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When Bank of America announced in September 2011 that it would start charging a $5 monthly debit card fee, the public outcry was so intense that the bank soon rescinded the plan. But the damage was done: Account closings in the final months of 2011 increased 20% compared with the same period in 2010.

When Netflix implemented a 60% price increase in July 2011 for customers who both rented DVDs and streamed video, 800,000 users cancelled their service and the company’s market cap plummeted by more than 70%.

And when Marks & Spencer was targeted by irate consumers in 2008 for charging £2.00 more for bras with large cups, the British retailer initially defended the practice, pointing to the higher cost of goods. But as the complaint gained traction on social media, the company relented, implementing a “one price fits all” policy and offering a month long 25% discount on all bras.

All of these examples of Zero Sum Thinking were given as examples in this month’s Harvard Business Review. Shocking mistakes that made the companies look dumb.

It’s so easy to sit there and laugh at how silly these companies were, but let me suggest something, you are probably a Zero Sum Thinker. Yes you, I don’t mean the people in the office behind you. You, reading the screen right now. YOU!

As part of the VFQ Education product, we get to design hundreds of activities and challenges for our courses. One of the most controversial has always been the ‘Gone Fishing’ game. We have had to rewrite it a few times, to improve the instructions, but also to get across its subtle learning points.

Included below is the full instructions and required assets (in PDF – click on the first page to download the document), please do give us feedback, as we are always improving:

VFQ Activity - Gone Fishing!

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  • Where_oh_where_is_table_1

    Is this a deliberate irony: write a post about mistakes that make companies look dumb + ask for feedback on a game that illustrates a root cause + leave out half the instructions?

    • Paul Dolman-Darrall

      The game instructions can be downloaded by pressing on the graphic. That contains the full instructions.

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