April 1st, 2013 by Gallagher John 1 Comment

Let’s get one thing straight…there are too many meetings.  We likely waste more time in meetings than any other work activity.  We often have the best intentions.  We envision our meetings looking like this:

good meeting

When really they look like this!!!:

sleepy meeting



bad meetings


Why do meetings more often than not, end this way?

Here are 5 meeting behaviors that lead to bad meetings, wasted time, and lost productivity:

1) They don’t start on time – Seems pretty simple, right?  A 10:00 meeting should start at…10:00?

2) They don’t end on time – You know this meeting…

3) They don’t have an agenda – Who called this meeting anyway?

4) They don’t have a purpose – And, why are we having this meeting??

5) You schedule  back to backall day long.  You know this one… You have meetings from 8-10, 10-12, 12-2, 2-4…In separate conference rooms…in separate buildings… REALLY?!!!!!

Can you imagine the day when these 5 behaviors don’t exist at your organization?  Can you imagine how productive you could be?  Maybe you could even go home on time… Just sayin’…



March 23rd, 2013 by Gallagher John 2 Comments

Driving around with my wife the other day, a squirrel darted out in front of the car.  I swerved repeatedly to avoid it and to no avail, ‘klunk’.  No more Nutty, the squirrel.  I grieved…for about 2 seconds… then my wife and I chuckled about the frantic nature of the squirrel just prior to his demise.  Of course, I asked, what leadership lesson is there to be learned?  Suddenly, I found myself in conversation with my wife about how different animals in the road and how they react are MUCH like the decision makers in organizations.

squirrel in road1) The squirrel:  This decision maker will drive you crazy.  You ask them for a decision and they simply don’t know which way to go, they talk in circles, and eventually will make a decision, but the outcome is often not a good one.


deer in road2) The deer:  This decision maker often just plows right through, not looking to see if there are oncoming obstacles.  They simply don’t have others’ interests at heart.  Their decision making is not stable on the surface as well, often slipping and falling, BUT they have influence.  They generally have someone following close behind to run right through.


turtle in road3) The turtle:  Can we get a decision already?  No matter how much we encourage and push, this decision maker takes their good old time.  They will get there eventually, but they are usually way past due!


possum in road4) The possum: Oh, this is one sneaky decision maker.  And, sometimes you’re not real sure if they are really in support of their own decision, or if it is dead on arrival… Be careful of the possum!



cow in road5) The cow: Oh, you can see this one coming a mile away.  But, the close you get to decision time, you KNOW that you won’t be able to get this one to budge.  They will stand firm and just dare you to try to get them to make a change.  Good luck here!



skunk in road 26) The skunk:  Do I REALLY need to explain this decision maker?  Whenever you see this one, just go the other way.  The outcome is rarely good and it takes a long time to recover from this decision maker!!




So, which of these decision makers to you resonate with in your organization?  




March 12th, 2013 by Gallagher John No Comments

In my current role as a Lean consultant, I am often asking others to change their work patterns.  I don’t have the ‘authority’ to get them to change.


Often, we as leaders are asked to take on an opportunity where we don’t necessarily have the authority to make all the decisions.  This could be in a project manager role, a support role from a central function, or even as a volunteer in the comomunity.  I believe that to be successful in a role like this, there are 4 must have atributes to achieve success:

1) A disciplined process – If you are asking others to change in a systematic way, yet they see that you are not organized and bring across a haphazard approach, it will be difficult to influence others.

2) Ownership – Clearly, those you are trying to influence must know that you also are bought into the solution.  It has to be a ‘we’ approach to completing a task, rather than a finger-pointing ‘you’ approach.

3) Continuous learning – To influence others, you need to be out front in terms of understanding the topic.  You need to stay up on the most recent trends on your topic, be aware of technology, and other important nodes of communication

4) PASSION for the topic – I believe this is one of the MOST important attributes.  What is your topic?  Whether it is eliminating waste in healthcare to achieve improved quality and reducing cost for the patient, or if it is how to build a rube goldberg machine, you must display passion for the work you are looking to complete or improve.

I am sure these aren’t the only attributes.  However, if you are trying to lead others without authority and aren’t succeeding as much as you would like, ask yourself how you are doing in the 4 attributes listed above.  You may need an adjustment!

What other attributes to you feel are important?  You can share by commenting below.



February 24th, 2013 by Gallagher John No Comments

I turned the TV on and heard the announcer proclaim, “they’re entering the final turn here at Daytona…”.  The next 5 seconds or so were just fascinating.

Can’t see the video?  CLICK HERE

Amazing that all of the drivers walked away from this and that more fans weren’t injured.  My brother and I chatted about the wreck this morning over coffee and noted a few lessons (and blessings!) about this event.

1) It’s not always about winning – Generally, after a driver wins a race like this, there is a long burnout and celebration in Victory Circle.  Not on this day.  Winner Tony Stewart was subdued after the race and said this: “So as much as we want to celebrate right now and as much as this is a big deal  to us, I’m more worried about the drivers and the fans that are in the stands  right now because that was … I could see it all in my mirror, and it didn’t  look good from where I was at.”

2) In times of turmoil, we still have a job to do – Despite the crash, the workers at the end did not have time to “gawk”.  From the safety responders to the officials at the finish line, they had work to do.  My brother noticed that the finish line workers didn’t flinch.  They were leading by example:

daytona crash 23) Always strive for perfection – NASCAR is a very safe sport.  All drivers walked away from this horrific crash, including Kyle Larson, whose front end was sheared off as parts(like the engine!) from his car ended up in the grandstand.  We were amazed to hear that ‘only’ a few fans were injured.  10 years ago, the outcome may have been different.  Continuous improvement in safety is important.

