How to play the Infinite Game of business?

35804 2020-04-11 14:57

Running a business can be like playing an infinite game in which there is no final score to determine the ultimate winner. So the main goal for each participant is to stay in the game as long as possible. Nowadays, too many people analyze businesses based on their stock prices. It seems that they forget one point: high profits at one time may collapse to zero overnight if the business cannot sustain.

To create businesses that last for generations, we should get back to long-term thinking and focus on making products people want instead of striving for short-term revenue. Simon Sinek, the author of The Infinite Game, introduces how to equip your business with the infinite mindset.

Start with a Just Cause

As Adam Smith put in the book The Wealth of Nations, the interests of consumers should come before the interests of the company. However, in 1970, Milton Friedman published an article writing that the primary responsibility of any free-market enterprise is to make money for shareholders, which signals a shift from being consumer-centric to being shareholder-centric.

A Just Cause is an inspirational goal that encourages your employees to fight for. If companies strive for longevity in the Infinite Game, their goals need to be consumer-centric. If they do not follow this principle, take the GPS device company Garmin, for example. It claimed to be “the global leader in every market we serve” and mentions nothing about their customers in the vision. Then no wonder why it is only worth one-third of its value in 2007.

Build trusting teams

A company culture of distrust is fatal to business operations. If employees do not trust the company, poor performance, or even unethical behaviors may take place. And this is due to the simple reason that employees don’t know whether to speak up honestly when something unpleasant happens.

Such is the case of Ford Motor Company before the year 2006. The CEO at that time had a habit of blaming and even firing those who brought bad news to him. And then, gradually, employees only reported good news on meetings. The culture of distrust was turned around only after Alan Mulally became the new CEO, who took actions to encourage everyone to bring up bad news.

Be flexible and learn from worthy rivals

Whether in the sports field or the business world, a good opponent forces you to improve yourself and learn new techniques. When Allan Mulally became the CEO of Ford Motor Company, Ford had lost 25 percent market share over the past 15 years. Instead of adopting promotion strategies, Allan turned to study rivals like Toyota and Lexus, trying to figure out why consumers preferred those cars over Ford.

It is the same case with Steve Jobs. He changed Apple’s plans instantly when seeing Xerox working on the GUI technology and decided to implement this new technology on Apple’s new computers. Now you can see how successful that move is. And this cannot happen if Jobs cannot embrace new technologies with his flexibility and fast execution.


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