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.