The Infinite Game: A new way to think about business

Simon Sinek talks about his new book, The Infinite Game, in this interview on the Bregman Leadership Podcast, and it’s a fascinating take on the perspective shift that business leaders need to make.

He distinguishes between finite games (like chess) where there are known players, known rules, and one plays to end the game, and win. In contrast, in infinite games (like politics or business), neither the players nor the rules are fully known, and one plays to extend the game.

In the context of business, those who play the infinite game play with the eventual goal of making business better.

He takes the example of companies such as Patagonia, Zappos, and even Apple, that create practices that are good for business in general, and then share them widely so others can learn as well.

This shift in perspective moves us from the narrow lens of looking at others as competition, to opening avenues for collaboration and building more together. Both Sinek and Bregman reflect on ways this has changed their own mindset, and created for them a greater sense of abundance.

Unfortunately, stock prices and valuations reinforce the mindset of the finite game, and can force leaders to prioritise the short-term. Often this can have devastating impacts – like in the case of the Boeing 737 Max. Sinek points to the responsibility that CEOs and boards carry to maintain the correct balance, and ensure organisations do not get caught in the trap of purely chasing quarterly performance.

Finally, when we think of the biggest problems we need to solve – like the role of businesses and other stakeholders in saving our planet, can we really afford to play the finite game?

Shweta Anand Arora

About Shweta Anand Arora

Shweta Anand Arora is the founder of The Core Questin. She is a Leadership and Life Coach, who works with leaders across the corporate, social enterprise and non-profit space. Shweta holds an M.Ed. from Harvard University, an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad and is a graduate of Coach for Life, USA.

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