Sometimes It’s Hip to Be Square

One of the unique examples we share in our creativity seminars and keynote presentations reflects the benefits of bench marking, Japanese innovation, watermelon, and continuous learning.

Japanese designers and engineers will be the first to admit that they aren’t the most creative people on earth. However, they have long been known for their exceptional ability to improve upon products and processes invented by others. They’ve been doing just that very successfully for decades. In doing so, they’ve enhanced quality, saved time and space, made products more useful, and lowered prices … therefore making them more saleable and desirable.

Over the years they’ve done this with electronics, medicine, automobiles, optical products, and a variety of other products. They’ve become so good at innovating just about everything that they’ve apparently decided to challenge Mother Nature.

They’ve now developed a square watermelon! It’s rather interesting that those attending our seminar and keynotes more often ask “Why?” before they ask “How?” Both questions are relatively easy to answer. Let’s start with “Why?”

  • There’s an obvious novelty value.
  • They make a great gift—just add a ribbon and you have a home-grown gift box.
  • On a more serious note, Japanese grocers have a serious space problem. They are a great deal smaller than their U.S. counterparts and must make every inch count.
  • A fat, round watermelon similar to those in the U.S. takes up a lot of room in small Japanese refrigerators and often sits awkwardly on the shelf.
  • The new shape allows more melons to be stacked and shipped by growers, providing greater cost-effectiveness.

As you can easily see, square watermelons make a lot of sense. Now let’s be honest. Most people, when confronted with the challenges mentioned above, would agree that square watermelons would be practical and solve a lot of problems. However, most of us would then point out that watermelons grow fat and round. End of discussion.

Apparently, the “innovative gene” within a few Japanese farmers allowed them to take a different approach. They reasoned that if grocers and shoppers wanted and need a square watermelon, they should find a way to create one. And they did.

After a great deal of research followed by much trial and error, they discovered that placing the young melons into square, tempered-glass cases while they were still on the vine forced them to take on the shape of the box. The square boxes allow sunlight to reach the melons and just happen to be the exact size of the typical Japanese refrigerator. This, of course, allows full-grown watermelons to fit conveniently and precisely onto refrigerator shelves.

Of course, there’s always a catch, and this is no exception. Each square watermelon costs about 10,000 yen—about $82 American. However, a regular watermelon in Japan will cost you anywhere from $15 to $25 each. It’s quite obvious, based on sales and continued demand, that many shoppers find this unique treat to be well worth the investment.

The lessons we can learn from this unique creation are many:

  1. Never assume something can’t be accomplished. Many believed we’d never send a man into space much less land him on the moon. In fact, many people thought the Wright Brothers to to be out of their minds to consider the fact that man would ever even leave the ground. Think about it.
  2. Question the things that we do on a regular basis simply because that’s the way they’ve always been done. If we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we always got! … and that’s NOT what we’re looking for.
  3. Think creatively. Everyone is creative, few realize it, and even fewer believe it. Research, benchmark, read, study, and ask in an effort to tap your creative juices. We have access to more information today than ever before. Place any word into Google and in a matter of seconds you will have access to more than a million references to that word. That’s just one of the many tools available to us. The catch is to use it.
  4. The greatest minds throughout history have genuinely believed that there was a better way to do just about everything … and they were determined to find it. Can you say the same, or are you easily discouraged?

Ask yourself the following question: “What today is impossible to do in your business … but, if it could be done, would fundamentally change what you do? Remember that what is impossible TODAY may very well be the NORM of tomorrow. And don’t hesitate as those who think it cannot be done will find themselves getting out of the way of those who are doing it!

Napoleon Hill once said: “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve!” I’m quite certain he was talking about square watermelon! Don’t you?

About Harry K. Jones

Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

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