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The Infinite Game

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Do you know how to play the game you're in? In finite games, like football or chess, the players are known, the rules are fixed, and the endpoint is clear. The winners and losers are easily identified. In infinite games, like business or politics or life itself, the players come and go, the rules are changeable, and there is no defined endpoint. There are no winners or Do you know how to play the game you're in? In finite games, like football or chess, the players are known, the rules are fixed, and the endpoint is clear. The winners and losers are easily identified. In infinite games, like business or politics or life itself, the players come and go, the rules are changeable, and there is no defined endpoint. There are no winners or losers in an infinite game; there is only ahead and behind. The more I started to understand the difference between finite and infinite games, the more I began to see infinite games all around us. I started to see that many of the struggles that organizations face exist simply because their leaders were playing with a finite mindset in an infinite game. These organizations tend to lag behind in innovation, discretionary effort, morale and ultimately performance. The leaders who embrace an infinite mindset, in stark contrast, build stronger, more innovative, more inspiring organizations. Their people trust each other and their leaders. They have the resilience to thrive in an ever-changing world, while their competitors fall by the wayside. Ultimately, they are the ones who lead the rest of us into the future. Any worthwhile undertaking starts with Why - the purpose, cause or belief that inspires us to do what we do and inspires others to join us. Good leaders know how to build Circles of Safety that promote trust and cooperation throughout their organizations. But that's not enough to help us chart a course through the unpredictable, often chaotic landscape of today's marketplace. I now believe that the ability to adopt an infinite mindset is a prerequisite for any leader who aspires to leave their organization in better shape than they found it.


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Do you know how to play the game you're in? In finite games, like football or chess, the players are known, the rules are fixed, and the endpoint is clear. The winners and losers are easily identified. In infinite games, like business or politics or life itself, the players come and go, the rules are changeable, and there is no defined endpoint. There are no winners or Do you know how to play the game you're in? In finite games, like football or chess, the players are known, the rules are fixed, and the endpoint is clear. The winners and losers are easily identified. In infinite games, like business or politics or life itself, the players come and go, the rules are changeable, and there is no defined endpoint. There are no winners or losers in an infinite game; there is only ahead and behind. The more I started to understand the difference between finite and infinite games, the more I began to see infinite games all around us. I started to see that many of the struggles that organizations face exist simply because their leaders were playing with a finite mindset in an infinite game. These organizations tend to lag behind in innovation, discretionary effort, morale and ultimately performance. The leaders who embrace an infinite mindset, in stark contrast, build stronger, more innovative, more inspiring organizations. Their people trust each other and their leaders. They have the resilience to thrive in an ever-changing world, while their competitors fall by the wayside. Ultimately, they are the ones who lead the rest of us into the future. Any worthwhile undertaking starts with Why - the purpose, cause or belief that inspires us to do what we do and inspires others to join us. Good leaders know how to build Circles of Safety that promote trust and cooperation throughout their organizations. But that's not enough to help us chart a course through the unpredictable, often chaotic landscape of today's marketplace. I now believe that the ability to adopt an infinite mindset is a prerequisite for any leader who aspires to leave their organization in better shape than they found it.

30 review for The Infinite Game

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    I was going to avoid reading this book and I knew I was going to fail to avoid reading this book because these sorts of books are my weakness. I did not like for the same reason I knew I was not going to like it: it's a book full of cherrypicked stories of success and failure that tries to tie up a theory into a neat binary that shows how to fail and how to succeed. In this book, it's about infinite games vs. finite games. And the same stories of success: apple vs. microsoft, Blockbuster vs. I was going to avoid reading this book and I knew I was going to fail to avoid reading this book because these sorts of books are my weakness. I did not like for the same reason I knew I was not going to like it: it's a book full of cherrypicked stories of success and failure that tries to tie up a theory into a neat binary that shows how to fail and how to succeed. In this book, it's about infinite games vs. finite games. And the same stories of success: apple vs. microsoft, Blockbuster vs. Netflix, etc. There are a hundred and one reasons that some companies do better than others--maybe it's because Apple was playing an infinite game and microsoft wasn't? But I sort of doubt it? Either way, it's impossible to prove without being totally unscientific. What I thought was really interesting about this book is that it is a book for business people where the author goes against the typical justifications for having a business. Sinek basically says you shouldn't be doing it (or that you won't be successful doing a business) if you're just in it for the money. It should be about something bigger and more world-changing. But actually, I don't know. I mean, sure it makes people who spend all their hours working at a company to believe that they are doing good for the world, but I just think most of that mission stuff is BS. The job of a company is to make money. It'd be great if they could do that without destroying the planet and preying on people (cough...Wells Fargo), but I just am not going to hold my breath and hope that the business community saves humanity with their infinite games.

  2. 5 out of 5

    s e a n

    This is a review of the book and not the concept. And full disclosure: I’m a Simon Sinek stan and I have been powerfully moved by Start With/Find Your Why and it was a catalyst for wholesale review of my leadership approach. Leaders Eat Last was similarly inspiring. The concept of infinite rather than finite games is compelling. The first chapter adequately explains finite and infinite games, explains what a just cause is and how to measure/identify it. This is where the great concept is let This is a review of the book and not the concept. And full disclosure: I’m a Simon Sinek stan and I have been powerfully moved by Start With/Find Your Why and it was a catalyst for wholesale review of my leadership approach. Leaders Eat Last was similarly inspiring. The concept of infinite rather than finite games is compelling. The first chapter adequately explains finite and infinite games, explains what a just cause is and how to measure/identify it. This is where the great concept is let down by the rest of the book. The subsequent chapters are a laboured exposition of the ideas in the first chapter and, in my view, unnecessary. The first chapter represents a really great synthesis of many current ideas and practices around psychological safety, vulnerability and authenticity. Many of these things Simon Sinek has written about and speaks about. Unfortunately the rest of the book does very little to add to the concepts in the first chapter. The subsequent chapters take the form of corporate history lessons which, whilst well researched, are rather dry and they don’t generate inspiration. I don’t like to criticise for its own sake and as Brene Brown says, if you’re not in the ring then I don’t welcome your criticism. I offer this review as an honest reflection by a massive fan of his work, purpose and cause.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tõnu Vahtra

