Book review – The Infinite Game: How Businesses Achieve Long-Lasting Success

Published by Tim Levey on 23 September 2020

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The Infinite Game: How Businesses Achieve Long-Lasting Success by Simon Sinek

Even before the advent of the internet and smartphones, there was evidence that business books could be bought but then sat on a shelf and were never read and only a small proportion of them were ever finished. In today’s busy world that is even more the case. Add to that the feeling that most business books could be boiled down to a very good magazine article and it made sense for me to think about doing some brief “smartphone friendly” books reviews. Short, but just long enough to give the reader the flavour of what was being covered, so that you can decide whether you should buy and see if you can get to the end of it…

What made me read this?

It was a mystery gift that turned up in the post! I later found it is was from my mentor, so I had to read it and do a review otherwise he would ask why I was ignoring him.

Best quote

“The true value of an organisation 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. While a finite-minded leader works to get something from their employees, customers and shareholders in order to meet arbitrary metrics, the infinite-minded leader works to ensure that their employees, customers and shareholders remain inspired to continue contributing with their efforts, their wallets and their investments.”

What’s the Big Idea?

The average business’ life is now down to 20 years. Is that because business leaders are increasingly treating business as a “finite game” which ends at every year end rather like a football match and therefore makes it necessary to be the best and win every year? They therefore judge themselves by arbitrary metrics set with that target in mind, force everyone to stick with them and face declining trust, co-operation and innovation. Compare that with the “infinite mindset” which accepts that there will be ups and downs and looks far longer term.

Key learning 1

For an infinite mindset you need a Just Cause that everyone can rally behind. This is about the future, describing the world that we hope to live in and is powerful enough that others will carry on the legacy.  Like the Declaration of Independence, it needs to be written down.

Key learning 2

The three pillars of a responsible business are 1) advance a purpose; 2) protect people; and 3) generate profit. These seem essential to the infinite game of business as they are to nation states.

Key learning 3

The finite leader sees competition as businesses to be beaten. The infinite leader sees them as Worthy Rivals  who remind you “Why” you doing this.

To explore these ideas at a deeper level, you can get your own copy of this book on Amazon here.

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