This is a paradigm that really resonates with me.

Perhaps the timing has something to do with it, as I read this book during the COVID-19 pandemic and feel that the impact of a finite mindset versus the infinite (or legacy) mindset is becoming increasingly obvious to all.

I found myself nodding in agreement when the author outlined how many of us act as if we are participating in a finite game. One where we can clearly identify the rules of the game, where there is a clear beginning, middle and end and what we are playing for is understood by all. It’s just not possible to do so! While we may claim we will achieve the status of being Number One. Over what time frame? Relative to whom? What are the geographic boundaries? We identify our competitors, yet it’s possible that we are invisible to them! We set, then manage then celebrate achieving targets according to our time frames and choose the resources we will assign to achieving them. This is all done without reference to other players, their time frames or their achievements. So there truly is no Finite Game.

The alternative is to understand that the business game is infinite and to ask ourselves what the legacy is that we would like to leave. Why does our business exist? What is its role? We are guided by the Just Cause or “Something Bigger Than Oneself” and keep it front of mind. It’s our ‘True North’ that guides the shorter-term goals. We still set targets, then manage, then celebrate what we achieve. It’s just that the Cause, that something bigger, is the foundation for all.

In an extremely difficult and dynamic environment, the loss of income or plummeting value of a business encourages the leadership with a Finite Game mindset to ‘throw in the towel” as they will not be achieving the results relative to their scorecard. By contrast, businesses being guided by their Cause are more likely to hold steady. We will make adjustments to what we do and how we do it, but we will keep our eyes on the horizon. That will keep us going when it’s tough, inspire us to consider a different approach even. We look to hunker down in the short term to increase the odds of our survival for the longer term.

So, we are more likely to achieve long term success when we work from a paradigm where we focus on:

  • The Purpose (The Just Cause)
  • The People (Our Employees and Customers)
  • and ONLY then the Profits

Reading this has made me re-examine my business approach again, and commit myself to The Infinite Game. What would you change in your business if your plan revolved around for the long term, for example the next 100 years? How would that impact the decisions you are making today? From the publishers write up, “Leaders who embrace an infinite mindset build stronger, more innovative, more inspiring organizations. Ultimately, they are the ones who lead us into the future.”

Although there were missing quotes, and in fact the whole of chapter 13 was missing, from my ARC I came away feeling that I need to add a hard copy to my reference library. With thanks to #NetGalley, Penguin Group Portfolio, and the author for my free advanced reader copy to review in exchange for an honest opinion.

From the back cover:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last, a bold framework for leadership in today’s ever-changing world.

How do we win a game that has no end? Finite games, like football or chess, have known players, fixed rules and a clear endpoint. The winners and losers are easily identified. Infinite games, games with no finish line, like business or politics, or life itself, have players who come and go. The rules of an infinite game are changeable while infinite games have no defined endpoint. There are no winners or losers—only ahead and behind.

The question is, how do we play to succeed in the game we’re in?

In this revelatory new book, Simon Sinek offers a framework for leading with an infinite mindset. On one hand, none of us can resist the fleeting thrills of a promotion earned or a tournament won, yet these rewards fade quickly. In pursuit of a Just Cause, we will commit to a vision of a future world so appealing that we will build it week after week, month after month, year after year. Although we do not know the exact form this world will take, working toward it gives our work and our life meaning.

Leaders who embrace an infinite mindset build stronger, more innovative, more inspiring organizations. Ultimately, they are the ones who lead us into the future.