True Story: Funny Canadian Border Agent Asks About My Books


I'm back in Ontario again this week, giving three more short workshops about Healthcare Kaizen  at three different hospitals (after seven hospitals in five days last week). Last night, coming through customs at the Toronto airport, I was asked by the customs & immigration agent why I was in Canada — what follows is a true story.

Me: “For business.”

Agent: “What do you do?”

Me: “I'm an author, I'm here to give some presentations at hospitals.”

Agent: “What sort of books do you write?”

Me: “Books on healthcare quality improvement” (including Lean Hospitals, 2nd edition  that should be out this week, by the way).

So, then the agent says:

Agent: “You've piqued my interest…. that sounds like fiction!”

Me: “I assure you, it's nonfiction!”

And he let me into this fine country. It's too bad the agent has that perspective, as there's a lot of good quality improvement work taking place every day in Canadian healthcare (as there is back home and in other countries). There might still be a long way to go toward perfection, but there's improvement.

p.s. on the 2nd edition of Lean Hospitals – you can now peek inside the book using the Amazon “look inside” feature  or you can look via Google Books

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. Funny. In my experience, going through customs has never been fun, but I do understand the agent’s skepticism, though it may have been just a lame attempt at humor. At least he didn’t ask if you were going to sell the books in Canada – that may have gotten you a second interview, so to speak.


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