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Management / Strategy

Challenge Yourself and What You Know

By Kathie McBroom
Synergy Business Group
The Strategic Minute

Being strategic is constantly challenging yourself and what you know.

Strategic planning/thinking is an opportunity to engage in free thinking and challenge yourself and what you believe. Serving your customers requires constant innovation, and innovation comes from unconstrained, free thinking. Self limiting thoughts are the enemy of strategic breakthrough initiatives. Unconstrained, free thinking comes from questioning fundamental assumptions about your products or services. Below is “The Lesson of the Square Watermelon” and this speaks to the power of strategic unconstrained, free thinking.

The Lesson of the Square Watermelon
Japanese grocery stores had a problem. They are much smaller than their US counterparts and therefore don't have room to waste. Watermelons, big and round, wasted a lot of space. Most people would simply tell the grocery stores that watermelons grow round and there is nothing that can be done about it, but some Japanese farmers took a different approach. If the supermarkets wanted a square watermelon they asked themselves, "How can we provide one?" It wasn't long before they invented the square watermelon. The solution to the problem of round watermelons wasn't nearly as difficult to solve for those who didn't assume the problem was impossible to begin with and simply asked how it could be done. It turns out that all you need to do is place them into a square box when they are growing and the watermelon will take on the shape of the box.


This made the grocery stores happy and had the added benefit that it was much easier and cost effective to ship the watermelons. Consumers loved square watermelons because they took less space in their refrigerators which are much smaller than those in the United States. As a result the square watermelons were sold at a premium price.


The square watermelon story is a great example of engaging in free thinking and challenging yourself and what you believe to be true.