“ Do you know how to play the game you're in? ”

by Simon Sinek

Book Cover


Some games have an end, they are finite. Some never end, they are infinite. Infinite games by definition can’t be won, and therefore they need to be played for the benefits of the game rather than to win.

Business, policy, and life in general are all infinite.

When playing an infinite game, the most important is a just cause: the reason behind playing the game. The benefits (revenue, growth, …) follow the cause, not the opposite.

Behave ethically. Center on the cause. Take care of your employees.


In finite games, players and rules are known and game ends and someone wins. In infinite games, players can or can’t be known, rules can be bent, and it can’t be won.

Finite mindset is behaving like we’re in a finite game.

Finite mindset in business is CEO’s picking up a metric to explain they won and they’re number 1. Infinite mindset is building for generations and resiliency, addressing a customer need and being successful as by-product

You don’t get to chose if a game is finite or infinite. You can decide to enter or not.

Consistency is more important than hitting a goal in an infinite game. (e.g going to the gym will get you in shape, more important to adopt a lifestyle than hit a milestone by a certain date)

5 practices

  1. A just cause
  2. Build trusting teams
  3. Study worthy rivals
  4. Prepare for existential flexibility
  5. Demonstrate courage to lead

Have a just cause

  • Just because centered out of the company
  • That people can get behind
  • Bold and unattainable

Revenue goals, growth and such are not a cause. Achievable is not a cause.

Historically capitalism was about serving customers, money follows. The focus on shareholder money is more recent and finite thinking (Friedman doctrine). Pushes to maximize short term revenue at the detriment of cause and value, which makes the organization less resilient and more fragile. Focusing on cause makes organization more resilient.

Three pillars : feel safe at work, be justly compensated for our efforts, contribute to a just cause

Information flow and safety

Performance vs trust - putting people on two axis - performance and trust, higher performer with low trust are toxic.

Without safety information can’t flow. Focus only on performance and performance will drop.

Companies that don’t focus on their employees and dont get them to believe in the cause can’t get employees to be their best.

Ethical fading occurs when there is a lot of pressure for performance. Leaders need to take accountability for ethical fading of they take it for performance.

Pressure reduces empathy and the willingness to take the time to help others

Euphemisms help shade the fading

The fact that everyone does it doesn’t make it ethical. The fact that it is legal does not make it legal

A finite solution to an ethical problem is not working. Eg process to fix ethics will not work

When in a complex situation, the way out is recentering on the cause, the employees, and infinite thinking, despite the finite player asking to apply a finite solution. On the long-term this will yield the best results.

About Reading Notes

These are my takes on this book. See other reading notes. Most of the time I stop taking notes on books I don't enjoy, and these end up not being in the list. This is why average ratings tend to be high.