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About the Author
Simon is an unshakable optimist who believes in a bright future and our ability to build it together.
Described as “a visionary thinker with a rare intellect,” Simon teaches leaders and organizations how to inspire people. With a bold goal to help build a world in which the vast majority of people wake up every single day feeling inspired, feel safe at work, and feel fulfilled at the end of the day, Simon is leading a movement to inspire people to do the things that inspire them.
Simon is the author of multiple best-selling books including Start With Why, Leaders Eat Last, Together is Better, and Find Your Why and The Infinite Game.
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About the Book
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 Simon started to understand the difference between finite and infinite games, the more he began to see infinite games all around us. He 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.
Simon now believes 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.
Listen to Simon talking more about the infinite game, and its impact on company culture, on the Culture Amp podcast here.
Join the 48million other people who have watched Simon’s famous ‘golden circle’ TED talk here
The biggest idea in the book is the notion of looking at business and life as an infinite game. Not a game to be played to win, but a game that is played for the sheer objective of staying in the game.
BIG IDEA 1 (5:08) – The need to have a just cause.
Simon is famous for popularising the concept of companies and individuals having a purpose or a ‘why’. In this book he argues that to play an infinite game you also need a just cause.
The difference between your why and your just cause is that your ‘why’ is who you are and your ‘just cause’ is your vision for the future. The five rules to define your ‘just cause’ are it must be for something, it must be inclusive, it must be service-oriented, it must be resilient (or future proof) and it should be idealistic.
Growth or being the best do not equal a ‘just cause’ because they don’t meet many of the rules to define a ‘just cause’. The same thing with your social corporate responsibility activities; it’s a good thing to do but it doesn’t add up to a just cause.
The best example of ‘just cause’ is from Sam Walton the founder of Walmart; having the lowest prices anytime, anywhere and lowering the cost of living for everyday people. It’s has to be something that is infinite, will continue to be relevant and will make you continue to strive for it.
BIG IDEA 2 (8:24) – Find a worthy rival.
Simon and Adam Grant saw each other as worthy rivals. A worthy rival will keep you honest and striving. It doesn’t make you want to cheat but the opposite effect, is makes you want to stay in the game and make you strive to be better. A worthy rival can also be someone you don’t want to be like. You want them to stay in the game to make you want to keep striving.
Another good example is Apple and IBM, sometimes you need your worthy rival to make the market bigger. When IBM entered the personal computing industry, Apple took out a full page advert to welcome them to the revolution. They needed IBM to be in that market to a) increase the size of the market and b) give them something to ‘push’ against and make Apple stand out with their ‘think different’ approach.
BIG IDEA 3 (12:47) – Finite vs infinite leadership.
Simon argues that your CEO should be your CVO or chief vision officer. However a challenge is that CFOs or COOs are often next in line to the key leadership positions. Most of the time they are great managers and excellent at keeping the business moving, but are not great visionaries.
It’s important for the organisation to create an environment for trust and the culture of doing the right thing. Simon says culture = values + behaviours.
There was a concept in the book about ethical fading, when everyone starts doing things that are a bit questionable. What was ultimately rewarded was the wrong behaviour, which then drove further ethical fading. As an infinite leader you need to challenge what is happening, create an environment where people can be honest, think and act for the longer term and play to stay in the game.
Music By: Vuelta al Sol Song by Tomas Novoa
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