrote the goal together.

It is clear that Goldratt is the genius who has developed the Theory of Constraints but Cox must have been the one who provided the compelling writing style which kept you turning page after page until the book was finished.

I’ve told the story before about when I bought The Goal on a Saturday morning, I finished it on Sunday night, gave it to my Operations Director on Monday morning and by 7:00 am Tuesday, we were discussing how we could apply the ideas after he’d stopped up most of the night until he’d read it too.

That’s how good The Goal is!

In comparison it has taken me about two months to read “It’s Not Luck” the last time I did.

It’s Not Luck Is Another Story With Alex Rogo

The story form is still there and it still focuses on the hero of The Goal, Alex Rogo who has since been promoted and has responsibility for three struggling businesses put up for sale by a group desperate to generate cash and strengthen their balance sheet.

Attention moves from operations to the market and why customers don’t buy as it introduces the Theory of Constraints thinking processes.

The strength of The Goal was the ideas and the imagery (e.g. Herbie and the other scouts walking through the forest) were crystal clear. Easy to understand and to remember.

The Thinking Processes are more complicated.

It’s Not Luck – The Theory Of Constraints Thinking Processes

It’s Not Luck is crying out for a text book style section which let’s you go back and read up on the concept again if you don’t understand before moving on. It’s not there and there isn’t even an index if you want to check the meaning of an “evaporating cloud” or a “future reality tree”.

I found the terminology confusing and difficult to remember.

The TOC Thinking Processes feel powerful – and I know some people swear by them – but the book doesn’t give you enough guidance on how to apply them. That adds to the frustration.

Since I last read It’s Not Luck, I have delved into the thinking processes much deeper, through Rich Schefren’s course on the Guided Profit System and Lisa Scheinkopf’s book, “Think For A Change” which is excellent.

In “It’s Not Luck”, I thought the story gets in the way of the business lessons while in “The Goal”, the story made the ideas seem even more important and relevant.

This is the book which put me off The Theory Of Constraints combined with a bad experience of a TOC consultant in a firm I used to work for. However I do keep getting drawn back to the Theory of Constraints as a way to focus on the key problem which is stopping a business from reaching its goal.

My Review Rating For It’s Not Luck by Elihayu Goldratt

It seems wrong to criticise It’s Not Luck in the week that the author, Eli Goldratt has died.

If you loved The Goal and you want to know more about the Theory Of Constraints and how the constraints can lie outside of your business, then “It’s Not Luck” is worth a read, even if you may not be entirely satisfied.Read it and then go straight onto Lisa Scheinkopf’s book, “Think For A Change”.

If you have heard of the Theory Of Constraints and want to understand more, then start with The Goal. Even if you don’t have a manufacturing business, my advice is to start with The Goal.

I am very surprised by the overall positive stance taken by reviewers of on “It’s Not Luck”. To date 48 reviews, 22 at five stars and 15 at four stars.

These reviewers are clearly finding much deeper content than I did.

I do wonder whether this is because The Goal attracted production/operations people and stuck it up accountants and finance people.

It’s Not Luck goes further and dishes out criticism to Big Money and the financial markets and solves the “how to sell more ” problem for overpaid and under-worked sales and marketing executives.

Just a thought.

Buying It’s Not Luck

If you want to buy It’s Not Luck you can pick up a copy at or (compensated affiliate links).

Take a look at the reviews and see if it appeals but if you haven’t read The Goal, I urge you to start there.

Have You Read It’s Not Luck?

If you have read “It’s Not Luck”, what did you think?

Do you agree with me that this book is over-rated or as some as the Amazon reviewers claim, it is even better than The Goal?

Have you used the Theory of Constraints Thinking Processes introduced in It’s Not Luck and if so, how did you find them?

Paul Simister is a business strategy coach who helps small business owners to profit from differentiating their businesses, by being distinctive in the eyes of their customers and standing out in a crowded marketplace…. in other words, by building a business to be proud of.

You too can move past your profit tipping point (free report) by answering the seven big questions of business success (mp3).

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ian Brodie July 18, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Hi Paul,

I quite like It’s Not Luck.

Like you, I read the Goal first, and then read INL shortly afterwards.

Agreed – it’s not as good as The Goal, or as well written.

And let’s be frank: the Goal changed the world. At least a little bit. it introduced a brand new way of thinking.

But I think the good thing with INL is that it shows that the thinking processes aren’t just for manufacturing – they’re more general. TOC in many ways has been pigeonholed as a manufacturing methodology rather than a thinking system. And INL at least tries to break away from that.



Paul Simister July 19, 2011 at 6:02 am

I suspect that it is a book that divides opinions. I agree completely that it did a good job of taking the idea that a) there are constraints and b) they need to be exploited off the shop floor and into the boardroom.

I was disappointed because I didn’t think the story element for It’s Not Luck was as strong so it didn’t hook me in and I found the TOC thinking processes difficult to grasp from the story. |The book was Lisa Scheinkopf is very good and I wish I’d gone straight from INL to it.


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