2. Finite and Infinite Games

Although not a business book, this one touches on a key principle of innovation: some market problems are finite and can be studied and understood to a large extent; others are open-ended and will never comply with market research. For a long time, I discussed this idea by referring to puzzles and mysteries, and here’s another way to have this discussion.

A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.

James P. CARSE

While James admittedly develops a more metaphysical perspective, it’s still a great boost for your innovation mindset. For instance, it gives an exciting perspective on risk-taking:

It is a highly valued function of society to prevent changes in the rules of the many games it embraces… Deviancy, however, is the very essence of culture. Whoever merely follows the script, merely repeating the past, is culturally impoverished. There are variations in the quality of deviation; not all divergence from the past is culturally significant. (…) Cultural deviation does not return us to the past, but continues what was begun but not finished in the past… 

James P. CARSE

Replace ‘deviancy‘ with ‘innovation,’ and you’ll get my point.