Understanding the difference between finite game and infinite game can help change our lives
As the professor James P. Carse wrote in his work Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility published in 1986, “there are at least two kinds of games”, whereby games we mean situations implemented by at least two players, “one could be called finite; the other infinite. A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing play.”
Finite games can be defined as those in which the players and rules are known to everyone and the game has a clear objective. Whereas infinite games involve all those circumstances in which players can be known and unknown, where there are no rules and there is not even an objective to reach, which would signal the end of the game. Finite and infinite games are all around us, and they can be found in any area of our daily lives, both personal and business. For example, football championships and matches are finite games; but a marriage or a career are infinite games. A way to help distinguish between the two is to think of the concept of victory: you can win a championship, while you cannot win a marriage or a career.
A finite game involves short term thinking, with objectives that can be reached relatively easily and quickly, and a vision which is generally short and immediate. On the other hand, since it does not have set rules or a specific number of players, an infinite game exists in the world of possibilities and is perpetual, adaptable and resilient. That is exactly what a good business should have.