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Business: Not (Quite) a Game

Trevor O'Hara
1 min read
Business: Not (Quite) a Game
Photo by Sigmund

We often hear business being described as a game - mainly because elements of strategy, competition, rules, levels, and objectives are involved.

The pursuit of profit can be seen as scoring points, competitors can be viewed as components, and regulations can be viewed as rules.

But we only need to look at the failure rates of businesses to know this analogy needs to be revised. It has been instilled in us since school: work hard, and you'll achieve the next level.

Most businesses don't work like video games. You can put in all the hours you want, hire the best strategists you can afford, have all the skills and qualifications, and showcase the world's best product - but none of this will protect you against the forces of randomness.

Businesses swim in an ocean of randomness and unpredictability. They're influenced by countless uncontrollable factors: changing competition, market dynamics, demand fluctuations, and irrational human behavior. Strategize away - no matter how well you think you're playing the game, randomness always rears its head.

Dealing with randomness requires a different strategy: constant experimentation, tinkering, iteration, failing out, trying again, honing in, zooming out, learning how to stay in the game, thinking small, constantly preparing for the worst-case scenario that the project you're working on may never work out.

This perspective may seem daunting, even bleak. But acknowledging randomness isn't about promoting gloominess. It's about taking a realistic, less rosy-eyed approach to business through constant adapting, pivoting, and experimentation and being open to new opportunities we may have otherwise overlooked in our rigid adherence to a game plan.