    I got the first warning with Find Your WHY that Sinek's "best before" might be passing but I ignored this warning hoping to find something at the level of Start with WHY or Leaders Eat Last, but this book does not reach to that level. I was annoyed by the fact how the author was conflicting with his own preaching (tolerance and seeking synergies) when coming back again and again to criticize Jack Welch (General Motors), Microsoft (while over-idealizing Apple), Collins and others. In some cases I got the first warning with Find Your WHY that Sinek's "best before" might be passing but I ignored this warning hoping to find something at the level of Start with WHY or Leaders Eat Last, but this book does not reach to that level. I was annoyed by the fact how the author was conflicting with his own preaching (tolerance and seeking synergies) when coming back again and again to criticize Jack Welch (General Motors), Microsoft (while over-idealizing Apple), Collins and others. In some cases it felt that he was just criticizing without really understanding in wider context what he was talking about (i.e. reproaching Buffet and saying that share buybacks are almost always a bad sign). Still, some credit should be given here because the infinite/finite mindset model is indeed a different perspective for mental models and helps to explain some important aspects of sustainability. I did like the discussion around CEO role and how COO or CFO should not be seen as the natural career path to CEO (lacking the vision component) but they should be seen as complementing each other. There is a lot of comparison in this book between the infinite and finite mindset but it is lacking a proper toolset to realize it (like Cynefin). It also argues against Moonshots (or BHAG from Collins) and their finite nature, but you do need milestones to strive towards to make your most fundamental WHY actionable. “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.”

  4. 5 out of 5

    Russ

    I would best describe this as a whiny rant against the modern incarnation of capitalism and the psycho and sociopaths that run them. Sinek does well to differentiate between the finite game of business with clear cut winners and losers and the infinite game played by long term visionaries who take a more nuanced look at capitalism. Milton Friedman and Wall Street come off roughly as the villians in the new form (according to the author) of share price maximization and management compensation I would best describe this as a whiny rant against the modern incarnation of capitalism and the psycho and sociopaths that run them. Sinek does well to differentiate between the finite game of business with clear cut winners and losers and the infinite game played by long term visionaries who take a more nuanced look at capitalism. Milton Friedman and Wall Street come off roughly as the villians in the new form (according to the author) of share price maximization and management compensation fraud that permeates our public companies. As a corporate refugee, I can't disagree with Sinek's assessment. I've always been troubled by Friedman's ethics free approach to business in a world without morals or common cause beyond profit maximization. While Sinek provides an outline for companies to convert to the more beneficial infinite game, he doesn't provide a roadmap. That will be the tough part - convincing capital to invest better and take a systemic view.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Maddie Nastase

    It's good to have you back, Simon!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alexander Rivas

    This is such a well-timed book for the internship I have right now because I can see how the company is playing the game they are in. All the case studies in this book reinforce the idea of having an approach to the business your in as an infinite game. This goes contrary to what most businesses do and what seems logical, that nothing lasts forever and milk it for all its worth. Plus you add variables like pleasing the shareholders who seek appreciation and dividends on their investments, and This is such a well-timed book for the internship I have right now because I can see how the company is playing the game they are in. All the case studies in this book reinforce the idea of having an approach to the business your in as an infinite game. This goes contrary to what most businesses do and what seems logical, that nothing lasts forever and milk it for all its worth. Plus you add variables like pleasing the shareholders who seek appreciation and dividends on their investments, and that makes the game more short term and finite. There are also case studies that display the bad that can happen when you play the game as if it is a finite game. Most good advice is contrarian and this philosophy will be something difficult to implement due to it being a long term play. Not everyone is going to want to play the game as if it was infinite. But if the majority of the employees, especially the leadership of the company, approach their work with an infinite game mentality, then you have an advantage. To have a competitive advantage is the holy grail for a company and if a company can sustain that infinite game mentality in an organized way, they will attain the competitive advantage they seek.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Scott Wozniak

    Sinek is a great writer, so the ideas are clear and flow smoothly from one to the other. But what's better than the skill is the power of the big idea. Playing a finite game means thinking short-term, that in order for me to win others have to be cut down, and being too narrow in your measure of success. But when you play the infinite game, then there is still competition, but it's the spurring on of worthy rivals (who are often friends) and building for the long-term, etc. The general Sinek is a great writer, so the ideas are clear and flow smoothly from one to the other. But what's better than the skill is the power of the big idea. Playing a finite game means thinking short-term, that in order for me to win others have to be cut down, and being too narrow in your measure of success. But when you play the infinite game, then there is still competition, but it's the spurring on of worthy rivals (who are often friends) and building for the long-term, etc. The general inspiration is good. The application to business, with specific choices you make differently was excellent. It's still more a philosophical book than a tactical book, but it's a philosophy that makes a big impact on many details.

