Business Is An Infinite Game

Business is an infinite game same as life. So what does your response to the coronavirus say about your mindset? Are you a finite or infinite business player?

The game of life

Author Simon Sinek says life is an infinite game. No one “wins” the game because unlike a finite game of football, for example, there are no rules that every player can agree upon. No time limits and no metrics for identifying a clear winner.

An infinite game never stops. Future generations will continue to play the life game long after the current players (you, me, and everyone else alive on the planet right now) have made way for them. Trouble is, most players don’t know the game they’re in. According to Sinek, they’re playing with a finite mindset when they should instead be playing with an infinite mindset.

The game of business

Business is an infinite game same as life. As in the game of life, being “the best” or “the winner” is not only difficult to prove in practice but actually the wrong mindset. In an infinite game the right mindset isn’t to beat the competition but to stay in the game for as long as possible. The game of business requires strategic planning to build trust and resilience for the long-term as opposed to knee-jerk cost-cutting, profiteering, and other short-term thinking likely to force an early exit.

So what game are you in right now? What does your response to the coronavirus say about your mindset? Are you a finite or infinite business player?

The infinite mindset

If you’ve been playing a finite business game the coronavirus might already have stopped you in your tracks. Maybe you’re scrambling now to cut wages or lay off employees. Or hiking prices and looking for other ways to charge customers extra. Reacting fearfully instead of responding calmly.

On the other hand, your first response as an infinite game player would likely have been to reassure employees that job losses and wage cuts are a measure of last resort. You’ll have saved enough cash and be in a position to pursue alternative sources of revenue and capital. You’ll be doubling down on credit control, forecasting and cash management. Building trust and gaining future loyalty by empowering employees and giving away value to customers, for example. Refraining from micromanaging, hard-selling, or profiteering.

The good news is, we get to choose how we play this infinite game. And if we’re still in it we can begin right now to exchange a finite mindset for an infinite mindset. We can increase resilience and avoid fire-fighting by making better long-term business decisions. And when we eventually bow out of the game chances are we’ll leave behind some kind of legacy that will be valued long afterwards.

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