Cover Image: The Infinite Game

The Infinite Game

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Member Reviews

I love everything that comes from Simon Sinek, however I felt this was just a recap of everything else he has already said, and nothing new to consider.
Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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There’s an important message in Simon Sinek’s The Infinite Game that’s become all the more timely in the post-COVID-19 world.

Too often, we view the world in terms of zero-sum game where the only acceptable outcome is winning. Yet this is not always true. Yes, some of our interactions in life boil down to games where there are clear winners and clear losers—those games are finite. But more often than not some games are infinite, to use the terminology of Professor James Carse, where the real objective is to keep playing as long as possible. To the extent that we can distinguish between the two, we would likely make better decisions in work and life.

It’s the difference between getting the degree and actually learning. Or being tactical to beat the competition versus acting strategically to grow a business. Or dealing transactionally as opposed to being in it for the long haul.

Adopting an infinite mindset, therefore, is critical to putting decisions in perspective. This is all the more true for people tasked to lead organizations, the crux of which Sinek summarizes succinctly as follows:

There are three factors we must always consider when deciding how we want to lead:

1) We don’t get to choose whether a particular game is finite or infinite.

2) We do get to choose whether or not we want to join the game.

3) Should we choose to join the game, we can choose to play with a finite or an infinite mindset.

It’s a simple framework, and Sinek advocates for it convincingly in The Infinite Game. This is notwithstanding his occasional bending of the narrative to conveniently suit his thesis, as in the manner he characterizes the philosophies of Adam Smith (which Sinek praises, albeit with an incorrect interpretation) and Milton Friedman (which Sinek derides based on an overly simplistic interpretation). Nonetheless, The Infinite Game arguably acquires renewed relevance in the post-COVID-19 world, where all of a sudden a lot of our pursuits under the “old normal” may no longer seem so important under the “new,” and where we are compelled to take a much broader view as we rise to the challenge of building the latter.

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I finished this book feeling inspired and hopeful for a future where companies and groups care more about the greater good than making more money and “beating the competition”. I hope other’s who read this book will also feel inspired to lead more infinite lives so than when their finite lifespan ends, their infinite good deeds will keep living in this world.

Simon Sinek does a good job at explaining the concepts of finite and infinite games through real stories of well-known companies and historical events like the Vietnam War or Vavilov’s seed bank. I got a clear idea of the subject and also found it very interesting to learn about the inner workings of businesses like Apple, Victorinox, J.P. Morgan and Kodak as well as inspirational figures like Walt Disney. These stories reminded me of the human part in companies. Not just faceless giants, but real people making good and bad decisions.

For most of the book, he teaches us what are the 5 practices of an infinite game, starting by having a Just Cause. A lot of care is put into explaining what is and what isn’t a Just Cause from a business perspective. As I understood it, this first practice is the core ingredient for building an infinite game. The other 4 practices are: Trusting teams, Worthy rival, Existential flexibility and Courage to lead. Each of them important and fatal for the future of companies when out of balance. Even if this book is mostly about how to play an infinite game from a business perspective, the main concepts can be easily used for other life situations.

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I’ve been fortunate to see Sinek speak live and he’s great delivering previous messages. This topic wasn’t as revelatory. I was also disappointed with the delivery. His attempt to open each chapter with a bit of dramatic storytelling to set up concepts sometimes was a miss and led me to scratch my head over the Why? The one that still makes me go Huh? was the Zoo. It just seemed to sensationalize rather than really set up and illuminate the chapter’s topic.

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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 score card. 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 The Infinite Game 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.

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After "Start with why" Simon Sinek progresses the conversation and expands it further. He tells stories about corporations having infinite mindset. He talks about how some corporations only focus on what their competition is doing and always try to beat them whereas others follow their own journey to inspire others. He also talks about leaders who propagate an infinite mindset in the organisation and how some leaders ruin it. This does not only apply to a company but also to several countries. He emphasises on the importance of identifying the right causes and purposes behind taking decisions. .

