Podcast #269 – Brian MacNeice & James Bowen, “Powerhouse” Book, Toyota, Mayo


Joining me for Episode #269 are Brian MacNeice & James Bowen, co-authors of the recently released book Powerhouse: Insider Accounts into the World's Top High-performance Organizations. They are founders of the international Kotinos Partners consultancy.

In this episode, we talk about the book and take a deeper dive into two of the organizations they profiled: Toyota and Mayo Clinic. I think it's always interesting to see what people outside of our “Lean community” see when they study Toyota. They describe how “continuous improvement is at the heart of Toyota's high-performance model.”

And, as somebody committed to healthcare improvement, I'm always curious to learn lessons from organizations like Mayo Clinic. The authors write about a key driver of the Mayo Clinic's success being its “commitment to collaborative medicine.”

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For a link to this episode, refer people to www.leanblog.org/269.

Topics for this episode:

  • Introduce yourselves and your careers/backgrounds
  • What led to the writing of Powerhouse?
  • What are some of the key aspects of high-performance organizations?
  • What did you learn about in studying Toyota? Can you frame their success in the four themes from the chapter?
    1. Vision and challenge
    2. Performance through problem solving
    3. Continuous, dynamic, broad-based improvement
    4. Teams of people driving and owning performance
  • What did you learn in studying Mayo Clinic, in particular about teamwork and collaboration?
    1. The needs of the patient come first – isn't is sort of funny that different healthcare organizations brag about “patient-centered care?” – what else could it be?
    2. Their model of rapid diffusion… similar idea to yokoten at Toyota?
  • What other organizations are featured in the book? (see below)
  • How can people learn more about the book? Their website.

For earlier episodes of my podcast, visit the main Podcast page, which includes information on how to subscribe via RSS, through Android apps, or via Apple Podcasts.  You can also subscribe and listen via Stitcher.

Thanks for listening!

More About the Book:

The 12 principles that guide high-performance organizations, each of which is illustrated by a case study in POWERHOUSE, include:

Ambition Grameen Bank's ambition to eliminate poverty has opened up new avenues for innovation.

Purpose At Doctors Without Borders, the power of purpose inspires people to work impossibly long hours in dangerous conditions.

Measures Southwest Airlines mobilizes its workforce around “measures that matter” – on-time performance, customer satisfaction, and return on capital.

Standards High standards are implicit in the US Marine Corp's values of honor, courage and commitment.

Gap At the Curtis Institute of Music, the performance gap between students is kept small by setting consequences for good and bad performance.

Decisions A hallmark of the Finnish state school system is providing people autonomy for decision making.

Governance Tata Group has unified its diverse group of companies under a single set of governance processes.

Engagement The leadership team at the St. Louis Cardinals invests enormous time and effort in engaging fans, staff, and suppliers.

Resilience Russia's Mariinsky Theatre (Kirov Ballet) has maintained its core standards of excellence in the face of changing cultural tastes.

Feedback The New Zealand All Blacks' feedback-rich culture encourages players to be critical of their own play as well as that of teammates.

Teamwork A key driver of the Mayo Clinic's success is its commitment to collaborative medicine.

Improvement Continuous improvement is at the heart of Toyota's high-performance model.

POWERHOUSE provides a four-pillar approach to developing high-performance:

  • Plan Establishing and maintaining a vision for the organization
  • Priorities Establishing short-term, organization-wide focus and milestones for achieving progress
  • People Defining a behavioral code for the organization
  • Process Designing the organizational structures and processes to achieve the vision

Videos About the Book

Their website: http://www.theperformancepowerhouse.com/

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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.


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