  8. 5 out of 5

    AJ Payne

    Audiobook. I found this one to be really inspirational. I know a lot of these books are pretty similar in talking about the same ways to be a leader that are meant to inspire, but not all of them hit you the same way - this one really worked for me. Perhaps it’s the time I’m reading it, as I’m developing my own identity as a leader, or maybe it’s just really that good and inspirational, but either way I read it at the right time and am able to put some of the ideas and practices into action right Audiobook. I found this one to be really inspirational. I know a lot of these books are pretty similar in talking about the same ways to be a leader that are meant to inspire, but not all of them hit you the same way - this one really worked for me. Perhaps it’s the time I’m reading it, as I’m developing my own identity as a leader, or maybe it’s just really that good and inspirational, but either way I read it at the right time and am able to put some of the ideas and practices into action right away. Which I suppose is the goal. But I really liked this one.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Joshua

    My bosses need to read this book. Several years ago, the school district I worked for had a superintendent who asked all the leaders in the district to read It Starts With Why. Unfortunately, to use the terminology of this book, the school board is filled with Finite mindsets, and his contract was not renewed. He was replaced with someone who does not think the same way. The current administration should read this book immediately.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jb

    The usual theme of thinking long term and humans first. I like the author tone and voice. Except for overusing Apple and Kodak as examples, this book feels fresher than most on the topic. He is not trying to bend cliche psychological studies into his narrative. The book is just about the logical gain from thinking long term. We all know it but being reminded of it by eloquent author is always nice. Quick and simple read anyways.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Adam Merrifield

    I just finished Simon Sinek's Infinite Game. It's as shallow/thin/obvious as his other work, and certainly repeats the words "infinite" and "finite" ad nauseam, but like all of Simon's work, there are real, solid nuggets of truth that you'll end up using every day. I've even quoted some of it to my team.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dustan Woodhouse

    I took my time with this one. A chapter here, a different book there, then another chapter of this one. A delectable meal that one enjoys returning to over and over. My key thought from this book is that a better company will grow bigger, but it’s a rare thing for a bigger company to grow better.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Adrian Luben

    Great book! ..as all the others from Simon :)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Stuart Ashenbrenner

    Simon Sinek's books on leadership are the BEST there are. This one is no exception. Any book he writes, I will read. They're all on the top of my list of leadership books, along with John Wooden.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Boni Aditya

