Beyond Heroes

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ThedaCare Centre for Healthcare Value

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“Every healthcare system in the United States should master the ideas in this book and practice them every day. If they did, we would see a revolutionary improvement in medical care outcomes and massive cost reductions.”

–  Paul O’Neill, 72nd Secretary of the U.S. Treasury

Beyond Heroes explains how the ThedaCare Health System, based in Northeast Wisconsin, transformed their culture by redesigning their system of daily management.

Hospitals have long relied on heroics to save the day – on one brilliant nurse or physician to fix the problem at hand. The result is a lot of people rowing in opposite directions, putting safety and quality at risk while increasing costs. This is the story of an organization breaking that habit.

Beyond Heroes shows the reader, step by step, how ThedaCare teams developed their management system, using the stories of its doctors, nurses and administrators to illustrate. The book explores each of the eight essential components of the lean system:

  • Team Huddles
  • Managing to Established Standards
  • Problem Solving
  • Transparency
  • Advisory Teams
  • Scorecards
  • Standard Work for Leaders
  • Physician’s role in a Business Performance System

What you will learn about a lean management system:

  • Create and sustain a system of continuous improvement aligned with strategic goals
  • Cascade information effectively throughout the organization
  • Implement a system where employee coaching and mentoring can occur on a daily basis
  • Build standard work for executives in gemba to support daily continuous improvement

“Beyond Heroes is a practical and helpful guide for all leaders in healthcare. It fills a wide gap in the lean literature, and offers applicable steps for leaders no matter where they are in their improvement journey.”

Maureen Bisognano, President and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement

To promote the book, the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value has engaged the services of Dennis Welch of Articulate, to reach out to all major media outlets.  Dennis is leveraging his contacts with the Wall Street Journal, NPR, and MSNBC to share the details of the most copied management system in healthcare.  The author will be making many speaking engagements in support of the book during 2014 including the 5th Annual Lean Healthcare Transformation Summit, June 4-5, in Los Angeles.

This book is just one of many ways the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value is sharing information about a lean management system. Visit for additional information on workshops, site visits, white papers and other free resources.

Early Praise for Beyond Heroes

If you are in the midst of a lean transformation in any industry you must read this book! … Kim is a natural story teller and we feel the struggles, resolution, and great joys of success!

– Jeffrey K. Liker, Professor, University of Michigan and author of The Toyota Way

“Beyond Heroes outlines the leadership system necessary to achieve dramatic improvements in healthcare. … This book will help shape the healthcare leaders of tomorrow.”

– Patrick Conway, MD, MSc, quality improvement and health policy expert at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

“Beyond Heroes…. serves as a tremendously instructive guidebook on deployment of a Lean Management System as it demystifies abstract concepts through practical approaches, guidance, and real world examples.”

– Amir Dan Rubin, president and CEO of the Stanford Hospital & Clinics, Stanford University

“Lean success is critically dependent upon leadership developing a different approach to leading, one that is consistent with the principals/practices/and values of lean. Kim Barnas demonstrates exactly how to do that in Beyond Heroes.”

– George Koenigsaecker, president of Lean Investments LLC

More Praise for Beyond Heroes

“This book is essential reading for every executive who wishes to strengthen their lean transformation. It is deceptively simple, and amazingly powerful: respect and invest in your managers by creating a system that both sustains the gains of lean AND coaches managers to lead in a new way. Without the management system, lean is just another healthcare fad.”

– Kathryn Correia, president and CEO of HealthEast Care System

“Thank you Kim for creating such a great book! Clear, concise and practical you help any serious reader easily grasp many fundamental concepts and then, suggest possible implementation strategies. I took away more than 20 ‘pearls of wisdom’. A rare occurrence in one book, for which I am in your debt. Congratulations!”

– Michel Tetreault, MD, president and CEO of St. Boniface General Hospital

“Many people talk about lean management, but Kim Barnas is one of the few who have actually built a robust lean management system in healthcare. Beyond Heroes will be immeasurably useful to organizations that are looking to move beyond tools and projects to a culture that creates the best patient care and a far better workplace for healthcare professionals. This book is full of impactful stories and meaningful, practical advice that is grounded in the realities of healthcare, while making real the potential that every organization should be achieving. I’d strongly recommend this book to every healthcare leader – read it, talk about it, and put in the hard work required to make these meaningful changes happen.”

– Mark Graban, VP of Innovation and Improvement Services, KaiNexus

“Beyond Heroes hits that rare sweet spot between theory and case reports. This book is a clear path to high performance guided by well tested system design suggestions and illustrated by practical examples for the front lines. Readable, understandable, and if followed, transformational.”

– Jeff Thompson, MD, CEO at Gundersen Health System

“Beyond Heroes, A Lean Management System for Healthcare, should be required reading for any healthcare leader who has begun or is thinking of beginning the lean journey. Kim Barnas has done an excellent job of describing ThedaCare’s business performance system – the secret sauce that has helped make ThedaCare so successful. This book will be a valuable guide and resource for years to come.”

– Don Shilton, president & CEO of St. Mary’s General Hospital

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