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Change the Game

I hear or read things that fundamentally change the way I think. It doesn't happen often, but when it does - wow.

My last course for my MBA was a team simulation. We had to run a fictional shoe company where my team did all the tasks - decision making, finance, operations, marketing, etc. We then got judged in relation to our peers. Every week we got the results of where we stood, and had to make adjustments.

Full disclosure - my team did horribly. I can't remember if we finished last, but we were near the bottom regardless.

At one point, we were talking with the professor and really felt that we were unable to compete well because we had made mistakes and there was no viable lane to succeed. He then said:

"If you can't beat them at football, change the game to baseball".

What the hell did that mean? We were selling shoes, not playing a sport? But as we thought about it, the quote made perfect sense. We couldn't compete with anyone in the current spaces, so we had to find a new space. Even if that meant completely changing the game.

As I said, we didn't win, but we learned a valuable lesson. In most cases, you don't have as many boundaries as you think. Which means that sometimes to give yourself a chance, you've got to change the game. If you can't compete with a competitor's efficient operations, make the game about marketing.

You can define the game - so don't play the game you know you can't win.

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