Archive for the ‘Book review’ Category


January 28th, 2014 by John Gallagher No Comments



Over the holidays, I completed The Lean Turnaround – How Business Leaders Use Lean Principles to Create Value and Transform Their Company.  For the most part, it was a refresher for me in terms of Lean implementation as I have been directly involved in Lean transformation for the better part of 15+ years.  But, it was a refreshing refresher!

lean turnaround

There were lots of stories from the author’s Lean journey that resonated back to my days in manufacturing, as well as reiterated some of the things I currently work to communicate to leaders in Healthcare as a consultant for a Lean Transformation organization.  Things like: “Shifting from a tradtional to a Lean strategy is simple and straightforward.  The problem is that it is hard to do.”  So true.  Often, leaders are looking for that silver bullet to transform that organization… you know the one… it’s the magic pill that will help us to lose 35 pounds without exercising and being able to eat all that we want.  That’s right.  The silver bullet doesnt’t exist.  A Lean transformation is a multi-year effort.  The principles of a Lean transformation are fundamental:  Work to Takt time, One-piece flow, Standard work, Connect the customer to the work.  I especially liked the author’s experiences as I was familiar or knew some of the consultants he had worked with in the past.

Where I became intrigued and where my belief lies, though, was the last chapter.  “All companies, whether manufacturing or nonmanufacturing, are alike.  They are all composed of processes that, taken together, allow them to do what they do as a business.  In fact, even processes such as hiring, ordering, accounting, invoicing, and similar functions, are common to both types.”

This belief is what continues to drive me in Healthcare.  Clearly, the resistance is much higher in this environment, especially to the thought of standard work.  Associates consider themselves “experts” in their field, and I just don’t understand.  I mean how would I, right?

“John, you aren’t a doctor.  You don’t understand what is needed for me to do my work.” or… “John, we aren’t building cars or widgets.  We are treating people and they are all different.”  To an extent, I agree with both of those statements, AND… know that despite that, all companies are composed of processes full of waste that make their jobs harder, and make their customer (patient) experience difficult, at best.  As a patient, when was the last time you went to any doctor’s office and had your appointment start on time and the time the provider spent with you was greater than the time you spent sitting around waiting for something to happen?  Ask my son who just sat with me as he waited 40 minutes past the scheduled start time of his recent orthodontist appointment how good of an experience that was..

Well, I went away from the book review…,  but these thoughts are what the book triggered in me.  Lean transformation works in any industry.  I love doing what I do to teach that so that I can help our clients achieve their goals and somehow help our US Healthcare industry realize how messed up it really is.  Don’t even get me started on variation in how they provide care… That’s another book!  For now, I highly suggest The Lean Turnaround as a primer to Lean practitioner’s.  It was a thought-provoking read.

What industry do you know that would NOT benefit from a transformation of the wasteful processes currently in place? 


July 26th, 2013 by John Gallagher No Comments

Is it OK to be reading more than one book at a time?  I hope so because I have a few going.  I need to get through this list so I can jump into my wish list of about 10 other books!  My book reading has slowed a bit as I also try to stay up with about 15 blogs and follow several periodicals on Twitter.  THere is always something good to read.  I wanted to share with you  the books I am currently reading:

1)  runners worldI am training for my first Half Marathon in October.  Pretty excited and anxious about that, but I needed a plan.  The Runner’s World Big Book of Marathon and Half-Marathon training is a great resource.  I am reading this on my iPhone through iBooks.



mastering seven decisions2) I am reading Andy Andrews’ Mastering the Seven Decisions as a follow-up to The Traveler’s Gift.  It is a workbook of sorts that gives exercises in each chapter on how to deploy each of the seven decisions outlined in the Traveler’s Gift.



lean turnaround3) I am a big fan of Lean.  I am a Lean consultant, so I try to stay up with some of the new stuff that comes out on the topic.  The Lean Turnaround by Art Byrne has been a nice refresher on the true nuts and bolts of the challenges of implementing a Lean transformation from a Leadership perspective.  I have already taken a few tidbits and shared with clients and others.


Personal Development is important for me.  These are 3 books that help my development, all in different ways.

So, what are you reading right now?  Have you read any of the books I am currently reading?


June 12th, 2013 by John Gallagher No Comments

I have butterfly effectbeen wanting to read this book by Andy Andrews for a while.

