Announcing a New Book — A Playbook for Habitual Excellence: A Leader’s Roadmap from the Life and Work of Paul O’Neill


I'm very excited that one of the projects that I've been working on over the past few months has come to fruition.

It's an eBook, available as a free PDF or as a very inexpensive Kindle book, that collects the words and wisdom of the late, great Paul O'Neill (listen to my podcast with him here).

A Playbook for Habitual Excellence: A Leader's Roadmap from the Life and Work of Paul H. O'Neill Sr.

The book is collection of speech transcripts:

  • A speech given to UVA Health
  • A speech given at the 2013 Lean Healthcare Transformation Summit (I was in the audience for that)
  • A speech given to the IHI annual national forum
  • Invited testimony given to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee

The book also contains other content, including:

  • A foreword by Dr. John Toussaint
  • An introduction by Paul O'Neill, Jr.
  • A synopsis written by me

Again, you can get the PDF eBook for free here.

If you prefer, you can get the Kindle version by either:

Update: You can also buy it as a paperback for $9.99. All royalties are donated to one of Paul O'Neill's favorite causes, The Neighborhood Academy.

Thinking Back to the Summit

My colleague Helen Zak shared this photo with me recently from that 2013 Summityou can read my notes here.

Paul O'Neill asked the audience a question:

“How many of you work in an organization where 24 hours a day, you can go on the Internet, and you can see the OSHA recordable rate for your organization 24 hours a day, real time, and the Lost Workday Injury Rate for the people who work in your organization?”

How many people stood up? Not many.

Alcoa famously made this information available publicly on their website under Mr. O'Neill's leadership (and beyond). Sharing data (and stories using employee names internally) was one of the first steps in working to dramatically reduce these injuries.

The book is full of stories and wisdom from Mr. O'Neill — from his time leading Alcoa (and leading with safety as a pathway to “habitual excellence”) to his time as U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and his time influencing leaders in healthcare.

There are leadership lessons related to Lean, employee safety, and patient safety. It all starts with senior leadership — the direction they set for the organization and the leadership they provide.

I think the lessons here are pretty timeless. Mr. O'Neill has a very clear and consistent message across those speeches and remarks. Bill O'Rourke (who worked for Mr. O'Neill) referred to his approach as a “playbook.” Listen to my interview with Bill here in the “Habitual Excellence” podcast.

I'd love to see how this hypothesis would play out… if somebody were coming into a healthcare organization as the new CEO, what would happen if they followed Mr. O'Neill's playbook?

I hope you'll check out the book…

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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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