From tiny seeds …. the power of the unintended outcome

In 1809 a schoolgirl, Mary Ann Brailsford, planted a seed. It grew into an apple tree in the garden of the cottage.

In 1846 Matthew Bramley bought the cottage and liked the fruit from the tree. In 1856 a nurseryman, Henry Merryweather, took the first graft from this tree, grew the grafted trees on and began to offer them for sale.

In 1893 The Royal Horticultural Society awarded “Bramley’s Seedling” a First Class Certificate

So, how exactly is responsible for the Bramley apple? Nowadays the Bramley variety delivers over 70,000 tonnes of apples annually. It’s an amazing story of growth, literally, from the smallest seed.

But was it ever in the mind of Mary Ann Brailsford? Without her planting the seed, it wouldn’t have come about.

Or was it in the chance acquisition of this particular cottage with this particular tree by Matthew Bramley? Or in his knowing of a good fruit when he found one?

Or in the skill of the horticulturalist Henry Merryweather?

Or in all of this?

In a complex and connected world it isn’t easy to spot the origin of many innovations .., Sure, there’s often a named inventor, or an innovator who seizes the idea at the right moment – and this is important work, making the idea real, bringing it to those who need it …

But it’s not the whole story … As Steve Johnson says “chance favours the connected mind”. In a complex word, alert connection pays off.

So ask yourself, how does my leadership show lively curiosity about connections that might be useful in addressing an issue we’ve been wrestling with? How does my team, my organisation support and nurture the juicy fruit that might be hidden in the chance connections lying like seeds in your business?