A friend passed this video along in the context of the War on Terror from this weeks earlier posts on Islamic terror in Africa (here and here) and this blends perfectly with our post: Double Feature: Military History and Geography. If you want to understand what we are trying to accomplish here at The Cognitive Warrior Project, the double feature is a great place to start. So, if you want a little pick me up for those works of love and understanding of The Infinite Game I cannot more highly recommend that you watch the relatively short Simon Sinek video below.
So, what is The Infinite Game? The Infinite Game is a book by Simon Sinek an author and “unshakable optimist who believes in a bright future and our ability to build it together.” Sinek states that there are Finite and Infinite Games that are defined as:
At least two players. They have fixed rules. There is an agreed upon objective. When this objective is reached by one of the players, they are declared the winner and the game ends.
Football is a good example of a finite game. The teams wear uniforms to identify the players and the teams. There is a clear set of rules, there’s even a referee to enforce these rules. There are penalties for breaking the rules, and both teams know that they have to score the most goals before the time runs out. There is a beginning, middle and end to a finite game, and when the final whistle is blown everyone packs up and goes home.
In contrast, there are no exact or agreed upon rules of an infinite game. Though there may be conventions or laws that govern how the players conduct themselves, within those broad boundaries the players operate however they want. And if they choose to break convention, they can. The manner in which each player chooses to play is entirely up to them. And they can change how they play the game at any time for any reason.
Infinite games have infinite time horizons. There is no defined end point. And because there is no finish line, no practical end to the game, there is no such thing as winning an infinite game. In an infinite game, the primary objective is to keep playing, to perpetuate the game.
The more you look at our world through this lens of finite and infinite games, the more you see infinite games all around us, games with no finish lines and no winners. There is no such thing as coming first in marriage or friendship, for example. When we lead with a finite mindset in an infinite game, it leads to all kinds of problems. The most common of which include the decline of trust, cooperation and innovation. Leading with an infinite mindset really does move us in a better direction.
The presentation does a great job relating The Infinite Game to war, education, business and life in general. There are 5 major components when playing the game which are:
- A Just Cause
- Trusting Teams
- Worthy Rival
- Existential Flexibility
- The Courage to Lead
In the presentation Sinek discusses the reality of the Vietnam War, how we essentially won every battle, decimated the enemy and yet lost the war because we were playing the wrong game. I believe this can easily be applied to the conflicts of today and the resilience of our opponents. When your mindset is generational, it will take generations to achieve victory. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.