Ryan McCormack’s Operational Excellence Mixtape: October 20th, 2023


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Insights about improvement, innovation, and leadership

Operational Excellence, Improvement, and Innovation

Bureaucracy is GROSS

Bureaucracy can creep in over the years and eventually consume your most valuable and finite resources – time. The solution? Get rid of stupid stuff (GROSS). Check out this case study of how one health system in Hawaii rooted out unnecessary bureaucracy to give time back to doctors and nurses to actually see patients.

Lead a Jailbreak From Your Old Processes

When you join a new company, especially an institution or large-scale organization, you will inevitably inherit some unwanted bureaucracy, obsolete policies and processes, and deep-seated inertia. Your job is to lead a jailbreak from the firm's prison of obsolete processes

The Case for Transformative Care

Despite its obvious pitfalls and ineffective incentives, most healthcare systems remain transactional and fee-for-service based. There was some inertia in the 2010s to move towards value-based care, but there was no systemic revolution. MDs Gordon and Chris Chen make the compelling case to move to transformative outcomes-based primary care, but I suspect the status quo will remain stubbornly rooted.

Radical Optionality for Operations

In the 1990's, much was made about operations as a competitive advantage through speed, efficiency, and scale. There were countless books on capabilities-based models and the rise of Lean and Six Sigma production methods to crush the competition with operational efficiencies. The digital revolution has put operations on the back burner for the last 15 years as physical scale became less of a competitive advantage. So what does it mean for operations to be a competitive advantage in an age of uncertainty? Resilience, flexibility, and radical optionality. Operations in an era of uncertainty

Creating a Culture of Improvement

Ground yourself in what you know about change management

With so much uncertainty, how can we best help people manage through change? By focusing on what we actually know about change management. How To Lead Change Effectively During Uncertainty.

A ‘near miss' and the age-old accountability debate

The NY Times shares a detailed account of a ‘near miss' between two airplanes in Austin, detailing several systemic factors contributing to the near-catastrophic event. Despite this analysis, the journalist makes the surprising decision to name the individual controller involved. Does this invite blame and misplace our rabid desire to ‘hold people accountable' to the operator? The comments section of this article highlights the longstanding debate in safety about how to improve safety. A Reddit thread from an air traffic controller related to this story is interesting as well.

Sustaining Organizational Change

Organizations are prone to finding a change method and sticking to it, even when it's not effective. Perhaps it's time to use a change questions approach. D. Lynn Kelly and John Shook have released a new book, Change Questions: A Playbook for Effective and Lasting Organizational Change to explore how to approach unique changes through questions. Railway Age recently interviewed Lynn Kelly about Change Questions

Added by Mark Graban

I also interviewed Lynn. Watch or listen here:


Here are some podcast recommendations from the last 30 days:

Why Meetings Suck and How to Fix Them – Adam Grant's Rethinking

Be the Leader Who Creates a Speak-Up Culture with Stephen Shedletzky – What's Next with Tiffani Bova

 How to Begin Leading Through Continuous Change, with David Rogers – Coaching for Leaders with Dave Stachowiak

 The Mistakes that Make Us with Mark Graban – Connecting the Dots 

Shane Parrish on Wisdom from Warren Buffett, Rules for Better Thinking, How to Reduce Blind Spots, The Dangers of Mental Models, and More – The Tim Ferris Show

 Chris Voss: How to Succeed at Hard Conversations – Huberman Lab

Coaching – Developing Self & Others

Listen here

CEOs of Fortune 500 companies have figured out why leaders should always listen first and speak last.

Macro or micro?

Micromanagers. We all hate them and swear we'd never act that way when given the chance. But then we're faced with a trust challenge and revert to controlling ways. Super-coach Katie Anderson invites us to explore how to become a macromanager.

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Ryan McCormack
Ryan is an operational excellence professional with over 18 years experience practicing continuous improvement in healthcare, insurance, food manufacturing, and aerospace. He is an avid student of the application of Lean principles in work and life to create measurably better value.


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