Nun and the Bureaucrat

Nun and the Bureaucrat

Louis Savary and Clare Crawford-Mason

How they found an unlikely cure for America's Sick Hospitals

ISBN: 978-10977946105

Published: January 2006

Pages: 268

Publisher: Lean Enterprise Institute


Price: £12.50

Discount: 20% on 10+ copies


Nun and the Bureaucrat


Many hospital administrators, physicians, and nurses know four facts:

  • that most American hospitals are sick;
  • that they are crippled by inadequate and outdated management practices, unnecessary duplication of services, and astounding waste;
  • that hospitals generate many avoidable, often deadly, mistakes—including countless “near misses”; and
  • that it is in hospitals where the turnaround in healthcare costs and safety must begin.


Great problems require great solutions, and great solutions start with great ideas. The Nun and the Bureaucrat and the accompanying DVD (the PBS documentary Good News…How Hospitals Heal Themselves) tell the story of a great idea. The book and documentary explain how two hospital systems adapted two concepts—“systems thinking” and the Toyota Production System—from a manufacturing environment to improve activities in over 60 hospitals. It is a story of a continuous improvement journey, told in the words of the doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators who traveled that journey and changed the way they viewed their work. By seeing patient care and hospital services as a whole rather than as an aggregate of separate parts, they were able to significantly improve patient safety, save lives, reduce costs, and increase staff satisfaction. And by adapting ideas from the seemingly unrelated auto industry, the people in this book and DVD learned to use the mind-set and tools behind the Toyota Production System to recognize and eliminate the non-value-creating steps in their processes. By focusing intently on satisfying the customer/patient, they developed an unusual and successful solution to one of America’s most pressing domestic problems.

This 268-page book and one-hour DVD set is designed and priced to be used as a resource at all levels of a healthcare organization. It is uniquely suited to inspire and instruct an entire organization to create a single vision of a new system designed around the patient. Just as importantly, it shows how everyone—from the CEO to the newest department hire—can help make that system better every single day.

Both the book and DVD were created by CC-M Productions, who were responsible for one of the most-watched documentaries in U.S. history, If Japan Can, Why Can’t We? (1980). This landmark 1980 NBC white paper introduced Dr. W. Edwards Deming to an American audience and is often cited as the catalyst for the U.S. quality revolution. Good News ... How Hospitals Heal Themselves is written and hosted by Lloyd Dobyns, the Peabody Medal-winning journalist who played the same role in If Japan Can, Why Can't We.

People Also Purchased

  • Making Hospitals Work

    Making Hospitals Work

    Marc Baker, Ian Taylor and Alan Mitchell


    How to improve patient care while saving everyone's time and hospitals' resources

  • On the Mend

    On the Mend

    John Toussaint, Roger Gerard and Emily Adams


    Revolutionizing Healthcare to Save Lives and Transform the Industry