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Boston Marathon 2013 – Reflections

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Shook, John
4/16/2013

Dear friends,

In business, as in sports, we like to compete. We believe competing can benefit everyone. “Everyone” means everyone – not just the “winners.” Competing is a way for us to focus our energy, to focus our efforts on improving. That improvement usually comes a little at a time. Sometimes we experience breakthroughs while at other times we suffer steps backwards. But, that’s okay. We can still focus on moving forward, on making things better.  

Lean thinking and practice, too, entail competing. It goes without saying, surely, that we believe in doing so peacefully. But, more than that, we engage in competing via lean thinking in the firm belief that it is actually a vehicle for peace. Friends sometimes ask us why we try to make things better everywhere, including sometimes in countries that compete – often fiercely – with our own country, the United States.  Our reply is simple and clear: we are convinced that making things better for everyone makes things better … for everyone.

As you must know by now, a tragedy occurred yesterday at one of the world’s great competing events.  The finish line of the Boston Marathon is about two miles from us at LEI, across the river in Cambridge. It was a quiet day, with most of our team members out of the office. We contemplated walking over to the marathon to enjoy a late lunch while watching the slower runners complete the 26 miles. The slower runners, you may know, are often running to raise funds for charities. It was a beautiful day for running.

We decided to stay in the office. It was one of the occasions when busy-ness turned out to be a blessing. We are all fine. Our hearts go out to those who suffered and are suffering.

The city remains in shock. Our local emergency responders are still frantically treating the injured. Our friend Alice Lee of Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center reports that the emergency room there is hectic but not panicked – hours of training and preparation are paying their dividends. The workers – doctors, nurses, staff – are taking it all in stride.   

Thank you to all of you who have reached out to inquire how we are doing. We are, as usual, hard at work, trying to make things better. We trust the same is true for you.

John Shook

Chairman and CEO
Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc.
jshook@lean.org

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