Playing the Infinite Game: How Companies Can Aspire to Continual Innovation
It’s impossible to miss: customers want innovative products and experiences more strongly than ever before. But creating a truly innovative customer experience requires a different way of thinking about business; one that allows for more risk, creates more robust teams, and focuses on delivering truly exceptional products rather than short-term metrics.
To keep providing these innovative experiences, and in order to continually reinvent themselves, companies need to move beyond the traditional business mindset and toward what Simon Sinek1 calls the “infinite game.”
What is the Infinite Game?
Many companies are focused only on immediate success and growth at all costs. But what if victory wasn’t so clear-cut? What if focusing so narrowly on a finite end state wasn’t winning at all in the long-term?
In an article for Forbes, Sheila Goldgrab writes:
As Simon Sinek and others have pointed out, if you play the games of leadership and business as though winning is central, then you are playing a finite game. However, if the point is to keep the game going, then you’re engaged in a different game — an infinite one.
Real victory for an infinite brand is keeping the business alive and growing by thinking beyond the mere long-term. Organizing a business this way allows for disruptive innovation and longevity.
How Can Leaders Develop an Existing Brand into an Infinite One?
Because infinite brands don’t track success in the traditional way, the transition can be difficult for leaders bound to that tradition. It requires letting go of the obsession of growth at any cost and giving the company room to breathe. Strong leaders acknowledge that failure isn’t only a possibility, but a fact of life.
In an interview with Inc. Magazine, Sinek has this to say about the choice to aspire to infinite-minded leadership:
It’s not a question of right or wrong. It’s about what kind of company we want to build. We do not get to choose the rules of the game of business. The only choice we get is how we want to play. The choice to play with a finite mindset comes with a cost. The cost of trust. The cost of cooperation. The cost of innovation. The cost of longevity. The choice to play with an infinite mindset may mean the growth numbers are a little slower than your friend’s down the street. But the goal is not to beat your competition. The goal is to outlast them.
Collaboration Can Help Brands Transition to the Infinite
It is essential for the long-term success of brands to chart a course of continued innovation through collaboration. By combining efforts with internal team members and external partners, brands can think beyond typical business goals and focus on their infinite game to continually provide unique experiences and build trust with their customers. These collaborations are important and crucial to making infinite brands a success, so let’s get started!
<sup”>1Simon Sinek is a leadership guru, professor at Columbia University, founder of SinekPartners (Corporate Refocusing), and author.