A farmer had two sons and a package of watermelon seeds. The package contained twelve seeds and cost $0.10. The farmer gave the package to his two sons who were to select their favorite seed. Both sons inspected and evaluated their options and selected their favorite.
The first son selected a fantastic looking seed. It was exceptionally large (the size of the nail on your ring finger). Its perfect teardrop shape barely reflected any light off its dark black surface. The second son’s selection was an equally impressive specimen of citrullus lanatus potential.
The first son was exceptionally proud of his seed. After all, it was a great looking seed. He showed his seed to some friends and soon word got out. People started talking about the seed and soon it generated quite a buzz. A local newspaper even came to interview the first son about how he was able to select such an exceptional seed.
The second son looked at his seed and something about it convinced him it was extraordinary as well. But after a moment of admiring it, he decided to plant it in the ground and made preparations with his dad’s farmhands to help tend and water it.
The first son asked his brother, “Why did you ruin your seed? Nobody has ever seen seeds like ours. Everyone is talking about mine. You put your seed in the ground and it will surely split when it sprouts. It might not even grow and then nobody is going to care.”
“That might be true,” the second brother replied. “But I trust Dad’s farmhands to take good care of it. I don’t know exactly how it’s going to turn out. But right now, it’s just a seed.”
At the end of the summer, the farmer took both of his sons to the market. The first son put his famous seed (which now had hundreds of Twitter followers) in his shirt pocket. The second son went to his garden and harvested a single large watermelon.
At the market, the second son sold one half of his watermelon for $3.00. He cut up the other half and carved out hundreds of new seeds, which he divided into packets and sold. He also decided to keep one package of seeds to plant again.
When the first son tried to sell his famous seed, he was reminded that seeds (even famous ones) are a dime a dozen; and was only offered a penny for it.
The moral of the story:
Ideas are the truly the seeds of innovation but at the conceptual stage they are of frightfully little value. And falling in love with your ideas may lead you to overvalue them. But when you allow an idea to evolve and transform into its full potential (even to the point that its unrecognizable from its original form) it can grow real value. The process of transforming an idea into a value producing innovation require adequate investments of time, resources, and the support of many others in addition to the inventor. And who knows? The fruits of your labor may even produce hundreds of new ideas containing a future generation of innovation potential!
image credit: Wendy Longo
David Detlefsen is a Product Development Innovation Specialist and an Instructor of Innovation and Risk Management in the MBA curriculum at the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. His skills include VHDl, Verilog, Product and Innovation Management/Development and Merchandising Analytics.