The Electrification Of Fruit (or Breaking Down Boundaries)

Banish boundariesWhilst standing in the shower I let my mind wander a little (well quite a bit actually) and it settled upon the electrification of fruit as a topic. I began to wonder what electrified fruit might look, smell and feel like. What functionality would it have, what consumer needs would it fulfill? My sensible, logical side then said ‘don’t be silly you can’t electrify fruit’. And it might be right but flip this on it’s head, what if fruit could supply electricity?

Many of us have at some time created a ‘potato clock’, a device powered by a potato. That will not save the energy problems that we have because it produces very little current but the subject of fruit & veg together with electricity is a very interesting space for ideas (bio mass etc).

This led me to thinking a little more seriously about assumptions and boundaries. Many people might assume that fruit and vegetables have no place mixing with electricity. Someone has created an arbitrary boundary there, a fence that says ‘do not enter’ to your brain. This might be a good idea but what if …?

Another interesting subject is that of stereotypes or categories. Do you remember when the EU first started meddling in food products? In Portugal they produced Carrot Marmalade. I’m sure that it is a fine product and the EU obviously thought so too. They had previously decreed that marmalade must be made from fruit and so redefined carrots as fruit rather than vegetables.

This arbitrary and silly categorisation has far reaching consequences but it is entirely un necessary. It now forces EU bureaucrats to think of the category of fruit as containing carrots whilst the category vegetables does not contain carrots. This might mean that carrot growers are treated as exactly as fruit growers or excluded from obtaining grants or subsidies aimed at farmers or vegetable growers.

How often does our categorisation of objects or behaviours prevent us from solving problems or taking a potentially advantageous course of action? Instead of being controlled by labels, we should focus on what works and what does not. Maybe one day we will electrify fruit, who knows? Until then, let us trample over the arbitrary boundaries that are created.



Examining Business Boundaries

Many business owners think of their business in terms of what they do on a daily basis e.g. farmers milk cows, printers print brochures and jewellers make jewellery. A better way of thinking about your business is to ask the question ‘what is it (of value) that I create and who helps me to do this?’ Any other person or business that helps you in terms of creating value, and hence money for your pocket, is in fact an extension of your business.


Problem Solving Through Boundary Relaxation

Boundary examinationIn business we often seem to be constrained by all sorts of things from statutory rules (red tape), availability of resources and even our own thinking. Sometimes we just make things far too complex.

I remember a time when I was at school (quite a while ago now) when I often ended up in detention after school. Often we sat staring at the wall waiting for detention to end (and sometime I used to take sweets from the jar in the head mistress’ office (but thats another story). Sometime we would, however, be left in the care of a teacher who tried to be too clever. One day we were asked to write an essay. ‘Can I write about a red London Bus?’ I asked. My friend has already been primed to ask about writing an essay all about a green London Bus (you can almost see what is coming can’t you?). The teacher agreed.

My essay started a little like the following:

Once upon a time there was a red London Bus. The red London Bus had four wheels and an engine. Now this red London Bus with four wheels an engine and a poster on the side was travelling down the road ….  

You can see how this would build into a story that would infuriate a teacher. Don’t forget there was a green version also!

A pair of infuriating schoolboys had simplified the rules surrounding essay writing for that particular occasion and we had written essays that conformed to the requirements. We had relaxed the boundaries and made life simple whilst the teacher had made some assumptions, he had not tested the ‘givens’, the rules that normally apply in these cases. He could (should) have given us a topic, made us create an essay plan and stipulated the length of the essay.

This was a little like a business transaction in which one side tries to test and possibly manipulate the apparent constraints upon them whilst the other party makes assumptions that are based on previous experiences.

So next time you have a tricky business issue to solve, try seeing if there is any ‘wriggle room’, any way that some of the boundaries can be stretched or even removed. It is often worthwhile trying a little boundary relaxation.


Challenging Boundaries The Banksy Way


Banksy challenging boundariesStreet artist Banksy is well known for challenging the establishment. Below is his take on PR and advertising. Whether you agree or not it should make you think.

People are taking the p**s out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.

You, however, are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity.

F*** that. Any advert in a public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.

You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don’t owe them any courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs. – Banksy


Does the light stay on when your refrigerator door is closed?


fridgeThis has always been a topic for debate amongst those propping up bar counters or for day dreaming types. How do you know what goes on inside your refrigerator when the door is shut? We all assume that the manufacturer has done their job correctly but you can not be sure, unless of course you climb inside (definitely not advised).

Not long ago I had a similar experience with my car. Like most people, I assumed that when I shut the doors and locked the car all of the interior lights  went out. Sadly this was not the case and the combination of the interior lights and the car alarm flattened the battery. The next time I went to the car it would not start.

I am not suggesting that we all  become obsessive and peer into our refrigerators or hang around parked cars waiting for lights to go out but I do believe that once in a while it is worth examining all of the things that we take for granted just to see if anything has changed. Maybe I will detect a faulty light switch once in a while but the implications in a business context are far more important.

How many times have we been told that a particular project or course of action is closed to us because of certain ‘givens’ that are accepted as variables that never change? Maybe a project costs too much, or the computers are not fast enough or the container ship takes too long to travel from China. But what happens when costs fall, computers become faster and container shipping times are slashed? Shouldn’t we periodically consider these things?

Our business environments change at different paces. Competitors react faster than governments and customer requirements even faster. We make assumptions at our peril, most things change at some point so we should be ready and be checking once in a while. Once we get used to doing this we can also avoid the other obstacles that get in our way. The only way to dodge the rocks being hurled at us is to be looking for them!!

So if you are the type that simply shuts the refrigerator door and forgets about what might be going on inside, just take a sneaky peek once in a while.

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