Warning: this post contains spoilers for Simon Sinek’s book The Infinite Game
Simon Sinek is a big name in the motivational author world, which is a peculiar world full of pithy sayings and over-reductions and simplifications. These are the kinds of books that often go up on the “must read” list of various big name leaders in business, the military, government, and other organizations, and although I tend to be rather cynical towards them, they are useful in their accessibility and general appeal. In other words, these are the books for leaders who don’t like to read, but would like to look knowledgeable and well read. In case you hadn’t guessed, I read this book for a conference, not by picking it up off the Amazon shelf.
It’s not that the book was bad. It was well written, and well structured (although it did run into the issue of repetitiveness that so much non-fiction, especially in this genre, falls into), and I agree with many of the points that it made. My issue with it is that it oversimplifies all of its examples and concepts into dichotomies. The principles upon which this book draws are common to other works of philosophy, behavioral science, and economics, which explore all of the ideas with far more nuance and depth. Fundamentally, this book is a synthesis, and for a serious reader, you’re better off diving into Adam Smith, John Locke, and other seminal works.
That being said, this book does have its place. The synthesis it provides is thorough and insightful, and it provides a robust terminology with which to simplify the approach to what is really an incredibly complex concept – the concept, in fact, that Adam Smith attempted to communicate in Wealth of Nations and never quite managed to clarify. The concept of the infinite game is really a question of taking a long view or a short view. Finite games are about short views, infinite games are about long views.
If you have the time, and the inclination, there are better sources to explore the basic ideas that are expressed in The Infinite Game. However, if you’re looking for a quicker look into the importance of taking a long view, and how capitalism is supposed to function (as well as a brief discussion of why it’s not working that way currently), this book is a good place to start, assuming you’re willing to take Sinek on faith in some places.