A parable on sushi and solving problems

The Japanese love fresh fish. It’s crucial to good sushi. The big problem is that, for decades, the waters close to Japan have not held many fish. The solution? Well, first the fishing companies made fishing boats bigger and sent them further. The new problem: The further the fishermen went, the longer it took to bring in the fish. But long trips meant un-fresh fish and bad tasting sushi. Bad news.
Cue freezers on boats. Magic, you might say - freeze the fish at sea and you can send boats as far as you want for as long as you want. Not quite. It turns out the Japanese know their sushi, and could taste the difference between fresh and frozen. Needless to say, fresh is best. So, frozen fish fetched low prices and the problem remained.

For their next trick the fishing companies installed fish tanks on boats. Genius. Again, not quite. Cramming fish into tanks, fin to fin, meant unhappy fish. After a little thrashing around, they stopped moving. Unhappy fish returned to shore alive, but dull and lacklustre. What’s more, Japanese consumers could tell by the taste. Unhappy fish = unfresh fish = bad tasting sushi (all over again).

So how did Japanese fishing companies solve this problem? How did they get fresh-tasting fish to Japan? If you were consulting the fish industry, what would you recommend? Something flash, novel and blue-sky? Helipads on boats, to fly the fish back? Fish-filled torpedoes?

Actually, it was far more simple. Keep the tanks, use sharks. With one small shark in each fish tank the fishing companies managed to keep the fish on their toes. Okay, so the shark eats a few fish, but most of the fish arrive lively and alert. Result - the fish are fresh because they have been challenged.

Humans are a bit like the fish in this story, we often find it easier to fall into common patterns of thinking – group-think. We stop questioning the purpose of our lives and forget that we are the authors of our own destiny. We end up like bad sushi – people can tell.
Brought to you by The Big Philosophical Questions: Why can't we solve big problems? - Quora


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