What is the Infinite Game?
The Infinite Game is a book written by Simon Sinek, based on the concept of two different types of games, finite and infinite. The first type is one that we are all familiar with: the players and rules are known, the game has a distinctive end where the overall objective is to end the game and declare a winner. Sports are a very good example of finite games.
An infinite game, on the other hand, has known and unknown rules, known and unknown players and the game never ends. The purpose of the game is that it’s played to keep the game going. It doesn’t stop because there is no winner. Popular examples of infinite games are politics, peace, knowledge and life.
The underlying premise of this theory is that any organization that wants to win needs to stop thinking about winning but instead build resilient companies that don’t die just because the owner no longer wants to be in business. In this infinite mindset, the business is bigger than the people in it.
As a marketing strategy consultant, I’ve come across businesses that think that if they complete X, then they’re done. They’re finished playing the game of business and leads will just continue to flow like a waterfall to their doorsteps. The simple fact is that there is no blueprint and no end date to business success. It’s an iterative, ongoing, continuous process.
We’re going to use this blog to explore the concept of the infinite game and how your zeal to stay ahead is much more likely if you adopt an infinite mindset.
A game without end or winner
Let’s think a little more about a game that doesn’t have a winner. Marriage and fitness are everyday infinite games: you can’t win either, there is no trophy at the end. Both are things that you constantly work at if you want them to get better over time. It’s not about saying that if you can get your husband to agree on X, you’ll be happy forever. Or if you exercise for eight hours once, you’ll get in shape.
Business is no different. Simon Sinek explores how business works within the confines of an infinite game: players come and go as resources allow and the game continues forever. There are no winners because you can’t “win” business. Companies can sell more products or services than their competitors but there is no finish line. Just ahead and behind. The difference lies in the leaders at the company and whether they have the infinite mindset that seeks continuous improvement to achieve the company’s vision.
Sinek refers to Microsoft and Apple as a great example of large players with different mindsets in the infinite game of business. During the 80s, Microsoft spent much of its time trying to find ways to beat Apple. Apple, in sharp contrast, concentrated on how to build products that would help teachers teach and students learn.
Applying the Infinite Game to your marketing strategy
If you apply Infinite Game theory to your marketing strategy, then you need to toss out all previous ideas of winning, ROI or cost savings. Too much thinking of the metrics or your shareholders can lead to decline in non-tangible areas of your business like trust, cooperation, and innovation.
An organization with an infinite mindset looks at the business environment in which it operates and asks the questions: are our people working at their personal best? Are our people in a position at work where they feel safe to speak out, where they don’t need to lie, hide or act fake? Leadership with an infinite mindset is not about being in charge of your people, it’s about fostering the people you manage. This kind of mindset, this process of leadership is organic and it’s forever. It’s a lifestyle, not a fad.
So, from a marketing consulting perspective, here are my thoughts for adopting the kind of infinite mindset that will stand you head and shoulders above your competitors:
Invest in ideas, not ROI
I get that business decisions need to make financial sense but if you’re always focused on making something cheap, you will never stand out. The ROI will come as you refine your idea and continue to support its growth.
- Do what you believe in
Invest in marketing strategies that you believe in: and only then decide your budget. The more data you get will tell you if you should continue to invest in your belief
- Executing, not budgeting
Marketing strategy is all about great, flawless execution. If your marketing team is only focused on cost savings, they will never develop the best iteration of your idea. Focus on the activities that will allow you to see if your idea has legs and allow your team to run with it.
- The best marketing ideas aren’t always your first ideas
Take an idea, try it, and then evaluate its worth. If it’s no good, or no good for right now, change it or pivot the idea for future activities. You never know what you’re going to learn when you pivot on an idea.
Want to talk to a marketing strategy consultant about how we can help your business start to think a little differently? Call us at (615) 219-9181.
Become a thought leader in your industry
- Share the wealth of your ideas far and wide: talk about how you believe your industry should be better with your peers, bosses, colleagues, and friends. Find concrete examples of what you can do now, to make things better.
- Help those that work for you to understand your vision. Teams that trust each other and their leaders are more productive, less likely to leave and great ambassadors for your brand.
Start helping your local communities
- Whether it’s providing advice on how your neighbor’s business could start to engage with an infinite mindset or just providing free help to local and industry-specific non-profit organizations. Start local and help those in your community to succeed: it will pay dividends.
Stop trying to convince people to buy from you
- Don’t try to convince people to buy from you; you don’t need any kind of trick or sneaky route. Start informing your wider audiences of the value you can offer as a service provider. This could be through information on your website, using social media platforms or word-of-mouth referrals.