Seeing beyond the obvious

Often, we change things based on what we see in front of us, or based on perceptions of what we feel is in front of us.

It may be that our sales channels are bringing in less than 12 months ago; so we change the sales team or manager.

Or, our customers are leaving in numbers that are scary; so we change the customer service team or manager.

The problem is, often what we see in front of us is a very small part of what’s happening behind the visual.

Our sales team may be bringing in the same sales, if not more, but economic fluctuations and inflation are resulting in lower numbers. Or customers aren’t leaving; they’re moving to a different part of the product line, but still with the company.

Just because we see something doesn’t mean we see everything. Take Nintendo, for example.

The Nintendo Guide to Sight

Five years ago, Nintendo were struggling. Where they had once (arguably) been the most dominant force in video games on the planet, they were now drifting in third place behind Sony and Microsoft, with their Playstation and Xbox platforms respectively.

The Nintendo 64 had failed to live up to the success of Nintendo’s previous console, the monster success that was the Super NES.

While no-one could doubt the gameply genius of titles like Super Mario 64 and Goldeneye, the new generation of gamers were all about the graphics – something Sony and Microsoft had in abundance. Something Nintendo’s 64-bit system couldn’t muster.

Now, many companies might walk away at that point – Sega certainly did, when they pulled out of the video game console market in 2001 and became just a game developer instead, due to the huge success of Sony’s original PlayStation taking a massive amount of market share away from Sega.

But Nintendo were built of stronger stuff, and had eyes that saw more than just decreased market share and the possibility of failure. And it was to be Nintendo’s competitors’ strengths (ultra-realism through graphics and online play) that would become Nintendo’s key weapon in their comeback.

Real or Real Good

Due to the increasingly photo-realistic graphics that the likes of Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 could provide, parents became concerned about the effect this might have on their younger kids.

The governing body of video games was also becoming concerned with the amount of negative press these new games were getting. Kids were becoming lazy, since they could play online with their friends, and this was contributing to a new generation of obese children, which was obviously a health issue and one that was drawing more questions than the violent and realistic nature of some games.

While Microsoft and Sony defended their industry and products – after all, who wants to lose a slice of the billions being generated in revenue? – Nintendo saw an opportunity for something different.

Instead of defending the lazy gamer idea, they embraced it head-on.

In a stroke of genius, Nintendo’s fortunes were about to take a massive turn for the better. The result of their vision? The Nintendo Wii, and Wii Fit.

They stayed away from super realistic graphics, and kept the family-friendly look Nintendo has always been known for. They made games for everyone; not just the hardcore gamer. They made it cheap; $250 instead of $400. And they made it part of you.

Instead of being tethered by a joystick, the Wii controller essentially made you the controller. Using a sensor that scanned you and fed your details into the Wii, you could now move your arms, and your character’s arms would move. You could bowl like you would in the bowling alley, and your character would.

By making games that were sensor-based, Nintendo brought the whole family together and off the sofa. Games like Wii Sports and Wii Fit were deliberate in their intent – get the gamer active while having fun.

The result? This countered concerns of parents and press at the same time, and made the Wii a huge success.

Vision is a Two Way Thing

Nintendo could have blamed sales and numbers on their competitors. They could have said they were suffering because they were being tarred by the same “too realistic” brush that Microsoft and Sony were. They could have blamed their engineers for not having more realistic graphics.

But instead, they took a deeper down look and saw more than the easy answers that were in front of them. They knew better than to accept what we first think, and to see if there’s another way.

Because of that, they saw what others could not see, and changed video game history in the process.

Sometimes we make changes based on what we see. But sometimes we’re not actually seeing anything at all, except what we want, or are told, to see. And that benefits no-one.

Want to succeed? Look deeper – because you cannot change what you do not see.

image: Green Idea Factory

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19 Comments on "Vision Is a Two Way Thing"

2 years 10 months ago

@kmjs2002 RT VIP HUG!

2 years 10 months ago

Well ‘ain’t this a kick in the head’?? I’ve been working on a new marketing program and have been struggling with one of the elements. I just read this post and BAM – just got some clarity. Thanks for that!
As a side note about the gaming stuff – my 8 year-old son knows nothing about any gaming programs except for Wii. He plays over at a neighbor’s house and is relentless with me about buying him one (I’ve said no and now he says he’s going to save his money to buy it himself). Makes me wonder if his generation will be more into the gaming programs where you’re the controller and Xbox/Playstation may be the ones who need to be on the watch for the future vision of the gaming industry.

2 years 10 months ago

 @penneyfox I wouldn’t be surprised, Penney. If you look at the new Samsung TV that s a complete social and gaming hub, based on hand gestures for controlling, it’s clear to see that gamification and all it includes is the way we’re moving. Scary thing, technology! ;-)

2 years 10 months ago

@DenVan @dannybrown Ha!

