Book Review – The Infinite Game

Book Review – The Infinite Game

So I’ve been trying to do more reading, and this book in particular got my attention after this video was referred to me.

I particularly found this interesting because if you watch the video. It discusses the differences between an infinite strategy and a finite strategy. And it struck me because to be honest I had been explaining to friends the differences between board games and TableTop Roleplaying Games. And more importantly, I saw the implications of this with regard to a career. Business / Technology is a game that will continue long after I am gone, and to build anything worthwhile it would require movement in that direction from a strategic perspective.

So after that I heard that Simon Sinek wrote a book that went into this more:

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What I found interesting reading this book?

For me the interesting part of this book was that it put forward a mathematics based theory, that attempts to model human behavior. And I find some of this completely fascinating. But more than that I found the original premise, of the infinite vs the finite strategy to be something very telling. And one of the things I love about my current position is that it affords the ability to to see a bigger picture than I used to, and the opportunity to see beyond the technology to the broader picture and to focus on a mission.

What is the difference between “Finite strategy” and “Infinite strategy.”

Now I’ve mentioned this a couple of times. So what is a “Finite strategy”, and an “infinite strategy.”

A Finite game, is a game that meets certain types of parameters and must be played as such. In a finite game, the following elements are true:

  • All players are none.
  • The conditions to “win” are transparent and clearly defined.
  • All rules are defined and agreed upon up front.
  • The duration of the game is defined.
  • A clear “winner” is defined at the end.

The best example of a Finite game I can think of are sports. Take hockey for example. A set number of players for two teams are set to play with the game starting at a specific time, and ending at a specific time. Because of this there is a very specific set of strategies that needs to be implemented to win.

Now an Infinite game, creates a very different situation, and requires that it be handled very differently. In an infinite game.

  • Players are both known and unknown, and can enter and leave the game at any time.
  • The conditions of “Winning” are to be able to continue to play the game.
  • Rules are both written and unwritten.
  • The duration of the game is infinite.
  • A player wins by creating a scenario where they continue to play the game. This requires creating situations that support maintaining the will and resources to continue.

The important part of this is the “Will and the Resources” to continue playing the game. In an infinite game setting, the goal is to stay in the game, and part of it is the realization that there will always be a competitor, and that you can’t ever assume you’ve “won” the game in any way.

A great example of this I find is the example of business. The business world doesn’t end. There is never a circumstance that says “Oh well Company X won…everyone time to go home.” The landscape of the game is always changing.

A perfect example of this is the COVID-19, situation around the world. The important part of this is to remember that the game conditions are changing at all time. But the companies that are going t o weather the storm are the ones who can make adjustments and flex their strategy to survive.

Why does this matter?

if you look at the companies and individuals that are most successful, they all focus on their values, and trying to continue to drive towards a goal / calling that helps them to keep the will in the game. And by having this longer term vision, and a clear mission the companies and individuals out there that embrace an infinite mindset and strategy are able to make the right adjustments to do what’s required to see that mission successful.

Final Thoughts?

I really enjoyed this book, and I found it to provide some very interesting ideas and insights that really forced me to question traditional thinking. Simon Sinek has this great ability to take these concepts and present them in such a way that they come off as mind-blowingly obvious. I definitely recommend this book overal.

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