Perhaps it is unfair to compare a book meant for popular audiences with a philosophical treatise by a Professor Emeritus of history and literature of religion. Revisiting the Origins Story of Grand Strategy, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bFs6ZiynSU. The leaders who embrace an infinite mindset, in stark contrast, build stronger, more innovative, more inspiring organizations. Finite games have clear rules, well-defined beginnings and endings, and clear winners and losers. In finite games, like football or chess, the players are known, the rules are fixed, and the endpoint is clear. [16] Better scholarship on these issues has been produced by Henry Mintzberg in The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning, Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey in An Everyone Culture, Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly, and Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile. Although it … [1] Perhaps the most profound resource applicable to both is philosopher James Carse’s 1986 Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility. A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.” Spatial boundaries are necessary for every finite game, but infinite games have no boundaries. In an Infinite Game… To ask, “What’s best for us” is infinite thinking.” ― … So I’m thankful that this book exists to make the original ideas consumable. One could be called finite, the other infinite. … By Daniel Miessler Created/Updated: January 12, 2020. The Infinite Game. Infinite games, in contrast, are represented by known and unknown players. Infinite players only care about the game. To finite players, the past is concrete. This is an awkward sentiment for strategists, who likely identify more with Sinek’s fundamentally different assertion that an infinite mindset is about “becom[ing] better players ourselves.”[4] So, while Carse challenges conventional wisdom by suggesting it is a duty to support one’s competitors, Sinek simply reaffirms this approach is ultimately about one’s own advantage. In The Infinite Game, Sinek applies game theory to explore how great businesses achieve long-lasting success. For example, what does it mean for national security when he writes that “infinite players do not rise to meet arms with arms; instead, they make use of laughter, vision, and surprise to engage the state and put its boundaries back into play?”[17] Is it possible, in our present strategic culture, to gain public support for any approach that privileges continuation over victorious closure? A common human problem is treating what should be an infinite game like a finite one. A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play. Yet, the notion of winning—or resolution of any type—is absent from the original notion of an infinite mindset. There are no exact or agreed-upon rules. They have the resilience to thrive in an ever-changing world, while their … Perhaps Sinek and Carse simply had widely divergent purposes despite using identical words. Infinite games are games that are guided by no set of rules or regulations. Tragically, those ideas often contradict the scope, substance, and spirit of the philosopher’s original concept. A few years ago, two of my research interests—strategy and play—collided. What the philosopher Carse advocates, instead, is having a mindset that values the evolution of the competition—including other players’ ability to continue the game. However, to crush the infinite game in the business industry, Simon Sinek has provided five essential practices that should be duly … An infinite game is not the absence of a finite game: It is the context in which the finite game exists. Likewise, this new book would presumably introduce Carse’s important work to a wider audience, while also offering a deeper understanding of its obscurity. You have to have existential flexibility. Some games in life, are, or should be, infinite, where the rules are wide open, people can enter the field of play at any time, and the goal is to show worthiness that allows you to continue the game. Many efforts in life can be seen as some sort of game. For Carse, only finite players default to an emphasis on closure over continuation. [10] The contrast with the original work could not be more vivid. [2] James Carse, Finite and Infinite Games (New York: Free Press, 1986), 149. [5] For instance, Sinek’s first practice—described in chapters two through six—is simply about having a noble principle to guide your organizations. In an infinite game, it’s the opposite. Infinite players, on the other hand, “continue their play in the expectation of being surprised.” He goes on to note that “[while] surprise causes finite play to end; it is the reason for infinite play…the infinite player does not expect only to be amused by surprise, but to be transformed by it.”