    So, Simon Sinek decides to publish yet another book about Leadership. No Wonder! His last book - Leaders Eat Last is an epic. His stories reminded of moral science stories that were told over and over again in our childhood. To push us down the path of morality, ethics etc... But there is a stark difference between his previous works and this one, though the content remains the same i.e. Leadership and Professional Ethics! His examples used to be extremely well picked, and apt for the concept So, Simon Sinek decides to publish yet another book about Leadership. No Wonder! His last book - Leaders Eat Last is an epic. His stories reminded of moral science stories that were told over and over again in our childhood. To push us down the path of morality, ethics etc... But there is a stark difference between his previous works and this one, though the content remains the same i.e. Leadership and Professional Ethics! His examples used to be extremely well picked, and apt for the concept being discussed, but this book they seem to be repetitive and almost the same examples were repeated over and over. In his previous books a concept previously discussed was never repeated in another chapter, if it was repeated it was done through an example in a diverse field i.e. he got examples from biology, neurology and other to complement professional behavior. But in this book such an attempt was not made. It is extremely clear that the book is a half-baked attempt to publish a book for the sake of publishing it. This is unlike Simon Sinek, for someone who preaches so much conviction and integrity to get one through the publisher and through the audience. Also, the Finite and Infinite Mindset for corp orates is not his original concept. It is directly taken from Carol Dweck's Mindset book - In which she talks about individuals with fixed mindset vs individuals with growth mindset and also talks about organizations with fixed vs growth mindset. I don't understand how Simon Sinek claims it for his own, when she has done so much about it. But, the books seems to miss the scientific rigor that Simon often brings to these discussions, there is now no science or logic behind this except berating a few leaders and their companies and their strategies. Though the concept of Infinite Game and Playing for the sake or playing while protecting the environment hold true, but they are not really as original as his other ideas. This entire book seems to be a derived work. One area of the book that stood out in stark contrast is when the author talks about his rivalry with another author, albeit a self-imposed competition. Nonetheless, the author goes on to reveal his kryptonite in Adam Grant, but what is interesting is that - This has also been discussed at length by another author by name, Joshua Wolf in his book - Powers of Two. Thus, most of his concepts have already been discusses at length by many other author, when he talks about Navratilova and Lloyd, this example has also been discussed so many times that it has become trite! Thus, it is safe to assume that Simon Sinek is losing his charm! But there is some value addition from the book - Yet, again it is useful for leaders - There is another book with a similar context about grooming leaders - "What got you here won't get you there". The book also adds value, by correctly identifing the parasitic nature of Wall Street, this would the second book that I have read in a week, that identifies the toxic nature of Wall Street and its impact on the immediate and NOW greed vs the long and sustaining greed as preached by the Prudent Capitalists. Wall Street is just a growth lusty and growth greedy, demon preying on all the companies at its sight. Any public company that falls prey to Wall Street will likely live under a constant threat of share price blackmailing! Here is a list of books that the author has mentioned in this work: Books: Finite and infinite games - a vision of life as play and possibility.  James p carse Built to last Good to great Wealth of nations The shareholder value myth Dare to lead Winning - jack Welsh Originals Give and take Leaders eat Last Keywords from the Book: North Vietnam infinite war Apples infinite business, Kodak and swiss army knife resilience. Zune vs iPod, urgent vs important Self preservation and self promotion, loss of trust Glasteegle act Vavilov seedbank - Leningrad Nazi sieze - starvation Just Cause - future State 1. Affirmative - for something 2. Inclusive - open to all 3. Service Oriented - contributor should not be the primary beneficiary 4. Resilience - culture, political 5. Idealistic - unachievable Just cause on paper not on instinct. Just cause vs false cause Just cause vs moonshot Bhag (Big hairy audacious goal) not infinite game Just cause is context for finite, infinite objectives and impossible moonshots Being the best is not a just cause Garment dash mountain Just cause should direct the business model not vice versa. Best product is not a just cause. Growth is not a just cause Money is the fuel for a just cause, not a cause in itself Hyper growth becomes a bane. Growth for the sake of growth, will result in eating for obesity. CSR is not a just cause. Charity, walkathon s or give aways are not just causes. Finite leaders vs infinite leaders Mike Duke vs Sam walton John Scully vs Steve jobs Steve balmer vs bill gates Kevin Rollands vs Micheal Dell Robert nordelli at home Depot CVO - Chief Vision Officer CEO - CFO/COO complementary skill sets, not replacements but partnerships Different career paths Milton Friedman shareholder capitalism vs Adam Smith's consumption capitalism Propensity for self interest - the invisible hand. Shareholder primacy theory Finite minded capitalism vs infinite capitalism Capitalism abuse Laws and ethical customs - are exploited by companies. Friedman's standards. Investors and shareholders behave like renters. Larry fink - open letter - black Rock Stakeholder model and triple bottom line Will and resources Leadership priorities: bias for resources Cost of will: Finite view: employers as costs Infinite view: humans with infinite potential Costco and apple 90 percent retention in retail. Container Store - pay cuts and 401k no match Mercenaries vs zealots Shell Ursa oil rig: Rick fox vs claire noya Transactional relationship vs trusting relationships Safe being vulnerable and asking for help. High performance vs high trust Jack Welch Performance vs potential Hire and promote - high trust persons over high performers with low trust Chief coli - CRPD - circle of trust - listening sessions for truth Officer jake coil Toxic culture vs good performers Fear - in face of fear, we hide the truth Malali in Ford - Bpr s - business plan reviews - green - yellow - red Honesty and accountability die before the feeling of fear Culture = values + behavior Incentive trust Responsible freedom Dirt jumps and donuts CRPD infinite war strategy against drugs. In weak culture - people find safety in rules  In strong culture - they find in relationship Training new leaders. LRC - Leadership Reactionary course Marines in quantico Job of leader = build new leaders Leaders are not responsible for results, They are responsible for people Creating safe environments to be vulnerable around each other. Ethical Fading: Wells Fargo - millions of fake accounts Cutting corners is incentivized And integrity penalized Impossible to meet quotas Incentive to cheat to save job Nobody in Wells Fargo went to jail When good people do bad things: EpiPen - extreme allergy for bees,  Mylan bought EpiPen - Monopoly - 22 percent per year After 15 price hikes it went from 100 $ to 600$ Settled with govt for 465 mil for overcharging Zero guilt - defensive and unapologetic Self-deception: rationalization of ethical Fading Words, euphemism, language Torture vs enhanced interrogation Gamification vs addiction Data mining vs tracking Convenience fee vs surcharge Remove ourselves from the chain of causation and blame the system. Blame consumers for consumer problems Don't like it - then don't buy it. Blaming consumer choices Will to do the right thing vs pressure The good Samaritan experiment for priests Legal vs ethical responsibility Slippery slope of ethical Fading Structure replacing leadership Timesheets Leonard Wong - Lazy leadership Trust on process vs people Process to replace judgement Sodiers checking boxes People problem can only be fixed by people, not training, certification or other processes Patagonia - don't buy this jacket Constant improvement and ethical action Patagonia does not exploit loopholes it closes them. Competitors vs rivals Simon sunek vs Adam grant Winning vs improvement Lloyd vs Navratilova Scarcity vs abundance Turnaround Ford - malali Change the way you play the game GM and Chrysler bailouts endorsed by malali Rivals are part of the ecosystems To keep suppliers in business Pc revolution Navy vs pirates IBM vs apple  Welcome to the PC world ad - one page ad Competitors look for customers vs rivals look for followers Apple vs blackberry Disruption is a symptom of a finite mindset Lost sight of their own vision trying to beat apple 99 percent drop in 4 years Cause blindness: Fail to recognize other points of view John Douglas - criminal profiling  Serial killers vs FBI Don't confuse losing a rival with winning the war No winning in infinite game, USA did not win the cold war, USSR drained of will and resources, and dropped out. USA became unrivaled and imposed it's will over the world. Strong players believe they can control the game and other players. Groupon Uber - examples of leaders neglected people and culture. Coldwar 2.0 Single rival improves focus. Internal squabbles arises, as they see each other as existential threats. Republicans vs Democrats FBI vs NSA etc... Blockbuster vs netflix Taxi companies vs uber Sears vs Walmart and e-commerce Infinite player without a worthy rival slides into finite game Existential Flexibility: Walt Disney - existential flex Animated film that could elicit emotions - snow white and seven dwarfs - full feature length Idyllic childhood - Elias Disney - failed farm - move to city from marsilline Roy wanted to take company public. Walt Disney left Disney and formed WED, to built Disney Land Better way to advance your just cause. Strategic shifts might be Reactionary while existential flex is offensive. Shiny object syndrome vs existential flex Protecting the business model (finite) vs the cause (infinite)  Look outside the industry and beyond the horizon. Apple - invest in GUI, change course and build product from scratch. If you don't blow it up someone will Kodak Eastman 1975 - first digital camera - challenged their business model Steven Sassoon - failed to convince the leaders to adopt digital. Reconfigure the company to advance the cause. Short term hell to long term just cause. Nikon and Fuji introduce me fully digital camera 10 years later - 1988 Kodak made billions from patents Strong balance sheet does not make a strong company. 2007 patents expired and Kodak declared bankruptcy in 2012 Existential inflexibility. The Courage to Lead: CVS - stopped selling cigarettes losing 2billion in revenue Cigarette sales decreased by 1 percent while Nicotine patch sales rose by 4 percent Other brands are now willing to associate with CVS Pressure to succumb to finite game is overwhelming. Courage to change mindset The power of purpose: America west: Doug parker meets Mary - flight attendant Mid contract raises amid protests from wall Street analysts Wall greens vs CVS  Cigarette sales Leadership courage - integrity not damage control. Companies and leadership straying off course Employees mirror leaders