The Butterfly Effect has a quote on the back that tells it all.  “Every single thing you do matters.  You have been created as one of a kind.  You have been created in order to make a difference.  You have within your power to change the world.”

Is it possible that a butterfly could flap its wings and be capable of starting a hurricane on the other side of the planet?  It does sound preposterous, but it was proven by physicists… But, that is NOT what the book is about.

There are 3 reasons I really liked this book:

1) It was a quick read.  I was able to flip through the book in about 15 minutes on an airplane.

2) I love the history references – The author tells the story of how one human being may have…well… I won’t give it away… But, it was a cool historic reference.

3) I appreciated and was challenged by the notion that I could have the power to change the world – I do believe that i was created for a purpose.  I need to stay aware that my actions at all times can impact individuals for a long time.  I do want to make a difference and realize that sometimes my words and behaviors have an impact when I don’t even know it.  Hopefully, more positive than negative, but definitely lasting.

I would recommend this book.  It does challenge how I think about my power to change the world, and I believe it would for you as well.

So, tell me… Do you feel you have the power to change the world with a single movement or word?  Why or why not?

BOOK REVIEW – UNACCOUNTABLE – What Hospitals Won’t Tell you…

April 29th, 2013 by Gallagher John 5 Comments

I just recently completed Unaccountable by Marty Makary. M.D..  The book was a gift and I was fascinated by this read.  The subtitle says it all:  “What Hospitals Won’t Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care”.


I have now worked in Health Care as a Lean consultant for about 3 years.  As I read through the book, I could certainly attach to some of the stories through my experiences as a consultant, as well as being a consumer of health care.  Fact is… the book could even be described as a bit disturbing.  Did you know:

  • Medical Mistakes are the fifth leading cause of death in the United States?
  • The number of patients killed by PREVENTABLE medical errors every year is equivalent to four jumbo jets crashing ever week?
  • In a typical doctor visit, the patient is interrupted after an average of just 8 seconds?
  • As many as 25 percent of all hospitalized patients will experience a preventable medical error of some kind?
  • There are fifteen hundred hospitals that administer a safety survey to their staff asking the question:”Would you have your operation at the hospital in which you work?” – Why isn’t this data available to you as a consumer?

These are just a few of the statistics exposed in the book.  I can imagine that the doctor and provider community may have been upset with Dr. Makary’s accounts described in the book.  I appreciate the sharing.

Reading books like this and experiencing poor health care are a few of the reasons that I chose to do what I currently do.  If the work I do in coaching and consulting with Health Care executives saves just one life in the long run, the challenges associated with the work are worth it.

What do you feel when you read some of the statistics above?  Comment and I may select you to receive a copy of the book.


September 6th, 2012 by Gallagher John No Comments

This summer, I completed The Big Miss by former Tiger Woods golf coach, Hank Haney.  Like many, I was curious about the Tiger Woods’ ‘story’ from his coach’s perspective.  When I read the book, though, I was fascinated by the challenges that Hank Haney faced in his years coaching Tiger Woods.  I found some of the challenges to be very similar to the journey I am on as an executive coach implementing Lean in Health Care.

I thought the author (and coach) did a good job detailing some of the approaches he used to get Tiger Woods, clearly the best and most polarizing figure in golf, to improve.  Here are 4 takeaways for me from the book to improve your coaching ability:

1) Help coachees see where they need to improve – Tiger Woods is the BEST golfer in the world.  How do you improve on that?  But, the fact is, we all need to get better because the competition is trying to close the gap.  If you are not getting better, than you are falling behind.

2) Help coachees develop a routine (standard work) – For Tiger, Hank Haney instilled the idea of “Nine Shots”.  This was a practice routine that gave Tiger a leg up on competition.

3) Help coachees develop a discipline of reflection – Self-reflection is an important discipline.  In coaching we must get those we coach to ask themselves “What is going well?” and “What could go better?”

4) Know when to listen – Often, the most valuable time in coaching is just listening.  Often, your coachee will systematically talk their way through a situation based on the previous 3 coaching techniques.  When this occurs, the student improves exponentially.

As a coach, you may not get the chance to coach the #1 golfer in the world one day, but you can have an impact on others.  Employ these 4 techniques and your impact will be greater.

The story of the complexities involved with being a part of Tiger Woods was a big part of the book sales.  The techniques that the coach employed are valuable tips from which you can learn

Have you had the chance to read the book?  What are your thoughts?