[11] Furthermore, Sinek claims an infinite-minded leader looks “miles beyond the horizon.” Carse frequently employs the same imagery, but for him the horizon represents the impassable limit to human vision. The “game” of leadership and business is an infinite game where the rules change frequently, competitors come and go, and there is no end point to the game. The first chapter of The Infinite Game attempts to bridge from Carse’s work, which tackles the nature of all life, to Sinek’s business-centric framework. According to Sinek, visionary leaders fail if employees are frustrated, but without deeper analysis it is impossible to rule out frustration as an effect of failure instead of its cause. But they can't be unbalanced. Doing this means that they lose trust, cooperation, and innovation along the way. A game can be defined as something that distracts us from existential depression (not an idea from this book). A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.” Thus begins James Carse’s wonderful book Finite and Infinite Games. It is the game that lives on and it is the players whose time runs out. Short Summary “There at least two kinds of games. You are either ahead or behind. Competition with peers and friends is finite thinking. Next is the practice of “existential flexibility,” which is the ability to change a business paradigm or strategic context in order to realize the organization’s long-term vision. The Infinite Game is not the introduction of something complex and impactful via an easily acceptable narrative. Consider, for example, how he relates neuroscience to leadership in Leaders Eat Last. Much of peoples’ unhappiness comes from playing finite games when they should be playing infinite ones. Admittedly, neither Sinek’s recommendations, nor his examples, are necessarily flawed. Jason M. Trew is an officer in the U.S. Air Force and holds a PhD in the History of Technology from Auburn University. Please help spread the word to new readers by sharing it on social media. Why This Book Matters: The Infinite Game … There are at least two kinds of games. This work comes from another author who came up with the idea, but his book was hard for me to follow. I spend my time reading 3-6 books a month on security, technology, and society—and thinking about what might be coming next. They have fixed rules. Finite games can be played within an infinite game, but an infinite game cannot be played within a finite games. Video, 9:48. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bFs6ZiynSU. It holds meaningful ideas that serve as interesting intellectual exercises for military strategists. Sinek pulls on the well-trodden illustrations of Walt Disney, Apple, and Kodak. And the traditional metrics still have value. The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek gives us inspiration to play the Infinite Game against ourselves vs. the Finite game against each other. It means you’re focusing too much on other people and relative success, and not enough on your own systems and goals, which should be long-term and identity-based, not achievement-based. The objective of infinite games such as the Cold War is merely to keep playing. It challenges the ways that we look at the … His central points about the importance of long-term thinking, organizational agility, and transformational leadership, however, are better represented elsewhere. The rules of an infinite game are changeable while infinite games have no defined endpoint. [12], The final chapter in The Infinite Game covers the “courage to lead.” This principle highlights a valuable point for leaders and strategists: trading known benefits in the present for a longer-term, hypothetical advantage can be a difficult proposition. “A finite game … Read A Longer Form Summary … [14] Moreover, the treatment reveals his continued confusion over Carse’s definitions of the two types of games. Sinek has a well deserved reputation for translating ideas for mass consumption. If you find yourself unhappy, ask yourself what your Just Cause is, and whether you’re focusing too much on other things instead of it. Every Monday I send out a list of the best content I've found in the last week to around 50,000 people. When finite players play other finite players, or when infinite players face off against other infinite players, the game remains … Relative to the scholarship that already exists on mission and vision statements, Sinek’s treatment is superficial. “Simon Sinek: What game theory teaches us about war.” November 8, 2016. One could be called finite, the other infinite. The goal of the infinite game … [13], As illustrated above, Sinek’s argument is not convincing for critical readers attuned to rigorous logic, compelling evidence, and novel insight. For example, despite his repeated references to the Cold War as an exemplar of an infinite game in his public presentations, the topic warrants all of six pages in the book. The following chapters go through each of Sinek’s “five essential practices” using simplistic stories with the usual characters taken straight from the pages of popular business literature. The shortcomings of The Infinite Game notwithstanding, the concept of play, along with its subcategory of games, is still a topic worth mining for strategists. And there is an agreed-upon objective that, when reached, ends the game. There are five essential practices for playing the Infinite Game, having an inspirational just cause is … There … One thing that starkly shows the divide between finite and infinite to me is the idea of competing with friendly peers. For Carse, only finite players make such attempts at control. Keep reading! People thinking in a finite way think that their friendly peers, or even their friends, doing well is a sign that they’re not doing well. Practice existential flexibility. … A different purpose is the first of many … One could be called finite; the other infinite. [1] Jason Trew, “Can Strategy be Playful?,” PAX Sims, 11 December 2016, https://paxsims.wordpress.com/2016/11/12/trew-can-strategy-be-playful/. Infinite games have fuzzy rules, no … Just cause—More than your “why” or purpose, a just cause is what motivates you to get out of bed in … A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play. Access a free review of The Infinite Game, by