Throughput in Haiti

Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti on January 12, the immediate response of the US and other countries was remarkable. The US and others worked quickly to release the logjams keeping ships from docking and planes from landing. Stories of heroic efforts abound; however, how is it, that, despite the best efforts of the US and other countries it took the tiny country of Israel to turn on a dime? When crisis demanded urgency of response, why is it that some organizations, some nations, can literally move at the speed of need while others, with all good intentions, hit roadblocks?

On the Saturday following the earthquake in Haiti, Israel deftly and with clarity of purpose transported a virtual hospital from the other side of the world and set up a rescue effort the likes of which no one has been able to duplicate. Its technological leverage, efficiency and streamlined activities worked in sharp contrast to the complex strategies of the US and other countries. Everyone is to be commended, but Israel’s methods stand out.

CNN”s report compared America”s failure to be a major lifesaving force while Israelis came from “the other side of the world” to set up the impressive field hospital within four hours of their arrival in Haiti on Saturday.

Dr. Jennifer Furin of Harvard Medical School told CNN said that only Israel has managed to provide advanced assistance quickly.

“I”ve been here since Thursday; no one except the Israeli hospital has taken any of our patients,” said Furin. “It”s like another world here compared to the other hospitals. They have imaging… my God, they have [scanning] machines here, operating theaters, ventilators, monitoring. It”s just amazing.”

Asked why the Americans had yet to provide a similar level of service in Haiti, which is located at its back door, the doctor said, “It”s a frustrating thing that I really can”t explain.”

From my standpoint, it makes absolute sense. Israel knows what it takes to survive and has built a mindset and an infrastructure to focus purposefully on the streamlined movement of activities.  And to do that, they think in terms of throughput. When there is clear purpose and urgent need, throughput is the real priority and driver of strategy.

President Shimon Peres, spoke to his rescue team commending them for their efforts:

“The whole country is watching you every day and is concerned for your safety,” said Peres, adding that the team had demonstrated the pinnacle of the IDF”s ability and willingness to assist in the aftermath of disasters, wherever they occur.”

Though true, quite an understatement. It’s not only the willingness and concern of Israel that is to be commended, it’s how they do what they do with deftness and efficiency. Israel, having experienced a history of crises, e.g. the aftermath of suicide bombings, etc. has developed a mindset that assumes strategy, but moreover knows how to engage immediately and respond with clarity of purpose to achieve optimal throughput.

Organizations and leaders in the US and elsewhere would do well to realize that thinking throughput® is the only competitive advantage for 21st century realities. It has bypassed strategic planning as the critical tool and mindset. The realities of our world demand that we move today with the customer in mind, and at the “speed of need.”