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

Sign up for free weekly content

Subscribe to my newsletter and get a weekly email with the latest blog post, recommended reading, quick tips and more. I respect your privacy and will never spam you.

Alternatively, click here to subscribe to the RSS feed instead.