Succeed At The Infinite Game Of Business

This blog is inspired by Simon Sinek’s recent book called, The infinite Game Of Business. What a great read for all business owners and leaders in business, especially during the interesting time we find ourselves in business!

We have all been globally challenged as business owners and entrepreneurs over the last 18+ months by the Covid-19 pandemic causing exponential change, volatility, complexity and the speed and scale of disruption experienced in the world of business is unprecedented – also referred to the VUCA world of business (Volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous).

Business Coach ActionCOACH Lindie Malan

How does this relate to business?

It has become important to view one’s business as ‘playing an infinite game’ as this approach will add to the chances of building a sustainable, successful business that will impact and add value in the long term in a significant way. Add to this, a real sense of life-time value, legacy and purpose, and you will have set yourself and your business apart from the average.

“As for those who choose to embrace the infinite mindset, our journey is one that will lead us to feel inspired every morning, safe when we are working, and fulfilled at the end of each day.  And when it’s time to leave the game we will look back at our lives and our careers and say, “I lived a life worth living which is important when imagining what the future holds –  we will see how many people we’ve inspired to carry on the journey without us.” – Simon Sinek, The Infinite Game

Playing the infinite game of business requires a strong, principled mindset and  visionary leadership. Great infinite leaders set up their organizations to succeed beyond their own lifetimes, and when they do, the benefits—for us, for business and even for the shareholder—are extraordinary.

In contrast to the above, a finite-minded leader uses the company's performance to demonstrate the value of their own career.

According to Simon Sinek, any leader who wants to adopt an infinite mindset must follow five essential practices:

1.    Advance a just cause

2.    Build trusting teams

3.    Study your worthy rivals

4.    Prepare for existential flexibility

5.    Demonstrate the courage to lead

I want to highlight the importance of ‘people before profit’ in building trusting teams and viewing human resources as asset and ultimately the social capital of a company;

So many leaders and business owners—even some of the best-intentioned ones—often ask, "how do I get the most out of my people?" This, however, is a flawed question. A better question to ask is, "How do I create an environment in which my people can work to their best?"

It's not the people doing the job, it's the people who lead the people doing the job who can make the greater difference. Infinite leadership develops the potential of all staff to become leaders in their own right. Opportunities for self-development result in self-management and intrinsic self-motivation. The outcomes? A company that benefits from higher employee engagement, higher levels of creativity, innovation and collective synergistic problem solving capability.

“Finite players play to beat the people around them. Infinite players play to be better than themselves.” – Simon Sinek, The Infinite Game

Contrary finite thinkers and leaders do not appreciate that an investment in people will ultimately benefit the company, the customer and their investments.

From a broader perspective, disruption is often a symptom of a finite mindset. Leaders playing with a finite mindset often miss an opportunity to use an authentic disruptive opportunity to clarify their ‘cause’ because they would rather double-down on the finite game and simply copy what the other players are doing in the hope that it will work for them too and give them a ‘competitive’ advantage.

A great example of a finite mindset is the demise of Kodak. Instead of leading the digital revolution, Kodak's executives chose to close their eyes, put their fingers in their ears and try and convince themselves that ‘everything was going be just fine’. The rest is history… Kodak is no more!

Finite leaders with an ultimate focus only on ‘winning’ have finite goals; overplay ‘urgent’ above ‘important’, tend to be obsessed with ‘the competition’, are reactive in ‘knee-jerk’ decision making, under-invest in research and development, continuously cutting costs that are often detrimental to the long-term ability of a company to become agile and pro-active.

In closing, a decision to embrace infinite leadership and the principles of the infinite game of business, will impact the real and perceived value of all companies and organisations. ‘Business’ can no longer survive in isolation, serving only the interests of its owners and shareholders – is being called upon the be an active player and contributor to the overall social well-being of communities and society as a whole.

“The true value of an organization is measured by the desire others have to contribute to that organization’s ability to keep succeeding, not just during the time they are there, but well beyond their own tenure.” – Simon Sinek, The Infinite Game