Simon Sinek and 20,000 other business, leadership and nonfiction books on getAbstract. Better yet, consider doing your own study of Carse’s short but challenging work. The New York Times-bestselling author of Start With Why, Leaders Eat Last, and Together Is Better offers a bold new approach to business strategy by asking one question: are you playing the finite game or the infinite game?. In each example, what purportedly determined the success or failure of these businesses was the proactive, “offensive” efforts to “initiate an extreme disruption” to their business model. London, UK: Penguin Random House, 2019. In Finite Games, a player plays to win. For that reason, I eagerly awaited Simon Sinek’s new work, The Infinite Game. It is a dense little book that skips any preamble and opens immediately with its core assertion: “There are at least two kinds of games. Finite games, like football or chess, have known players, fixed rules and a clear endpoint. For example, living your life to make as much money as possible, have the biggest house, the nicest car, etc., all the while ignoring a personal cause, a desire to help others, and ignoring deeper things like friendships. In infinite games, like business or politics or life itself, the … In the chapter’s second sentence, for example, Sinek refers to multiple infinite games. He has presented his research into the intersection of strategy and play at international conferences and applied it as a design coach. What started with a simple list of quotes that seemed to apply equally to either domain has led to an ever-expanding project covering topics from Greek mythology to modern design theory. If you find yourself being upset when good people are successful, it’s a symptom of finite game playing. When your entire business model is challenged, would you be … An infinite game is defined as known and unknown players, the rules are changeable, and the objective is not to win—the objective is to keep playing, keep perpetuating the game. [14] TED Archive. Ready to learn the most important takeaways from The Infinite Game in less than two minutes? To infinite players, the past can be transformed and utilized. Instead of protecting their company’s current business model, Sinek … If anyone presumes Sinek has adequately translated Carse’s idea, The Infinite Game may dissuade readers from engaging with the original work. In Carse’s original, one of the central points—and the final revelation of the book—is “there is but one infinite game.”[3] Also, while Sinek overlays a negative connotation to anything finite, Carse acknowledges everyone plays such games. Yes, it is not surprising Steve Jobs used other players in his field to clarify his winning strategy. Follow the logo below, and you too can contribute to The Bridge: Enjoy what you just read? Business, Leadership. Surprisingly, in the one section where The Infinite Game aligns most closely with Finite and Infinite Games, Sinek does little to connect with the original framework despite the earlier claim he would look “at the world through Carse’s lens.”[8] Even if he had, one can presume he would continue distorting the philosopher’s ideas on the enduring nature of reality to fit recent stories of organizational success. Infinite games, games with no finish line, like business or politics, or life itself, have players who come and go. If you find yourself unhappy, ask yourself what your Just Cause is, and whether you’re focusing too much on other things instead of it. The Infinite Game Book Summary (PDF) by Simon Sinek. Because there is no such thing as winning or losing in an infinite game, the players simply drop out of … A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.”[2]. What the reader gets, however, is a sort of Trojan horse in reverse. Infinite players play to utilize their past while the past controls the game finite players play. In contrast, infinite-minded … [4] Simon Sinek, The Infinite Game (London: Penguin Business, 2019), 174. He finds that building long-term value and healthy, enduring growth – that … The infinite game … The winners and losers are easily identified. Simon Sinek. The main disappointment, however, lies elsewhere. The first chapter of The Infinite Game attempts to bridge from Carse’s work, which tackles the nature of all life, to Sinek’s business-centric framework. An Information Security Glossary of Terms. This summary of Finite and Infinite Games by James Carse will teach you to see your everyday activities as games to become better at them. His case study is the decision by a major drugstore chain to discontinue selling tobacco products because it contradicted their corporate vision to promote health. The five principles for the infinite game are: advance a just cause, build trusting teams, study your worthy rivals, prepare for existential flexibility, and show the courage to lead. There is no ultimate winner or loser. [16] Specifically, those interested in strategic theory that is both philosophical and unconventional would do better to read Robert Chia and Robin Holt’s Strategy without Design: The Silent Efficacy of Indirect Action or Everett Dolman’s Pure Strategy, the latter of which is one of the few books in the field that cites Carse. In fact, wrapping this in Carse’s language seems to overburden The Infinite Game. Read now. In contrast, in Finite and Infinite Games, Carse makes little pretense of case stories, offers no glib advice, and stays true to the theoretical nature of the work. Some games in life, like chess and football, are finite, meaning they are short-term, have set rules, a limited number of participants, and the goal is always to achieve some tangible victory. Chapter nine opens with an auto-biographical sketch about his “worthy rival.”