The Same Box: At the End of the Day Everyone has the Same Goals

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Most board games are not about co-operation, but competition, it’s the players facing off against each other to find a winner, be it Chess or Monopoly, the aim of the game is to win. Ultimately pretty much all board games are about strategy, you are not playing the game itself, but you are playing the opponents you are facing in the game.

The same is true in warfare, you are facing an opponent or opponents, and again the same is true in our businesses. This is partly what gave rise to the popularity of books like Sun Tzu’s The Art of War as training tools in business.

The Art of War was originally penned in the 5th century, but even today is still actively used to teach business strategies the world over. But across all these board games, and texts, there is one startling omission. In none of them does it actually tell you that at the end of the game, all the pieces go back into the same box, there is an old Tuscan proverb which is where the phrase comes from, that said:

At the end of the game, the King and the Pawn go into the same bag

It basically tells us that even though the pieces have a perceived different value on the board, when all is done everything is equal. Both the King and the Pawn exist in the same space, with the same rights.

This is very true of all of us, in our lives and in our businesses, we seek to get ahead of our competitors, to grow our businesses, to provide better support for the lives we aspire to have. But we often don’t spend the same amount of time considering the benefits that may be gained by working in cooperation with those competitors. What heights would we reach if we made them our partners and worked together to grow all our businesses? How much further could we reach? How many more customers in how many countries would be opened up to us?

We’re always thinking about our next move in our business, how we grow it to that next level, but often we don’t think about how we could work with our partners to do this, or our suppliers, even with our customers. All of these are assets, that tactically speaking can be turned to not only our advantage but also to their advantage as well.

In Chess, the players team is always at its strongest when they still have the most pieces on the board, for each piece that is removed the effectiveness and strength of the team is reduced. Strangely this is a tactic that is often not recognised in businesses.

But as I have already said, at the end of the game all the pieces go amicably into the same box. So why not make your opponents players work for you too, after all, we’re all on the same planet at the end of the game as well.



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