Book Review: The Infinite Game

Growing up as a kid in Miami I loved to play games. I played little league baseball, football, and basketball. We had an open field next door to our house and it was in use almost every day as the kids in the neighborhood played games from dawn to dusk.

I also loved to play board games as a child. There’s nothing like a game of monopoly, or risk, or the favorite family game of cribbage. As I got older there were neighborhood poker games almost every weekend.

Needless to say, I had a competitive streak as a young man. I hated to lose a game. We kept score of everything. Everywhere we went ended up being a race of some sort.

Naturally, when I got into business I assumed that nothing would change. Business would be all about winning and losing as well, and I was obsessed with winning. I was always comparing my sales with those of my peers. I always saw my competitors as evil. It was me against them every day.

I was playing the finite game

Best-selling author Simon Sinek’s new book, The Infinite Game, takes a very interesting look at a different type of game. An infinite game. In this game, there are no winners or losers. There is no beginning or end. There is very little scorekeeping. It’s not about being the best rather it’s about getting better.

Which game are you playing?

How do you know? Sinek’s book is based on an earlier book written by James P. Carse. Carse says that in a finite game you have known players, fixed rules, and a clear endpoint. Winners and losers are easily identified.

In an infinite game, players come and go, the rules are interchangeable, and there is no defined endpoint. There are no winners or losers. The research suggests that businesses that play an infinite game build more inspiring, innovative, and stronger companies. They experience higher levels of trust in their people and become far more resilient in an ever-changing business world.

Are you interested in another example of an infinite game? What about your marriage? Is your marriage a finite or infinite game? Are there winners and losers or is it all about the way the game is played?

This is a very interesting book and I highly recommend it to all small business owners.