On finding new, uncertain games

Roger Martin, in a blog post for HBR, was exploring the difference between strategy and planning, and posed an excellent question:

Are you only playing the games
you know you can win?
     - Roger Martin(QQ42532)

It is safer to stick with what you are good at, what you know you can control… and in lots of cases I think that is the right approach. But that doesn’t change the fact that there are also cases where the potential reward of winning a new game far outweighs the consequences of losing that new game. Just playing the new game can lead to all sorts of benefits, even if it is ulitmately a failure.

This fear of failure is taught early, and taught often. There are lots of examples, like:

  • Measuring children’s school success by how many correct answers they get on tests
  • Measuring companies by their quarterly earnings

I do believe many of us are trying to move beyond this. Tech startup culture, the recognition that creativity requires “Intelligent Fast Failure” and so on.

And that is what makes this question so powerful - sometimes we should only be playing games we know we can win, but in other cases recognizing that this is our default behaviour should be a wake up call.

Here’s to finding new, uncertain games.

Questions by Roger Martin:

(Original photo Niagara Falls garden :: March 25, 2011 from my photoblog seemsArtless, text added using addText.com.)

? > !! - QB18210

Recent articles

September 20, 2015 - filed under Ponderances

Who can you 'uplift'?

Elizabeth Nyamayaro reminds us how important it is to help other

May 02, 2014 - filed under Ponderances

On finding new, uncertain games

Are you only playing the games you know you can win? Roger Martin on the fear of failure.