Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the case studies used in business thought. There are some massively powerful examples to learn from. For instance, we all recognize the genius of Apple. We know that Toyota came up with a superb efficiency. And we might not even know what the details of those examples are, but even on the surface, you can look at a big corporation like those and understand, "yes, they're doing something right," right?
So I've been thinking about some examples that have struck me and continue to come to mind. Examples that aren't so obvious, yet have their own undeniable awesomeness. The first that comes to mind is Sally Hogshead's analysis of Jaegermeister, the "delicious" liqueur who's brand continues to grow in spite of the fact that no one claims to enjoy it's taste. Sally's reference to this enigma appears in her book Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation
and it's a compelling study. On the surface, it seems illogical, yet the business truth exists. But how? You'll have to read Sally's book to understand that (and how to create that scenario for your business), but the point is that this is an obscure example, and almost because of its obscurity, it stands out more.
When we look at obvious examples, we make assumptions. That's not to say that obvious examples aren't relevant in terms of what they address, but it is interesting how we perceive them and how we absorb them.
On an even more obscure scale, author Hugh MacLeod uses a tiny meat market in Texas to exemplify how companies (and individuals) can "keep it simple," meaning, do as much of your business as you can yourself, and serve your customers in the most helpful way possible. As Hugh realizes at the end of his story, there's a good amount of money to be made in that philosophy. Check out this story and more in his book Evil Plans: Having Fun on the Road to World Domination
Certainly, there are many other examples, but you get the idea. Sometimes it's good to not take the obvious route. Look around, observe things, take note. There's a lot to learn out there, but sometimes the lessons come from examples that are far easier to find, understand, and analyze, than the big, obvious choices.