How do you win an Infinite Game?

| Categories: Building Strategy , Business Tips , Operations

Blog by Fuel Accountants


What kind of question is that, and why am I asking it?

Well, why don’t you ask yourself if your business is a finite, or infinite enterprise? Sure, your business had a beginning. It might also have rules (processes), timelines, and score keeping (the numbers). But when does it end? What does the end even look like? 

This is an important concept to consider for several reasons:

  • Even if you have a business plan with 1 year or 3-year goals, once you reach the goal, now what? 
  • Is it possible to create our own future?
  • While it’s impossible to predict the future, is it possible to manage it, at least to a certain extent!

Sporting events have it easy. There is always a beginning and an end to a competition, and it’s almost always measured with a clock, and a highly visible and real-time scoring method to determine a winner.

But what about your business? It’s really not the same as a sporting event in that regard.

Since your business has no real end (unless you sell it at some point) how do you manage an open ended situation?

How do you manage an infinite game?

Can you effectively plan and manage an infinite enterprise?

And therein lies the crux of the matter. Here are some things to consider:

  • Think Long Term: Start by determining an end point such as 3 years out. It can be 1 year out, but we think that’s not far enough for serious strategic planning.
  • Think Near Term: Next determine an interim checkpoint that ensures you’re well on your way to the long term target. We recommend 1 year as a useful interim target.
  • Think Short Term: We still find that 1 year out is too far for tactical execution. So we next recommend that you set 90-day tasks (we call them “rocks”) that can be focused on in the short term. But the number of 90-day rocks should not exceed 5 (3 is even better). And they need to be executable within the 90 days. Also, each rock should have a name assigned to it. We need accountability. When everyone is in charge, it’s the same as if nobody is in charge, because everybody thinks somebody is doing the work. But it turns out that there is nobody named somebody. She/he doesn’t exist. So put a real name on it! And make sure that person has the time, talent, and resources to make it happen.
  • Think Tactical Execution: Once your 90-day Rocks are established, you need weekly check-ins to make certain that you are getting traction on those 90-day rocks. This creates accountability and gets the engines revving up, creating momentum. The idea is not to shame people into performance. Rather it’s to discover what’s working, or not working. That way the group can help as needed, or help troubleshoot when things are going sideways.
  • Use KPI’s: Key Process/Performance Indicators (KPI’s) are needed to make sure you have the right management measurements in place that show you’re on track to meet your end points.

So where does the infinite part come in?

Yea, I thought you might be bugging me about that. Ok, I’ll explain that. 

Each year, you should have an “Annual Planning Meeting’ where you review your 3-year targets, establish the new 1-year target. In the process of doing that, you can make sure your 3-year target is still relevant, or if it needs augmentation. And besides adjusting it, you might choose to establish a new, enhanced 3-year target.

And that’s how you manage an infinite business…

We are excellent facilitators and are excited to help you with this. So call us when you’re ready to go to “Infinity and Beyond!!”


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