“I see the game differently than some guys. I’m always reading the next move.” – Draymond Green

“He just sees the game differently”. This headline jumped out at me, not because elite competitive sport is often a strong metaphor for business, really just this accolade to a professional sportsperson could easily be one of the greatest in business.

What defines the X factor in business, the Kogans, Molnars, Bezos, Bransons of this world is not doing it smarter, faster or even in a clever way. That helps of course but what really defines this individual is that they zig when others zag.

They don’t see the other players continue the sporting metaphor, they see the space between the players.

Thus the real strategy is born of those that see the game differently, not of the tactical process improvement or even the differentiation from competitive perspectives, rather the people who see the world of business not as a chessboard as much as a bus stop 6 stops further down the road.

Let’s think about these people and in particular some examples of people who have seen the game differently in retail over the years. This list includes people such as:

Hayley Barna & Katia Beauchamp: Co-Founders of Birchbox. They changed how we discover and obtain beauty products.

Jeff Bezos: Founder & CEO of Amazon. He changed how we buy products online and how quickly they are delivered.

Neil Blumenthal, David Gilboa, Andrew Hunt & Jeffrey Raider: Founders of Warby Parker. He changed what we pay for designer glasses by cutting out the middleman.

Sergey Brin & Larry Page: Founders of Google. They changed how we search.

Jennifer Fleiss & Jennifer Hyman: Co-Founders of Rent the Runway. They changed online dress retail by allowing customers to rent the apparel instead of buy it.

Ingvar Kamprad: Founder of IKEA. He changed our furniture shopping experience.

Pierre Omidyar: Founder of eBay. He changed consumer-to-consumer sales online.

Jack Ma: Founder of Alibaba. He saw the intersection of technology driving consumption

Frank Lowy: The Founder of Westfield shopping centres

There are plenty of more examples of these people who see the game differently and much has been written about their character, vision, resilience, commitment, drive, focus and so on but its more than that.

Read about the factors that separate us; intellect, creativity, perseverance, high curiosity etc and nothing especially stands out with perhaps one qualifying feature being the contemplation and talent to find the ‘Aha moment’.

Recognise the ‘Aha moments’ because they are often the genesis of real game-changing strategy and innovation,

Simply put, we progress not from seeing the game the same, rather in seeing the game differently.

Brian Walker is founder and CEO of Retail Doctor Group, a retail advisory and consultancy group and the Australian elected partner member of the global retail expert’s alliance Ebeltoft Group.

Have a look at previous articles written by the experts at Retail Doctor Group:

  1. Retail Doctor Group & Mindarc’s expert guide to implementing an effective “Click and Collect” model
  2. The DNA of the evolving retail space
  3. Smart Retailers gear up to thrive post-COVID