Published on: April 8, 2014by Michael Sansolo
The forces of change today hit everywhere - from retail to autos to software to board games. And you don’t have to look far to find issues that businesses need to spend time considering.
Let’s start with one of the first business games we all play as children: Monopoly. Truth be told, I’ve never much liked the game. I grew up with a sister who was older, taller, stronger and smarter than me, which meant that Monopoly was simply a disaster. She’d always win big and obnoxiously.
I’m betting my house wasn’t the only place where the game ended with the board, houses and hotels getting kicked.
Yet Monopoly is schooling us again. Hasbro, now the game’s owner, recently made news with the most modern of moves for its aged game. Hasbro was well aware that many Monopoly players have their own house rules, passing through generations and spreading out.
Rather than fight against these rogue rules, Hasbro has embraced them, creating a mechanism for Monopoly players to help codify their house rules and share them with others. It’s an incredible example of a company understanding how the world is changing and racing out front to lead the change.
In a similar vein, it’s time for a rare shout out to Microsoft for a similar move and one that is far more impactful in terms of business. Recently, Microsoft announced it was making the still-dominant Office suite of programs available for tablets. In fact, the programs are available as free apps.
Think about that: rather than cling to the dying notion that desktops and laptops own the future, Microsoft accepted reality and moved with it. Not an easy decision, but if Office has a future, Microsoft just made it more possible.
Sadly, not everyone understands the kinds of creative thinking that today’s world requires. Contrast what Microsoft and Monopoly are doing with the on-going news stories of car dealers fighting the future in New Jersey, Texas, and, no doubt, elsewhere soon.
The car dealers are concerned that Tesla sells its vehicles without dealer showrooms, and has been pushing legislation that prohibits the direct sale of cars. Tesla is supposed to be a fabulous ride. In fact, it’s rated the best car in the US by Consumer Reports. Yet Tesla isn’t for everyone. Its price is far too high and, as a fully electric car, its range is somewhat limited.
Obviously, what concerns the dealers is simply that you can buy it without a dealership. It’s a concern that the entire retail food industry might want to follow given the growing specter of Amazon.com as a formidable competitor.
Consider the contrasting points of view: Monopoly and Microsoft clearly see the world’s they used to control changing on them. And while it might have taken years in both cases, the two companies seem to recognize the new rules of the road and are looking for ways to get ahead of changes that are happening anyhow. In Microsoft’s case, this shift will certainly impact its business model, yet the company seems to understand this may simply be the new reality of business.
The auto dealers should pay attention. Car buying remains far too complex and confusing, so maybe the Tesla model presents a new path to the future. Maybe we are coming to a time where we buy cars by looking on line, assembling our wish list of options with clear price lists, transparency and no more “meetings with the manager.”
Instead of outlawing the future, the car dealers might be thinking about how to win that very same future and how to position themselves to win.
After all, no one—not even Hasbro—truly owns a monopoly or Monopoly.
Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available by clicking here .
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