Changing the Equation

Greetings.  A fascinating article by Chico Harlan in Sunday’s Washington Post reports on a startling discovery…that school children in Japan actually love school lunches and their parents routinely ask schools to share their recipes.  But what makes the story even more amazing is the fact that school lunches in Japan are extremely healthy, nutritious, and made from scratch each day in every school…using mostly fresh and locally grown ingredients.  It’s a far cry from the frozen pizzas, french fries, chicken nuggets, fried burgers, and other “savory” treats that fill many American school cafeteria lunch lines.  As a result, Japan not only has one of the lowest childhood obesity rates in the world but also the longest life expectancy of any nation except Monaco.

So it stands to reason that the U.S. might want to take a page from the Japanese school lunch “cookbook” in our not-so-successful efforts to improve the health and well-being of our young people.  Yet, for some odd reason, neither our schools nor the large food and food service companies that play a big role in school meals seem particularly interested in changing the equation.  Maybe because it would force them to rethink their business models and their commitment to health.  And it suggests that our kids are being held hostage by a lack of innovation and openness to the wisdom of strangers in other parts of the world.  Wisdom that could improve not only health, but also school performance.

And it begs the question of how open you and your company or organization are to new ideas that are half a world away.  Ideas that could challenge you to make your business and its offerings way more healthy and valuable to the customers you serve no matter what industry you operate in.  And that might help you to stand out from the crowd in ways that really matter.

We win in business and in life when we choose to embrace the simple genius of others. And when we make the health of those we serve our absolute highest priority.


Competing With Yourself

Greetings.  Amid all of the excitement about the new iPhone 5, it is interesting to think about the creation of the original iPhone.  Launched in 2007, it became one of the most remarkably successful technology products in history–with each new version setting sales records that dazzle the imagination.  In fact, within an hour of taking orders, Apple announced that it had sold out its initial inventory of the iPhone 5.

But an even more fascinating story involves the logic behind creating this product.  A logic that was driven in large part by the desire to create an offering that would "kill" its equally impressive and successful iPod before any of Apple's competitors did.  Because it was clear to the team at Apple that someone was going to figure out how to combine a music and content player with a smartphone.     

To learn more, click here to read Farhad Manjoo's article which appeared earlier this week in Slate and was reprinted in Sunday's edition of the Washington Post. Then think about whether it is time to reinvent your offerings or even your entire business in a bold and compelling way–before someone else does.  Because that might be the only way to survive and prosper.


We win in business and in life when we anticipate the need to change. And when we do it brilliantly before anyone else.

Cheers and have an inventive week ahead!