Revisiting an Interview of Paul O’Neill, Sr. From 2011

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Welcome to Episode #45 of Habitual Excellence, presented by Value Capture.

Today’s episode is a bit different than our usual interviews and conversations. Today, we are republishing an interview that Mark Graban did in 2011 with the late Paul O’Neill Sr., the former non-executive chair for our firm. he was, of course, so much more than that, (CEO of Alcoa, United States Treasury Secretary, and more), as you’ll hear in this interview that originally appeared as Episode 124 of his Lean Blog Interviews podcast.

In summary, Mr. O'Neill talked about:

  • Leadership mindsets required for dramatic workplace safety and patient safety improvement, including a near 100% reduction in hospital-acquired infections at Pittsburgh's Allegheny General Hospital
  • Why the United States has accomplished “practically nothing” nationally since the famed 1999 Institute of Medicine report “To Err Is Human”
  • Why society's most lacking skill is “leadership”
  • Alternative ways of compensating patients who are harmed by the healthcare system while ensuring real improvements are made by learning from each problem
  • Why leaders in Washington D.C., at the time, should have shifted from “financial engineering” to visiting ThedaCare to learn about “the real way” we should improve health care.

You can also find a full transcript below on this page.

Please check out our free eBooks about the work and wisdom of Mr. O'Neill.


Quotes:

"I honestly think the skill shortage in our society, maybe in the world of civilized people, is real leadership."
"Having [habitual excellence leadership] is not about punishing or blaming people, but about using every single instance of anything gone wrong as a basis for organizational learning."
"I would urge Boards of Directors of health and medical care institutions, hospitals, and nursing homes to ensure the day-to-day operational leader is supportive of the idea of establishing theoretical limit goals for everything that goes on in their institutions."
"There are a whole lot of people who, I suppose, are leaders by designation. But I don't honestly know a lot of people who are leaders in the sense that they will articulate goals at what I call the 'theoretical limit' and then help their people to acquire and practice the skills that are necessary to what I call 'habitual excellence.'"

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