Smashing Paradigms — When others Zig, you Zag

Tom McCallum
3 min readMar 23, 2018

{latest in a developing series on Smashing Paradigms}

For my story-telling explanation of the definition of a Paradigm, see “What is a Paradigm”.

One way of defining a paradigm is “an unconsciously held belief that limits us from fresh thinking” or “we’ve always done it this way”



When Everyone Zigs You Zag Sticky Notes Saying Quote

In Positioning Strategy, you can either choose to go with the market, or go against the market. If you choose the latter, when others “zig”, you “zag”

The degree to which you choose to “zag” though, is very important. You can go slightly away from what everyone else is doing, or you can go radically away.

If, as a leader, you sense that going “radical” is the right path, I strongly encourage you to bring in some outside perspective to challenge your thinking, as the reality is that we typically can’t “think outside the box” when we are in the box already, as it were !

When we are “in the box”, we can’t see outside it, so we will unconsciously limit our thinking.

Recently I was at an event where two businesses were merging and integrating. A repeated phrase used was that they would “raise the bar”. When it was my turn to share my thoughts, I simply said “there is no bar”….

Am not sure anybody understood, but I was referencing what I wrote about in “Smashing Paradigms — Growth Mindset and Pole Vaulting”, in that “The unconscious belief carried by the group was that there is a bar, a limit to what can be achieved.”

There is no bar.

Now, i leave you with two very “zag while others zig” Superbowl campaigns, one very recent, and one that has gone down in history.

I leave it to you to decide how much they Smashed Paradigms, how much they “zagged”.

As you consider these campaigns and your own business, your own leadership, how much do you Zig, and how radically do you Zag ?

The first is a recent campaign by Volvo, where they didn’t even buy an ad. Instead, they…



Tom McCallum

Sounding Board for Visionary Leaders ready to make a Massive Impact. Daily posts here, or