Thomas Cook Burns Out And As We Say Goodbye, We Are Reminded Of The Finite And Infinite Game



Thomas Cook has gone under. The oldest travel agency is no more. This effectively affects thousands of travelers who were on holiday when the announcement was made. It further affects the thousands of employees and companies that were dependant to the agency. After more than 170 years of success, the company is no longer able to keep up with changing trends. As noted by economist, it was the change in trend, the emergence of the internet and online booking, for instance, that pushed Thomas Cook out of business.

As the affected race against time, the closure reminds us of some fundamental business ideas. While the end has been ugly, which is almost always is, the company has taught us some invaluable lessons about the business world we live in now. What it was, what it has been and what it should be.

It’s Not Just Hitting An Absolute Goal, its Building Up To A Greater Good

Leading up to the 21st century, business models seemed to change. Businesses were all about profits. Companies began a race, and in this race, the only acceptable result was being numbered one. Comes the concept of winning and losing, you were either number one or headed out of business. A business shouldn’t be simply about keeping score and putting up numbers. In a book written by James Carr C called Finite and Infinite game. In the book, he says that if you have at least two competitors, you have a game.

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Then this breaks down to Finite games and Infinite games. in a Finite game, there are set players, set rules and set winning metrics. In an Infinite game, there are known and unknown players, rules change and the only “winning” metric is keeping the game going. In a Finite game, when the players are out, the game ends. An Infinite game, the game goes on even without a player.

A New Thomas Cook Is On The Horizon

A majority of businesses have been Finite games and businesses should be Infinite. Thomas Cook was an Infinite leader, he strived to build a strong, more innovative and more inspiring organization. And what happened? It changed the lives of people for more than 170 years. What happens when the organization is set and led in Finite mentality? There’s a decline in trust, cooperation, and innovation. Most of the 10- 20-year-old companies operating today are only focused on profits, trapped in a finite mentality, a thing that will be their own undoing.

Fortunately, we are ushering anew age. With the introduction of Robotics, AI, and Blockchain we have seen better-configured organizations. We are seeing that startups are being and led by Infinite mentality. There are better at cooperation, trust, and the focus is on a greater cause rather than profits.

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