Another Inspiring eBook — “Lasting Impact: Leaders Share Lessons from Paul H. O’Neill, Sr.” [Excerpt] > Value Capture, LLC

Mark Graban
3 min readDec 3, 2020


Republished from the Value Capture blog…

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Value Capture is excited to announce the release of our second free eBook in our “Habitual Excellence” series of publications. The new book is titled, “Lasting Impact: Leaders Share Lessons from Paul H. O’Neill, Sr.”

Today, December 4th, would have been the 85th birthday of Paul H. O’Neill, Sr., so we are releasing the book today to honor and remember him after his passing in April.

The leadership lessons that he taught are timeless. And our latest book, written by George Taninecz, is a collection of stories and reflections from leaders who learned from Mr. O’Neill. The book shows how these leadership practices and mindsets live on and will continue to be taught and passed on to others.

We hope that you’ll download the book. Feel free to share it with others.


New Approach to Leadership

Many leaders in all walks of life would be pleased to be remembered for a single leadership characteristic. Those who worked alongside O’Neill identify many ways in which he changed business leadership. They witnessed these revolutionary — yet for O’Neill routine — characteristics, and learned how to apply them in their own roles.

Respect for People

O’Neill led from a belief that people want to and can do great things, articulating his respect for people in a simple framework. He said that “in an organization that has the potential for greatness, it’s possible every day for every human being in that enterprise to say ‘yes’ to three questions without any reservations:”[1]

  • Am I treated with dignity and respect by everyone I encounter without regard to race, gender, rank, educational attainment, or any other distinguishing feature?
  • Am I given the tools, training, resources, encouragement, etc., to make a contribution to the organization that adds meaning to my life?
  • Am I recognized for that contribution by someone whose opinion matters to me?

Gary Kaplan, MD, Chairman and CEO of Virginia Mason Health System in Seattle, met O’Neill at an Institute for Healthcare Improvement event in December 2002, and they soon became good friends and colleagues. Dr. Kaplan has led Virginia Mason, the first healthcare provider to implement lean management principles throughout a hospital system and patient-care practices, for 21 years. “In many ways I was inspired by Paul’s deep respect for the frontline worker and a belief that a workplace be respectful and the worker be [able to] answer ‘yes’ to all three of his questions that he often asked.”

Dr. Kaplan embraced the questions as a foundation for respect for people, and they led him to implement mandatory respect-for-people training at Virginia Mason that all employees attended, including physicians, in 2011 and 2018. “A lot of physicians are enculturated the same as I was: the buck stops with you, you’re a solo actor, you’re to be respected, you’re on a pedestal. And that’s not what we need today… Today it’s about teamwork, collaboration, respectful interactions, empowering the frontlines, and skill/task alignment.”

The three questions posed by O’Neill also transformed Cliff Orme, President of International Hospital Corporation, a hospital investment and management company headquartered in Dallas that has built or acquired and successfully managed hospitals in Latin America. “The lesson I learned — and it changed me forever — was that every day, every worker at the hospital needs to be treated with respect.” After reciting the three questions, he adds, “These conditions are my responsibility. So I started preaching that message to the employees. And every time I did, I just saw their eyes light up, and they connected with me in a way that I’ve never connected with employees before.”

[1] “Paul O’Neill CEO of Alcoa, it’s all about safety,” YouTube, June 12, 2015.

Originally published at on December 3, 2020.



Mark Graban

Consultant, speaker, author, podcaster. Author @LeanHospitals & “Measures of Success.” Senior Advisor & investor @KaiNexus . Marketing @ValueCaptureLLC .