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    Would give it 6 stars if possible. Amazing book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin Marcher

    Do yourself a favor and read the source material instead of this hyper-opinionated book. While the author does do a lot of work to make good points and detail different companies and institutions that have made finite and infinite choices, he often looses track of his point, and rambles for pages, oft repeating himself back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back to back until you're glad you read this book from a friend to ensure he receives no royalties.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sri Shivananda

    I loved this book! Life, business and leadership are infinite games. They are that are not bound by a window of time, players or fixed rules. They are not measured in wins and losses, but, the concept of being ahead or falling behind. Simon talks about playing the long term game with a just cause for which becomes a singular purpose, building trusting teams, having worthy rivals, being strategically flexible and having courage. Gems in every chapter. As I listened, it caused me to pause, smile, I loved this book! Life, business and leadership are infinite games. They are that are not bound by a window of time, players or fixed rules. They are not measured in wins and losses, but, the concept of being ahead or falling behind. Simon talks about playing the long term game with a just cause for which becomes a singular purpose, building trusting teams, having worthy rivals, being strategically flexible and having courage. Gems in every chapter. As I listened, it caused me to pause, smile, express surprise and just absorb it all! I will probably repeat it again soon.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bruno

    Simon Sinek is on a mission. He wants to improve business and personal life by showing that we need to focus on the “infinite game”. Not the “finite” focus on next-quarter earnings, not even the ambitious but time-driven “moonshots”, but those games where there is no no real “end” or “winner”. To him, this makes those business much more robust, with plenty of opportunity for flexibility and improvement. Simon Sinek, with his knowledge and charisma (check his YouTube channel) focusses here on a Simon Sinek is on a mission. He wants to improve business and personal life by showing that we need to focus on the “infinite game”. Not the “finite” focus on next-quarter earnings, not even the ambitious but time-driven “moonshots”, but those games where there is no no real “end” or “winner”. To him, this makes those business much more robust, with plenty of opportunity for flexibility and improvement. Simon Sinek, with his knowledge and charisma (check his YouTube channel) focusses here on a much overdue correction we need to bring to our daily life. There is no such thing as “winning” and “losing” – we should all be in it for the long run. Some players may join, some may quit because they lost the will and resources to do so – but that doesn’t make it a winnable game, that’s just the nature of the game. This infinite game in business means creating a culture that focusses on a Just Cause. This is not a charitable goal, but something that motivates and focusses both employees and customers. An “infinite” leader must therefore focus not on the small operational details, but on creating that culture and that drive towards this Just Cause. This also means, to make it really infinite, that leaders must create something that can survive themselves. This is probably the hardest thing to do. Every boss of a company can squeeze out the percentages here and there to make more profit, but creating something that should and must survive yourself, takes some openness and humility. Sinek points out that it is not the leader that makes it succeed, but all the people that have joined the Just Cause, in a trusting relationship to one another. The boss is “chief vision officer”, whose job is to make everyone understand the Just Cause and help all others advance towards it. The Just Cause is defined as For Something (optimistic, not against something), Inclusive (all can join who want to), Service oriented (primary benefit for others), Resilient (endure change) and idealistic (big, bold and ultimately unachievable). He pokes fun at multiple “mission statements” and other “visions” of finite companies, and I learned that I should look at the order of words in such statements. If shareholders or products are upfront, then it’s a finite company… In explaining his theory, Sinek references several business and political (US) examples. It’s a bit anecdotal, but mostly this illustrates also that it is not easy, and everyone struggles to keep the right path. “Ethical fading” is a real possibility, and even the best companies may lose sight of the Just Cause. He vaunts the really strong leaders who can understand that sometimes an Existential Flex, a pivot-point is needed to regain the direction towards the Just Cause. Even if the company is doing well and could focus a couple of years on “defending” itself. For Sinek, that is a sin to be avoided, and he gives multiple examples where this sort of behavior leads to the company’s demise. What would be the benefit of such an infinite-minded company? Anecdotally, but it makes sense, Sinek says that ultimately these will fare better than their finite counterparts. Not only will they last longer as a company, but the fierce loyalty of employees and customers because of this vision will create a much more performant company. By focusing on this, Sinek also defends himself. He considers himself a capitalist, and still thinks profit and money is important. However, that money is a means to a higher end, and some arbitrary short-term target should not be mistaken as the ultimate end of a company. Moreover, by creating a culture where values are applied by all layers of the company, and where behavior that leads to the betterment of all, not just one person or group of persons, capitalism is, according to the original definition of Adam Smith, served the best. Bringing ethical considerations within business makes those business better and stronger, and even more profitable. Do you have the Courage to Lead?

