Book Review: The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek

This book didn’t change my life like how discovering an agile methodology for software development or reading Mindset did, but it is a great book if you need a subtle reminder on how to build a good company or a good team. Essentially, Sinek applies the concept of a “growth mindset” to companies in a way that’s easy to understand and very motivating.

Sinek asks readers to recognize that business is not a “finite game” like a game of football where there is a prescribed end and a declared winner. It is an “infinite game” where you can’t “win”, you can just hope to leave the company you worked for better than it was when you started.

Sinek creates five steps for building a company or team ready for the infinite game. I’m going to list them all here, but I really think that 1 and 4 are the core. Of course, Sinek had to write a whole book, and I only have to write this blog post:

  1. Advance a Just Cause – For you and your company to function in an infinite game, you must have a just cause worthy of an infinite pursuit, otherwise, you will revert to measuring yourself against quarterly outputs. Sinek makes a good observation that America succeeds because the founding fathers sought to establish a country that would seek to protect “inalienable rights” rather than one that sought to lower the taxes that Britain had levied on the colonies, and that is why we are still in the infinite game.
  2. Build Trusting Teams – Sinek argues that you need to build trust amongst your teams. Individuals need to believe that they are being looked after beyond finite results.
  3. Worthy Rival – The argument is that we need to understand what our competition is doing. Not to identify weaknesses and beat them in finite ways, but to understand our strengths and weaknesses and refine our just cause.
  4. Existential Flexibility – We need to understand that the way that we apply our just cause today may not be the best or only way to apply it tomorrow. When we see opportunities to improve on how we perform our just cause, we must be ready to move to it. Sinek provides the example of Walt Disney realizing that he could also use Theme Parks in addition to movies to create a joyous departure from reality.
  5. Courage to Lead – The argument here is that you  must have the courage to make tough decisions consistent with your just cause even if those trying to apply finite game measurements are resistant.

Overall, I think the book is worth a quick read especially if you have recently taken over a new team or are considering a pivot.