Podcast #357 — Dr. Michael Conroy on Lean as a Chief Medical Officer

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Joining me today for episode #357 is Michael Conroy, M.D., the Chief Medical Officer of Sutter Medical Group in northern California.

Mike was previously the Medical Director of the Lean Promotion Office for the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and he was in that role when we first met about a decade ago. We collaborated on some Lean workshop training material for him to deliver to other physicians, through my role at Catalysis at the time.

In today's episode, we'll talk about how he was first exposed to Lean, we'll take a few metaphorical elevator rides to talk about how Lean benefits patients and physicians, and shifting from Lean as tools or events to being a way of thinking and a common operating system for an organization.

Mike is board certified in Internal Medicine and is a Fellow in the American College of Physicians. After medical school at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, he did his residency at Virginia Mason Medical Center where he worked with Dr. Gary Kaplan, a well-known Lean leader who is now CEO of that system. Small world!


Streaming Player:



For a link to this episode, refer people to www.leanblog.org/357.

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

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Questions, Topics, Quotes, and Links:

  • Please tell us about your background – and medical career
  • How did you first exposed to Lean?
    • Exposure to management or P.I. in any form in med school?
  • What was appealing or interesting?
    • Any concerns or skepticism at first?
  • Why Lean?
    • For patients?
    • For physicians?
  • What's your elevator speech about Lean if another MD asks?
  • Does being “great at medicine” mean you'll be great as a leader?
  • Can you talk a bit about your involvement in the Healthcare Value Network?
  • Leader Standard Work
  • True North
  • “How are you running your business daily?”

Thanks for listening!


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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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