How many of you have seen the story of the lessons of the square watermelon? It is difficult to trace the original author of the article but I have seen this several times on various blogs and websites.
The article does bring to mind my own experiences in providing solutions when I was a staff employee for large businesses. It is very relevant and provides a methodology and thinking that is critical to creating solutions to business questions or needs.
The story goes as follows; Japanese grocery stores had a problem, they are smaller and do not have large amounts of real estate. You would be hard pressed to find the large super stores that the U.S. has throughout the country. Watermelons took up a great deal of space, space that the Japanese grocery stores did not have. Most individuals would tell the stores that watermelons are round and there is nothing that can be done about it. But a few Japanese farmers asked the question, if stores want a square watermelon, How can we provide one?
The answer came from out of the box thinking….or shall we say into a box thinking. It turned out the solution was a simple one, grow the watermelon inside of a square box. When the watermelon was still small they were placed inside of a box and as they grew they took the shape of the square box.
The solution not only made the grocers happy but it made consumers happy. It became easier and cost effective for grocers to ship watermelons and consumers found that the square watermelons took less space in their refrigerators which are smaller than ones in the U.S.But if we look very carefully, there are lessons in the story and some simple takeaways that anyone can apply to any part of their lives, not just business.
Don’t assume: Because people have seen watermelons in only one shape they automatically assumed that you cannot make a square watermelon. How many things do we do in our lives because we assume that there is no other way to do it or that it is impossible to do it any other way? How many things could be accomplished in your business if you did not assume that they are impossible?
Question habits: The best way to deal with assumptions is to question your habits. Why are we doing it this way? What if….? How can we….? If we begin to question the reasons and processes behind what we do or what we carry out it is the first steps to finding a better solution or a creative solution.
Be creative: This takes some work. Some individuals don’t have time or don’t understand the creative process. Look at the question from all angles. In the story above, some people viewed the question as one of how to genetically grow a square watermelon. Don’t over think the question or solution and no matter how off the wall a thought for a solution may be throw it out there. How many people would have thought that placing a growing watermelon into a square box and letting it grow that way was way out there?
Look for a better way: You should always have a mind set of how can things be improved. Are there better options? Is there a better solution? Improvements and innovation cannot happen if you’re not always looking for better ways of doing things.
Impossibilities often aren’t: IF you assume something is impossible you will most likely not question it or question if there is a better way. This is the first road block that people usually run into. Yes, there will be trial and error and consistent learning. But never assume that anything is impossible.
As you can see, innovation and improvements come from never assuming that anything is impossible or that anything cannot be improved upon. Applying the above principles to any or all aspects of your life (business or personal) can constantly improve all aspects of your life.