Did you see the finish live?  What went through your mind?  What other lessons are there to be learned?


February 10th, 2013 by Gallagher John 1 Comment

Basketball is an exciting sport.  It also provides great opportunities for leadership lessons.  Maybe none as big as the various teaching lessons in a recent 5 over time THRILLER when Notre Dame upended Louisville 104-101.

Can’t see the video in your browser?  CLICK HERE

I may talk about this game a few times on my blog in the upcoming weeks. Here are just a few of the teaching opportunities I observed:

1) It ain’t over til it’s over – Notre Dame trailed by 8 points with less than a minute left in the game.  Fans were leaving before the clock read 0:00.  I bet you were very disappointed when you got to your cars to beat the traffic and you heard the outcome on the radio. (Full disclosure.  I did not stay up for the end of the game, either.  Too late for me!  And, when I woke up to a text from my brother, I admit, I was disappointed that I had gone to sleep.)

2) There is no ‘I’ in Team – There was an individual on Louisville squad who, on several occasions at the end of the game, tried to take over by themselves and not utilize his teammates.

3) Always be ready – In a physical game with 5 overtimes, many players fouled out.  That means that many players who don’t get much playing time had to play at the end in critical moments.

4) How’s your attitude when you are not ‘out front’? – Garrick Sherman of Notre Dame had recently been relegated to bench duties.  In 7 of the previous 8 games, he had seen less than 5 minutes of action and in 4 of those, did not play at all!  In this game, he was one of Notre Dame’s leading scorers with 17 points — ALL minutes and points were in overtime.  He did not play in regulation.  If you stay positive, your opportunities will come and you will be MUCH more ready when the opportunity hits you.

Leaders, when you watch sports, especially your favorite teams, we sometimes miss the lessons.  Next time you watch a sporting event, tell me what you ‘see’ as a teaching opportunity.  You can use the comment field below for conversation.


January 20th, 2013 by Gallagher John No Comments

It’s Sunday morning.  Before heading off to church, its time for a good cup of coffee, watching last night’s DVR’d Saturday Night Live because I am too old to stay up that late, John Hagee yelling at me a bit AND, a facebook chat with my little’ brother Michael Gallagher.  Often, we chat over a cup of coffee and try to solve the world’s problems(or hopefully, at least 1 or 2 of our own!)… Today, I pinged him for a blog topic.  AND, he gave me a thought on our key-chain cards.

kroger card on keychainWe love these cards.  It only takes a few minutes at the register to sign up and there are all kinds of benefits to receive.  Why can’t we use these cards for some of the other challenges in our lives, though…?

  • Why can our grocery store keep count of my purchases on a key-chain card which then affords us the opportunity to save up to $1.00 per gallon of gas, yet my federal government can’t provide us an easier way to do our taxes?!
  • Why can our pharmacy use a key-chain card to send us an update of when our prescriptions may need to be refilled, yet our doctor’s office can’t keep track of when our last tetanus shot was????
  • Why can our fitness membership card (and the fitness place is owned by the Health System!) allow us to scan our key-chain card when going to work out, yet when we go the same doctor’s office owned by the same group they make us fill out the same stinking paperwork every time we go in and they STILL have the wrong address!!!?

There has to be easier ways, right?  We need another cup of coffee…

What’s your “key-chain card” that you couldn’t do without?  AND, what problem do you wish could be solved with a key-chain card?  You can comment by clicking on the Comment tab at the top of the post.


January 17th, 2013 by Gallagher John No Comments
I first wrote this post in November, 2009.  I really love this exercise and wanted to share it again with some recent stories to support it.  This week I had a chance to share this exercise with some friends that I work with.  I wanted to share it again with you.

Often, our society raises up popular people as models in their lives… And, then, we are let down.  Just today in the news were the stories of Lance Armstrong coming clean after lying for more than 10 years and a bizarre story about Manti Teo’s girlfriend who passed away, yet never existed. Sports athletes…actors…politicians…rarely leave a positive, lifelong effect on our lives.  Who does?


Take 5 minutes to answer the following 3 questions… NO GOOGLE…thats cheating!

1. Who are the 2012 top five wealthiest people in the world?

2. Who are the last five Golden Globe winners for best actress?

3. How about the last 5 Most Valuable Players of the American League in baseball?

How did you do?  Not really that easy, is it?  You might have gotten 1 in each caetegory.

Now, answer this question(I want you to WRITE the answer to this question!): Name 5 people who have had a positive difference on your entire LIFE?  My first 3 questions only go back 5 years, but if you are reading this blog post,  this question goes back just a bit farther…

Much easier, right?

And the point is…we tend to not remember POPULAR people, but we DO remember those who made a difference in our lives.

I want you to choose one on the your written list and tell them “Thank You”.  Write them a note(not an email or a text or a facebook message, a HAND WRITTEN note…oh, the pain!) and let them know that you appreciate them.    There was one person who commented on this post back in 2009, and he makes my list.  Stan Buck made an eternal difference in my life.  Stan passed away recently.  Don’t wait. Do it now.

Finally, I want you to ponder one more question about this exercise:  Who is going to write YOUR name on THEIR list?  If you can’t think of anyone immediately, then maybe you need to start making a difference in someone’s life in a postive way….TODAY.