In business, you’re likely engaged in either a finite or infinite game. Think professional sports: The finite game is winning this Saturday’s soccer game. The infinite game is soccer itself—it will be around as a sport whether you win or lose.
It’s hard to do work you’re proud of if you’re focused on crushing the competition or making the next million. That’s finite. No one stays on top forever with that goal.
Businesses like that are built to be cashed-out when the owner retires or sold to a competitor. Employees are the last to benefit, turnover is constant and your best people leave.
Elon Musk is operating an infinite game. Tesla isn’t concerned about crushing anyone.
(Feb 2, 2019) Elon Musk announced Thursday he had released all of the electric carmaker’s patents, as part of an effort to fight climate change. In a blog post, the colorful billionaire founder of Tesla promised the company “will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.”
Finite is not evil and infinite is not grand and glorious. But they are different and it pays to know which game you’re playing.