2 years 10 months ago

@design58 it all begins with awareness :-)

2 years 10 months ago

@JayneMCox it all begins with awareness :-) < Absolutely and even deeper being aware of more than the obvious :)

Andrea T.H.W.
2 years 10 months ago

Might it be that Nintendo owners are, well, just plain intelligent? And wise? Or not so quick-money driven? Probably they just don’t belong to those businesses which would outsource everything for a bunch of bucks firing everyone except top managers. Kudos to Nintendo.

2 years 10 months ago

 @Andrea H. | The Hypnotism Weekly Hehe, I’m not sure they felt wise after laying down $250 for the N64 when it came out, to see Nintendo drop it to $150 a couple of weeks later to combat the PlayStation… ;-)
Your point about keeping loyal is a good one – it’s why I liked SEGA and Nintendo, as they kept faith with the teams that didn’t always produce the hits, but went for quality and user experience instead.
Mind you, SEGA isn’t in the hardware business anymore, so what do I know..? ;-)

2 years 10 months ago

G’Day Danny, 
It’s so easy to become swept up by the trendy word or phrase. “Branding,” Benchmarking,” “Best Practice,” “Vision” or whatever old idea that reappears in fancy dress. And it’s even easier to find someone else to blame when you screw up.
Doesn’t alter the reality.
“nothing is more important than the proper execution of the fundamentals” and “defence wins the big ones.” Just ask the Mavs.
As I’ve ben known to quietly remind a few hardy souls; “marketing isn’t everything , but everything is marketing.”
I’m always fascinated when a big player gets into real trouble–see Kodak, Borders and others in recent times–that the analysts and gurus always find a whole lot of what I call MBA reasons for the failure. No one ever says, “They got their marketing wrong.”……..which they invariably have.
That’s when I turn to Mark Twain for guidance. “It’s not what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for certain that just aint so.” I suspect that Mr C was a closet Celt!.
Adds to the fun
. Best Wishes

2 years 10 months ago

 @Leon You know what makes the Kodak situation even more ironic, mate? The ex-CMO that’s currently doing the professional speaking rounds and book deals is the guy that oversaw the worst period in their life for profits and share drops.
He ignored the digital camera revolution that was happening, and Kodak paid the heaviest of prices. And yet he still sees himself as a marketing wunderkid.
Yeah, right…
Cheers, mate!

2 years 10 months ago

Hi Danny
“…sometimes we’re not actually seeing anything at all, except what we want, or are told, to see.”
Reminds me of…
“If all you have in life is a hammer, everything in life looks like a nail”.

2 years 10 months ago

 @wmwebdes Exactly, mate. It’s all in the detail.

Steven Hourston
2 years 10 months ago

I love the way this post prompts us to reflect on our own situation.

Am I close enough to my customers?
Am I trailing behind their evolving needs or am I helping them to find new and better solutions?
What metrics may give me an early warning that my services are becoming less compelling?
What’s happening in the wider world that may present new opportunities or threats?

Easy questions to answer in hindsight, but incredibly tough to get right in the “heat” of our day to day work.

I’m in favour of experimenting, testing new ideas and seeing how customers respond.

Thanks for such a thought provoking post Danny.

2 years 10 months ago

 @Steven Hourston I think that’s the key thing, mate, the willingness to experiment. we can stay safe and enjoy whatever that brings; but it’s the ones willing to experiment that make the biggest difference, usually, and by doing so, meet the majority of everyone’s needs.

Branding and Advertising
2 years 10 months ago

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Julie | A Clear Sign
2 years 10 months ago

Oh!  This is dear to my heart, Danny.  First the subject matter (my sons are DS and Kinect fanatics), and that persistent unwillingness of companies I have worked for to really look at what’s going on.  Why so short sighted?  Why don’t they dig deep to see what is really going on?  Why not actually consider the insights that employees on the ground have?
That’s actually what I love about what I do now.  All of my clients are invested in their own growth, understanding, and have an intense willingness to fly free and do what they were meant to do.

2 years 10 months ago

 @Julie | A Clear Sign Kinect is awesome, isn’t it? :)
Love the approach you take with your clients – I’m a huge believer in offering them help where it’s clearly needed, but forever keeping in mind that having their own control is where the real results will come.
Cheers, Julie!

2 years 10 months ago

Nintendo did some pretty cool stuff with the 3DS too. I am a brand ambassador, but I would think it was cool regardless of that.
From the business perspective I see the challenge being trying to get people to spend a moment thinking about things instead of jumping at the first challenge.

2 years 10 months ago

 @TheJackB Agreed, mate, especially in the “act now, think later” mindset that social media and consumer ire seems to have brought to the fore.