Greetings. Last Saturday was the first "World Prematurity Awareness Day"–a day intended to focus public attention on the global problem of premature births. While I typically believe that we have too many special days commemorating too many not-so-special things, this one is important for a couple of reasons.
First, we need to do a better job of giving mothers and babies a chance to live full and healthy lives. Each year more than 13 million babies–or roughly 10% of all births–around the world are born prematurely. Of these, over a million will die, and several million more will have significant life challenges as a result of their early birth. And many mothers of premature babies will, by virtue of having little or no prenatal care, face physical and psychological challenges as well.
And, while we tend to think of premature births as being primarily a health issue in developing countries, it is also a significant challenge here in the U.S. where an even higher percentage of babies–about 13%–are born too early. It is a challenge that will require greater education, improved access to quality prenatal care, and a concerted effort to provide real support to mothers–especially very young expectant mothers.
Second, there is a very powerful business connection or at least an important idea triggered by the notion of prematurity. All too often many of the best ideas in our companies and organizations never get their chance to come to fruition. Instead, they fail to receive the resources and support in their earliest stages of growth and development that would enable their initiators to achieve their full potential. And, when they are launched by some of our newest and youngest employees, this lack of nurturing and success often limits the likelihood that they will continue to work on innovative opportunities that could support ongoing business success.
All because we don't always make innovation and innovators a clear priority. And because we don't appreciate the pre-birth needs of ideas filled with promise.
We win in business and in life when we give people and their creations the support they need to grow, flourish, and make a lasting difference.