Jenga: turning competitive into cooperative, and finite vs infinite games

We are used to playing competitive games. Football, indians and cow-boys, poker or rock-paper-scissors are all competitive games. Whether I win and you loose, or the other way around.

jengaCompetitive games are useful for learning things like getting more than your fair share during a negotiation or like killing the enemies of your people.

For the last decades, war has decreased and Toyota taught us about the importance of win-win negotiations for sustainable business. You need to teach a new set of skills for cooperation instead of competition. That’s why you need more cooperative games… or turning our competitive games into cooperative ones.

Jenga is a tradicional basic game. A group of people take turns for removing little wooden bricks from the bottom of a tower and try to put them on top of it. The first person making the tower fall, loses.

In this competitive game:

  • You want everyone else to fail, so you’ll make moves that let the worst case scenario for the next player.
  • You are interested in the shortest possible tower. The faster someone fails, the easier you win.

How about turning competitive Jenga into cooperative Jenga?

Let’s say the rules are changed so the goal is building the highest possible tower between everyone. The rest of the rules are left the same. Now:

  • You want everyone else to succeed, so you will do moves that facilitate the next person move.
  • You are interested in giving advice, support and assistance to the others, so they make moves easier for them and also easier for a sustainable growth of the tower.

With Cooperative-Jenga you get longer games, cooperation and team building and a way of working based on sustainability and on helping others.

Help, cooperation, long-term thinking, sustainability… against rivalry, individuality and seeking for failure.

What are the skills you prefer learning and practicing today?

 


Related:

  • The short game, the long game and the infinite game (Seth Godin): “In the infinite game, though, something completely different is going on. In the infinite game, the point is to keep playing, not to win. In the infinite game, the journey is all there is. And so, players in an infinite game never stop giving so they can take.”
  • Don’t give up, don’t let others give up and absolutely never make others give up. “When a colleague is in trouble or has failed, you can always show up and offer some help, whether it represents a helping hand, a good piece of advice or just listening to some whining. As a team member, you always have the option to support the rest of the team.”
  • Assertiveness (John Welford): “To be assertive is not, as some people imagine, to be overbearing and aggressive, but to be straightforward, open and honest. It means that you relate well to people, able to express your needs freely, take responsibility for your feelings and stand up for yourself when necessary. In conflict situations you seek, where possible, to reach a ‘win-win’ outcome, in which the needs of all parties are fully acknowledged.”

 

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Who is your sidekick?

As Batman has Robin, as Maverick has Goose, as Frodo has Sam… chances are you need a sidekick.

On one hand, a sidekick will be at your side whenever you’re in big trouble.

sidekicks

On the other hand, a sidekick is someone you can train as your replacement.

If you don’t have a sidekick, you’d better look for one.

Quote on learning from experience

After the first few minutes of Die Hard 2, in a self-referential joke, the character played by Bruce Willis realizes his current problems are the very same as in the previous movie.

Oh man, I can’t fucking believe this. Another basement, another elevator. How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice? (John McClane, Die Hard 2)

Every problem you deal with will resemble any problem you faced in the past, at least in some ways.

So every problem you tackle, is a chance for learning. Every awkward situation you solved means you are readier to face the next one.

You don’t need to learn from failure, nor need to learn from success either. You are well enough just learning from experience.


 

Related

You must look for your replacement

Kay and Jay, from the movie Men In Black, have this dialog at the end of Jay’s first day on the job.

Kay: [looking skywards] They’re beautiful, aren’t they?
Jay: What?
Kay: The stars.
Jay: Kay, you’re frightening your partner…
Kay: I haven’t been looking for a partner. I’ve been looking for a replacement.

Kay has always been thinking on retiring. His last job was to train his replacement.

In your day-by-day at work, always think on how to train your replacement.

Yes. As counter-intuitive as it seems.

Train your substitute. Make sure that somebody, with the correct set of skills and the right disposition, is learning everything she needs to learn for doing your job. For taking your role. For getting your position.

In a global economy, with job offers able to reach thousands of candidates everywhere, everyone can be replaced, if needed. Your job is not safe anymore.

However, working on training your substitute, will let you understand your current position better, so you’ll become a better performer while teaching others.

Moreover, you will solve in advance the problem of not giving you a promotion because you’re too valuable for your company where you are now.

Finally, if the person you’ve trained reaches your position, your way of doing things, your legacy, will be safer than just letting your former team and product in the hands of a newcomer.

Everyday, look for your replacement.