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jaron Dunford

    Notes: Organization often choose to put their efforts into building process to fix the problems rather than building support for their people. In 1973, two Princeton university psychology professors, John M. Darley and C Daniel Batson conducted an experiment to better understand how situational variables can affect our ethics, specifically, how pressure impacts our will to help someone in distress. They asked a group of seminary students to travel across campus to give a talk about the story of Notes: Organization often choose to put their efforts into building process to fix the problems rather than building support for their people. In 1973, two Princeton university psychology professors, John M. Darley and C Daniel Batson conducted an experiment to better understand how situational variables can affect our ethics, specifically, how pressure impacts our will to help someone in distress. They asked a group of seminary students to travel across campus to give a talk about the story of the good samaritan. To recreate the scene, the professors hired an actor to lie in an alley, slumped over like he had been mugged or hurt in some way. The students would have to pass him as they made their way across campus. Each time the experiment was conducted with a different group of students, the professors added a bit of pressure to see how the students behavior would change. One group had a lot of pressure, You're Late, they were expecting you a few minutes ago. Another group had medium pressure, the assistant is ready, please head over now. And the final group had only slight pressure added to them, it will be a few minutes before they are ready for you, but can get headed now. When there was low pressure, 63 percent of students stopped to help the man. Medium pressure, 45 percent stopped to help someone in apparent distress. High pressure, 10 percent of the students stopped. Some even stepped right over him. The students were good people who cared about service. They were all studying to be priests. However, when pressure was placed upon them, in this case time pressure, their will to do the right thing gave way to demands placed on them. After losing every game the coach would tell his players it doesn't matter who wins or loses, what matters is how you played. At which point a kid asked why do we keep score? When we play in a finite game, we play the game to win. The motivation to play an infinite game is completely different - the goal is not to win, but to keep playing. The choice to lead with an infinite mindset is less like preparing for a football game and more like the decision to get into shape. There is no one thing we can do in order to get into shape. We can't simply go to the gym for nine hours and expect to be in shape. However, if we go to the gym every single day for twenty minutes, we will absolutely get into shape. Consistency becomes more important than intensity. When we play with a finite mindset in the infinite game, we will continue to make decisions that sabotage our own ambitions. It's like eating too many desserts in the name of enjoying life only to make oneself diabetic in the process.

  21. 4 out of 5

    jaga

    Most today, whether in business, government or other arenas are playing finite games. In other words, a short term orientation, which is more about winning and losing, than a long term, possibly even lifelong effort to pursue a just cause or purpose. The business world is littered with examples of finite thinking, with individuals and companies more concerned around quarterly EPS and / or their own monetary remuneration. The Wells Fargo case of a few years ago, where millions of fictitious Most today, whether in business, government or other arenas are playing finite games. In other words, a short term orientation, which is more about winning and losing, than a long term, possibly even lifelong effort to pursue a just cause or purpose. The business world is littered with examples of finite thinking, with individuals and companies more concerned around quarterly EPS and / or their own monetary remuneration. The Wells Fargo case of a few years ago, where millions of fictitious accounts were set up for customers is an extreme, but not totally unique example of how finite thinking can lead to catastrophic results. Infinite games cannot be won, the goal is to keep on playing, to stay in the game. Infinite games often are based on a just cause, something by definition bigger than ourselves. We see similar phenomena in our politics as well, where an individual or party’s interest are placed above those of the country or institutions which are the foundation of our democracy. Where, instead of focusing on the daily news cycle or the next election, the focus is on building a better world over the next generations, even beyond the lifetimes of the individuals involved. The irony is that those willing to approach business or other pursuits with an infinite mindset often lead to even better, more sustainable long term benefits, even in the context of a financially driven business endeavor. Sinek traces today’s winner vs loser approach to business back to Milton Friedman, whose work almost half a century ago was based on the foundational premise that businesses exist to maximize the profits accruing to their owners. In more recent years, there has been several trends which are on one hand encouraging (employee wellness, work / life balance, etc) and on the other discouraging (quarterly EPS trumping all other considerations). Sinek provides a vivid picture of the different mindsets and implications of a finite vs infinite approach. While I’m not sure this book would directly result in changing the approach of those infinite game players among us, it does facilitate greater awareness of how our choices may lead to a better place.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Scott Martin

    (Audiobook) This reads like a business-book-of-the-week, but it does impart some very important, and relevant lessons for leaders at all levels. To Sinek, leaders can try to play two different games with their leadership: The Finite Game, or the Infinite Game. The former will show more immediate results, and can result in accolades and successes, especially by many of the measurements by modern business and organizations. Yet, the Finite Game is fraught with pratfalls and significant problems. (Audiobook) This reads like a business-book-of-the-week, but it does impart some very important, and relevant lessons for leaders at all levels. To Sinek, leaders can try to play two different games with their leadership: The Finite Game, or the Infinite Game. The former will show more immediate results, and can result in accolades and successes, especially by many of the measurements by modern business and organizations. Yet, the Finite Game is fraught with pratfalls and significant problems. The desire to win and win quickly leads many leaders to take shortcuts, look only at the short term, and sees ethical and moral decisions go out the window. Quarterly earnings reports drive many things in business and in the military/government, quick decisive action is seen as critical to successful leadership. Yet, for those that can see the bigger, longer-term picture, that can account for ethics and morals, and not allow the pressures for the quick win to disrupt the goal of true success and fulfillment, the Infinite Game offers a way for leaders to move forward. Sinek offers many examples to back up this view on leadership, noting that such leaders who took the longer view, attempting to develop people, not results, managed to achieve greater and more longer lasting successes. In technology, business, government...those who took the longer view (playing the Infinite Game) came out ahead and in better shape than those who sought the Finite Game. Which is the right way? Depends on what your end-state is. If you want longer lasting success, take the guide offered here. Want a short-term win, and don’t care about lasting impacts? Take the other route. It is thought-provoking and any leader should at least give this work a review. Whatever path you choose, it is worth your time to review this subject. Either version (audiobook or hard copy) will work.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Davor