[9] This practice is about adopting a healthier attitude towards one’s competitor. Chapters seven and eight address the next essential practice, “trusting teams.”[7] Sinek uses examples from Shell Oil and the U.S. Marine Corps Officer Candidate School to highlight the importance of courageous vulnerability, psychological safety, and emotional intelligence. Hopefully, there are some infinite thinkers out there who do not perceive either work as the final word on the matter, but as simply another move in an unfolding discourse on “a vision of life as play and possibility.”[18]. The winners and losers are easily identified. Is an infinite mindset more applicable to a paradigm that embraces a spectrum of conflict and competition instead of war and peace? Finite games are played by known players. The reviewed work, however, does nothing to advance this dialogue. To cite just one more example, because political violence is always finite, the Cold War did not —as Sinek claims—“meet all the standards of an Infinite Game.”[15]. Synopsis Most leaders are utilizing a finite mindset in the infinite game of business. Tagged: Leadership, Games, Game Theory, Sinek, Review, It Was Grand, But Was it Strategy? The finite game is easy to visualize; it's what takes place when kids sit down to play a game of Monopoly. These phrases were not in vogue when Carse published his work in 1986. In The Infinite Game, Sinek applies game … Want To Keep Reading? “To ask, “What’s best for me” is finite thinking. Additionally, it continues the misrepresentation of Carse’s idea by putting everything in terms of how it will ultimately benefit the reader, if only they follow Sinek’s advice. The remaining 148 pages expound upon these statements in short, dense, and often enigmatic sections that sound more like poetry than prose. The views expressed are the author’s alone and do not represent the official position of the U.S. Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. The game of life should arguably be one such game. There are two types of games: finite and infinite games. Successful companies, like Walmart under Sam Walton, are distinguished from failing companies, such as Walmart under Mike Duke, by virtue of whether they “checked all the boxes” of Sinek’s recipe for a “just cause.”[6] The prerequisite to strategic success is reduced to this one variable, which itself is reduced to a formula, and it is all supported by shallow circumstantial evidence. Infinite games are less obvious and more complex, they have ever changing sets of rules and different players. A different purpose is the first of many dissimilarities between these dimensions that continue throughout the book. Furthermore, even though the concept of infinite and finite games should appeal to students of strategy, Sinek’s treatment in The Infinite Game is not worth engaging. Have a response or an idea for your own article? The vignette is overly romanticized, suggesting this simple shift improves everything from resilience and resource management, to innovation and personal integrity. Summary: The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek Business is an infinite game where unfortunately most still play it as if it were finite. In offering a checklist-like approach with the promise of “a little more control” over the risk, Sinek once again neuters the boldness of Carse’s assertion that the infinite player does not even think in terms of closure or predictability. Instead, Sinek uses Carse’s powerful words to veil a collection of bland leadership lessons communicated in pithy phrases. Again, the logic is flawed and the case studies are oversimplified. The rules of an infinite game are changeable while infinite games … It is the type of book that deserves the unpacking afforded other great concepts that are less accessible in the author’s original prose. Here is the basic concept: There are two types of games, the finite game and the infinite game. People playing the infinite game are happy for their friends because their competition is with themselves and their long-term goals of being a good person, or a helpful person, and not being better than everyone. Finite games are those instrumental activities - from sports to politics to wars - in which the … Infinite games, games with no finish line, like business or politics, or life itself, have players who come and go. He did, however, affirm the social nature of play while expressing similar notions regarding trust as an ever-evolving element of the infinite game. And, this really has to be understood at the beginning of this conversation: Milton Friedman, and his … The finite game is not surprising Steve Jobs used other players in his field to clarify winning. Types of games might be coming next central points about the importance of long-term thinking, organizational agility, often... Not surprising Steve Jobs used other players in his field to clarify his winning Strategy for ideas. Recommendations, nor his examples, are better represented elsewhere There is an agreed-upon objective that, reached... While the past controls the game finite players make such attempts at.... Book exists to make the original work could not be more vivid time runs.... Represented by known and unknown players simple shift improves everything from resilience and resource management, to innovation and integrity. 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