6 things that help us play can teach us about business

Games are often viewed as a fun way to pass the time and are seen as a distraction from education and professional success. However, we are turning this view on its head. We believe games are indeed a rich source of business lessons that SMB executives can benefit from. We started the Let’s Play Business! Podcast to help business leaders understand the lessons that can be learned from the games around them, many of which are likely to have played at some point in their lives.

6 things games can teach us about business

We had some excellent leaders as guests, including Chris Rhodes, Operations Director at The Tech Dept, and Susanna Lawson, OneFile CEO and Co-Founder and 2017 Businesswoman.

Here are the key tips discussed in the first four episodes:

# 1 – Strategic Thinking – Defend what can be defended, consolidate and rebuild

Both Monopoly Deal and Chess are great at stimulating strategic thinking. Players are wondering what actions I can take now to improve my current situation and what actions will have the greatest impact. The same is true when you run a business, especially when the challenges are diverse and often overwhelming. The advice here is to focus on the two or three things that will have the most positive effects and focus on only those.

# 2 – Be Determined – Avoid “Analysis Paralysis”

In the game, Sh * thead, players have access to a lot of information, and so does business owners and executives. Some information that only they know and can see (your internal organizational information), some that everyone can see (market / public domain data), and some that no one can see (market fluctuations / unpredictable events). Just like in the game, it is important for executives to focus on the information and data they can see rather than focus on the information they cannot see or have no control over, resulting in “analysis.” Paralysis ”.

This is about leaders making decisions based on what they know, rather than waiting for data or insights they may never get or access to.

In the meantime, Pac Man teaches you how to be absolutely crucial when you need to be in business. In short, if you are not critical you will die (or the Pac Man ghosts will eat you). Just like starting a business, players have no rest – you will have to make constant decisions as you take your next step. Of course, you won’t always make the right call, but the repercussions, if you don’t make a decision at all, will be far worse.

# 3 – Invest in continuous learning and development

World of Warcraft focuses on building a “career” as your character levels up, learn new skills, and take on more challenging assignments. It’s the same in business: people need to improve their skills, keep learning and identify areas for development, otherwise you will hit a ceiling and be stuck while others overtake you. Realizing that the only way to improve is to compete against better “players” and be ready to get down and bounce back is vital in business. Think about what went wrong, learn from it, and surround yourself with talented people to learn from.

> See also: Here’s how to clean your digital space in the spring to be more productive

# 4 – Long term versus short term planning

When you think of chess again, this game is all about the balance between long-term and short-term planning. All players have access to the same information, and because there are so many of them, the brain often cannot understand all of the different options. As such, for example, you need to make assumptions about what your opponent (competitor) will do. As a result, players tend to focus too much on short term tactics rather than long term strategy. In order to think long-term and make long-term profits, one has to be willing to make short-term sacrifices (for example farmers).

The best players balance the two perfectly, and so does business. And understand that even the best long-term plans can fail because life happens. For example, a competitor may take a number of unexpected steps that require your long-term plans to adjust and respond accordingly.

# 5 – Communicate and adapt to the audience

Communication is vital in all areas of business, from engaging internal stakeholders and employees to acquiring customers. However, it can often be misunderstood or misinterpreted. Think of a game of charades – if players see that they are not communicating effectively because their teammates cannot guess the correct answer, the most effective next step is to change communication tactics. However, instead of adjusting their style and getting better, some people get nervous and do worse.

In business, this is especially true for presentations where it is important to stay clear. Often, common signals are generally understood, but jargon is not. To be effective at communication and charades, you need to learn to adapt your language to people / stakeholders based on their existing understanding. It is important to think of your audience and their needs, not yourself, when it comes to presentation and communication.

# 6 – Find the right people

When it comes to hiring the right talent and finding the right people at the right time, there is no better game than Guess Who. When this game gives us limited time and questions, we often find incredibly creative ways to find multiple pieces of information with just a little bit of research. The same applies to an interview process. For example, ensuring that the questions you ask are related to your company culture, goals, and ethos, and not just competency-based questions, can help you identify the most appropriate question for your business.

Given the time and money the recruiting process can cost, it is critical for any small business to hire the right people the first time.

Games your business can learn from

Monopoly agreement

The object of the game is to be the first player to complete three full property sets on the table in front of you. Each trait card indicates how many trait cards of that color you need to complete the set.


The aim of every chess game is to checkmate the opponent’s king. Checkmate is when the opponent’s king is attacked by one of your chess pieces and cannot escape, either by moving the king away or by getting protection from other chess pieces.

Sh * thead

Also known by many other names, including Karma, Palace and Shed, is a card game whose objective is to lose all playing cards with the last player being the “sh * thead”.


Pac-Man is an action maze chase video game. The player controls the character through a closed maze. The object of the game is to eat all the dots placed in the maze while avoiding four colored ghosts that are chasing him.

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft contains many hundreds of objectives. From reaching the maximum character level and collecting armor to killing bosses and becoming an elite player. The journey, and the eventual achievement of those goals, is why players gamble.


Charades is a pantomime game: you have to play a phrase without speaking while your teammates try to guess the phrase as quickly as possible before time runs out.

Guess who

Each player chooses a card of his choice from a separate deck of cards with the same 24 pictures. The object of the game is to be the first to determine which card the opponent has chosen.

The hosts are the founders of Alternate Experiences, Ben Fowler and Zuki Majuqwana, the Let’s do business! The podcast explores what SMB executives and professionals can learn from games and apply to businesses, from traditional board games to multiplayer video games

further reading

Jonny Wilkinson Q&A – “What do you want from your team?”

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