    A great addition to Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take ActionStart with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action with yet another very simple idea: true winners are the ones who play the infinite game. This means that even if a decision might have negative consequences short-term, it is the long—or perhaps as the author describes it—the infinite game which really counts. In other words, this is yet another sobering perspective on the "why" behind every A great addition to Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take ActionStart with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action with yet another very simple idea: true winners are the ones who play the infinite game. This means that even if a decision might have negative consequences short-term, it is the long—or perhaps as the author describes it—the infinite game which really counts. In other words, this is yet another sobering perspective on the "why" behind every endeavor. Through many interesting examples, it describes how aligning with, and staying true to core values, vision and mission, is the only sustainable way of winning at the infinite game. Playing the finite game and chasing short-term goals, such as arbitrary profit goals set by a company's leadership group, leads to devaluing the true mission and most deleterious of all, devaluing the people - employees and customers alike. It is a simple idea, but one which nevertheless deserves to be observed from a number of different angles, since in today's world it may seem counter-intuitive to the most. In this day and age, where everything is tracked an measured, it is easier than ever to fall victim of analytics. Chasing quarterly or yearly figures turns business into a rat race. But it doesn't, and definitely shouldn't, be that way.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kurt Pankau

    Sinek's basic premise is to take the idea that long-term choices are stronger than short-term ones for the overall health of a company and expand on it using game theory. He splits business leaders into two mindsets: finite and infinite, that is, focused on short-term profits and growth versus focused on the long-term health of the company. He posits that companies should have a broad, affirmative, aspirational goal that speaks to the betterment of all humankind and that this should guide them Sinek's basic premise is to take the idea that long-term choices are stronger than short-term ones for the overall health of a company and expand on it using game theory. He splits business leaders into two mindsets: finite and infinite, that is, focused on short-term profits and growth versus focused on the long-term health of the company. He posits that companies should have a broad, affirmative, aspirational goal that speaks to the betterment of all humankind and that this should guide them rather than simply focusing on profits and shareholder value (he summarily dismisses Milton Friedman's "a company's first duty is to increase profits for shareholders" and blames that outlook for the economic rollercoaster that followed the early 80s boom). An "infinite" mindset keeps companies from being defensive and reactionary when markets are shocked or disrupted, and allows them to pivot towards opportunities. He further posits that a company's true duty is to its ethical integrity and to its people--ensuring that its people feel safe and valued instead of simply trying to extract results. Focusing on people over processes and support of a vision over driving metrics is the best long-term strategy, and Sinek lays out a series of case studies to support this that includes Wal-Mart, Microsoft under Ballmer, Disney, RiM (Blackberry), and Facebook. A lot of the ideas being argued and support here are foundational to Agile Software Development, which is something that's important to me and my work, so reading this book was eye-opening. That said, it's not a technical book. Indeed, the philosophy here starts to lean a little "crunchy" in places. But it was a lean book that gave me a lot to chew on and it's one I anticipate re-reading soon. Strong recommend!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    Infinite game Most people play to the finite game, trying to win with defined metrics. So they win in the short term but lose over the long term. We must play the very long game to succeed. How? 1. Advance a just cause: serve others, inclusive, idealistic, never finished. Not moonshots, being the best, corporate social responsibility. Milton Friedman’s myopic focus on profits alone has caused all the problems of society, and we need to go back to Adam Smith. 2. Build trusting teams. Don’t lay Infinite game Most people play to the finite game, trying to win with defined metrics. So they win in the short term but lose over the long term. We must play the very long game to succeed. How? 1. Advance a just cause: serve others, inclusive, idealistic, never finished. Not moonshots, being the best, corporate social responsibility. Milton Friedman’s myopic focus on profits alone has caused all the problems of society, and we need to go back to Adam Smith. 2. Build trusting teams. Don’t lay people off but try to ask people to sacrifice. Connect to coworkers emotionally. 3. Study your worthy rivals 4. Prepare for existential flexibility. Disrupt yourself. 5. Demonstrate the courage to lead. Do the right thing even if Wall Street is unhappy. Customers will support doing the right thing. An inspiring book with many contrasting examples of leaders who play the finite vs the infinite game. However, readers are advices to also read James O’Tool’s The Enlightened Capitalists in which even when enlightened capitalists succeed, their successors quickly reverse their enlightened practices. Maybe that’s why these inspiring books will always be written, and then Friedman’s disciples will return capitalism to its most selfish conclusion.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Vivek Gupta

    Infinite Game by Simon Sinek is a groundbreaking book. I am of course biased. I am a huge Simon Sinek fan. But I am not just a fan, I share in his vision. His vision being “to build a world in which the vast majority of us wake up every single morning inspired, feel safe at work and return home fulfilled at the end of the day.” In Infinite Game, Simon talks about the infinite game that we all play in in different aspects of our lives (Personal, Society, Politics and Business). Realizing that the Infinite Game by Simon Sinek is a groundbreaking book. I am of course biased. I am a huge Simon Sinek fan. But I am not just a fan, I share in his vision. His vision being “to build a world in which the vast majority of us wake up every single morning inspired, feel safe at work and return home fulfilled at the end of the day.” In Infinite Game, Simon talks about the infinite game that we all play in in different aspects of our lives (Personal, Society, Politics and Business). Realizing that the objective is not to win but the objective is to play the game and perpetuate it, is fundamental to his thesis and would be a revelation to many readers. Simon is a self professed optimist, a modern day philosopher and a genius. His latest book will lift you up with his vision and at the same time make you very uncomfortable. What he proposes is really hard. Like really really hard. Corporate behavior is primarily driven by incentive structures or as Clayton Christensen would call “Profit Formula”. Not by ethics. So changing that, or going against it or giving up revenue for what’s ethical is really really hard. But it’s something to aspire to and something we should all strive for. We all need an infinite mindset. In business and in life

