In a Perfect World

Abstract:In a recent interview for Quality Progress, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill talks about the problems and cures for the U.S. healthcare system, signs of the oncoming economic collapse that everyone ignored, and the government's resistance to quality thinking. O'Neill's professional career is proof that quality has a place in all aspects of society. He believes that relying on transparency, systems thinking, and the pursuit of the theoretical limit of perfect performance are key to organizational success. O'Neill's successes at Alcoa, in government, and presently in healthcare show that when organizations strive for perfection in everything they do, they don't have to settle for merely being "good." Sidebar articles describe O'Neill's successful policies at Alcoa, his conflicts with the Bush Administration, and his work to improve healthcare through the Pittsburgh Regional Health …

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The book by Suskind was wonderful. If Paul had remained Treasury Secretary, Cheney would have had to be reigned in, and the deficit would be much less, and Bush legacy might not be so negative.
--Mike Clayton, 10-09-2009

This is an excellent article. The ideal is something that I have been preaching for a long time. We are not perfect. We will, most of the time, fall short of perfect. However, knowing that allows us to improve targeting. Aim for 50%; be prepared to obtain 40%. Aim for 100%, and be rewarded with perfection or near-perfection. This is true in all aspects of life, but we're conditioned to say "easy does it," "take it easy," "all you need to do is pass," "only 51% of the vote is required." Therefore, only half-hearted efforts are applied, and we lose out on getting the most out of every single aspect of life.

--Walter D. Ince, 06-19-2009

Good. Not the usual!
--Larry George, 06-16-2009

Paul O'Neill is a great leader that practiced what he preached. I was blessed to have worked at Alcoa during his tenure. His vision of perfection through open identification of waste/errors and then using in the moment problem solving to eliminate waste was a life-changing experience for me. While I am no longer at Alcoa and Paul O'Neill retired nine years ago, I am still striving to follow Mr. O'Neill's example and continue to pursue perfection. Now that is GREAT leadership! Thank you Mr. O'Neill.
--Rich Kirchhoff, 06-16-2009

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