Several chapters in the book seem repetitive to me and conveys the same idea in different words. The word "infinite mindset" must have been used a thousand times perhaps for the emphasis.

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I had trouble getting into this, but I liked it once I started. I learned some things that will be useful in my life and career.

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The Infinite Game makes clear why short-term gains and the notion of "winning" can undercut the very goals of a business to survive and thrive. There is no expiring clock or final score. Competitors don't even agree on the best way to keep score. Sinek shows that the goal is really to position yourself well to continue to playing the game, and do much good for people as a primary goal.. This mindset runs counter to the very American notions of win-at-all-costs and there can only be one number one. It is the air we breath from sports to academics to business. We love to declare a winner, but there are infinite games that never end.

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He did it again. Everything Sinek touches turns into motivational gold for entrepreneurs and "Infinite Game" was no exception.

The key concept in the book is that many of us keep playing the wrong game in business and in life. First, we have the "finite game" with known players, fixed rules, an end point and clear winners and losers, for instance in baseball or chess. Then there is the "infinite game" in which players come and go, rules change, there is no end point and no clear winner, while the objective is not to win but to keep playing the game.

Sinek explains that business and life are infinite games and should be played that way because if we are in the infinite game with a finite mindset, we find ourselves losing. In order to accomplish the winning infinite mindset, it's crucial to choose a just cause, find trusting teams and be flexible - concepts which he masterfully explains in detail with spot-on examples.

While the concept of risking finite possibilities to have a huge impact is not new, Sinek puts it in a digestible format with clear patterns which we as humans are prone to remembering. I found myself surprised over and over how brilliant this was. I will certainly be re-reading this book.

*Thank you to the Publisher to a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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In this book Simon Sinek takes the readers to the concepts of Finite and Infinite Games. This is really more of the way people think in business.

I somehow find the concepts similar to the fixed and growth mindset popularize by Carol Dweck. Nevertheless Simon was able to apply the principles in organizational rather than personal setting.

This is the first book I read written by Simon. Most of my exposure to his ideas came from articles, videos (especially his famous TED Talk videos), and podcasts episodes. I am not sure yet how different this book is from his other books. I’ll find out soon.

Nevertheless, I seehow passionate the author was throughout the pages with the way he delivered his statements. Although sometimes I would rather take his ideas with a grain of salt than take it without the benefit of evaluation.

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It is first book of Simon Sinek which I get to read.
I must say I am impressed with his writing and presentation.
It is very readable and enjoyable book.
It states that after Friedman's theory of shareholders supremacy,. Businesses took away focus and money from public to investors.
And this started a new business world which doesn't hesitate to lay off people in bulk and which undertakes unethical practices by finding loopholes in tax laws and other regulations.
Also capitalism gas become short sighted.
There are a lot of examples and stories to describe that business is not finite and limited to quarters but it is infinite game where business should focus on longevity.
A very good nonfiction work.
Thanks netgalley and publisher for review copy.

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This author’s Start With Why was a great expansion upon his TED talk of the same name. This book takes some of the ideas of that book and expounds upon them. His books together are great business related reads. However, this book stands in second place to his earlier work.

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Hello! I wrote about this book for Wharton Magazine
Treat Your Business Rival as Inspiration, Not Competition
And other lessons I learned from Simon Sinek's new book, The Infinite Game

Do you feel that business is a competition—a game that must be won in a limited amount of time?

In his new book, The Infinite Game, author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek shares how “a worthy rival inspires us to take on an attitude of improvement.” Sinek admits that he first felt the need to compare himself to and despair about his perceived rival, Wharton professor Adam Grant. They shared a stage at a conference and both realized that there was no need to compete for book sales or any other marker. Since then, Sinek has turned his focus away from a finite mindset and arbitrary self-measurement and works only towards improving what he can offer to others.

I heard Sinek speak at the 2018 Virtuoso Travel Conference about his progress on The Infinite Game and was surprised when he explained that he told his publisher he would need another year to work on the book. He said the research was very important and he wanted it to be right and it would simply take longer.

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