  27. 4 out of 5

    Diana Suddreth

    In the Infinite Game, Simon Sinek gives us a different perspective on leadership in organizations where the goal is a vision that will never be reached. Although his examples are all in the business world, where acting like the dollar is the goal instead of adhering to the vision the business began with, I couldn't help but make connections to education. Even though each year has an end, and each student eventually ends their career as a public school student, in fact, the educating of our youth In the Infinite Game, Simon Sinek gives us a different perspective on leadership in organizations where the goal is a vision that will never be reached. Although his examples are all in the business world, where acting like the dollar is the goal instead of adhering to the vision the business began with, I couldn't help but make connections to education. Even though each year has an end, and each student eventually ends their career as a public school student, in fact, the educating of our youth is an infinite game and should be treated as such. Each of Sinek's chapters--Just cause, will and resources, trusting teams, ethical fading, worth rival and existential flexibility--can be applied to education. Sometimes it seems that education has lost sight of its just cause, even though it should be obvious that educating happy, productive people is more important than test scores (the "dollar" of schools?). It's not that either the dollar or the test scores aren't important, it's that they aren't the just cause. And, unfortunately, the wrong focus has led to dysfunctional teams, ethical fading, and an inability to flex to meet current needs. For me, this was a kernel to begin thinking about how educational leadership could change for the better.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Meyer

    Finite games have a beginning and an ending, a winner and a loser. Infinite games have no ending, and can’t ever really declare a winner. If those are the differences between finite and infinite games, how does it apply to businesses? That’s the thought behind this book. In business there is no declared winner, the idea is to have no end in sight, and yet too many businesses operate with the exact opposite mindset. They set out to “beat the competition” never realizing there’s no way to really Finite games have a beginning and an ending, a winner and a loser. Infinite games have no ending, and can’t ever really declare a winner. If those are the differences between finite and infinite games, how does it apply to businesses? That’s the thought behind this book. In business there is no declared winner, the idea is to have no end in sight, and yet too many businesses operate with the exact opposite mindset. They set out to “beat the competition” never realizing there’s no way to really do that. So where does that leave them? That’s what this book tackles. The author does an incredible job explaining how to have an infinite mindset, how to build trust in your team (and how crucial it is to the entire organization for the leaders to build trust), how to find and focus on the purpose of the organization, and how to not get caught up in the win-lose myth in business. If you run any organization, or help run it in any capacity, you need to read this book! The author uses examples from Apple, Disney, American Airlines, Walmart, Kodak, CVS, and many many more. He constantly explains pitfalls to watch out for, and shows the damages of a finite mindset, and benefits of an infinite one. Highly, highly recommend it!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Pankaj

    A fantastic read from Simon Sinek, very insightful and highly inspiring. It has all that we expect from Simon's writing. It begins with some of the well-known thoughts that Simon has been talking for some time and slowly advances to a deeper level where we get immersed into the finite and infinite mindset. This is applicable not only in the world of business but pretty much any conversation we indulge in or to any aspect of life, we have a choice of being in a finite minded game and accordingly A fantastic read from Simon Sinek, very insightful and highly inspiring. It has all that we expect from Simon's writing. It begins with some of the well-known thoughts that Simon has been talking for some time and slowly advances to a deeper level where we get immersed into the finite and infinite mindset. This is applicable not only in the world of business but pretty much any conversation we indulge in or to any aspect of life, we have a choice of being in a finite minded game and accordingly provide a finite solution or acknowledge and develop an infinite mindset and direct it to a more holistic viewpoint and drive to a long-term fulfilment. Book has brilliantly addressed the limitations of numbers, facts and tangible short term goals and equally emphasised on how difficult it is for a large & stable organisation or career to move away from the obvious, take risks and dare to go into unknown and furthermore serve to a just cause. Very very well narrated to the point of an addiction :) and you would want to complete this book in a couple of sittings if time allows. A must-read..!!!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Josvillie

    Thank you, Simon Sinek! Personally, The Infinite Game is an eye opener. It reminds how our lives are finite, but life is infinite. We are the finite players in the infinite game of life. We come and go, we’re born and we die but life still continues without us. We often take life for granted with a perception on hustling for what we thought “best” or “winning after the finish line” when truth to be told; no matter how much money we make, no matter how much power we accumulate, no matter how many Thank you, Simon Sinek! Personally, The Infinite Game is an eye opener. It reminds how our lives are finite, but life is infinite. We are the finite players in the infinite game of life. We come and go, we’re born and we die but life still continues without us. We often take life for granted with a perception on hustling for what we thought “best” or “winning after the finish line” when truth to be told; no matter how much money we make, no matter how much power we accumulate, no matter how many promotions we’re given, none of us will be declared the winner of life. Our career is just one example of what people “measures” in succeeding. Someone might be better at parenting, friendship, learning, or creativity. The possibility is endless. In this book, Sinek shares his insights more onto business. To succeed in the Infinite Game of business, we have to stop thinking about who wins or who’s best and start thinking about investing on how to build organisations that are strong and healthy enough to stay in the game for many generations to come.

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