Chess is a win-lose game

A group of four research managers have been brought together to create a “new and imagined way” to build a program for which each of them currently has overlapping responsibility.  I was brought into this conversation after three months of work which seemed to be leading nowhere.

The opening line was, “You know, it’s like chess, if you move one piece, there are lots of other moving pieces that are affected”.

A few probing questions, and I saw it.  This group, for three months had been talking strategy–about how to move the chess pieces around.  However, there was never any disagreement because there was no agreed upon vision.  That is no purpose to the strategy talks.

If each person is thinking chess, each person  does have a vision.  My vision when I play chess is to win and for the other person to lose.  My opponent in the game of chess does not have the same vision.  In a group of four there are four different and unspoken visions for the outcome of this initiative.

The vision for this program cannot be the win-lose vision of chess.  It must be a new vision, frankly without consideration of winers and losers.  The company has asked these individuals to create a recommendation.  They must do so without wearing their research program manager hats.  They must create a vision of what is best for the company.  A shared vision toward which they must work has not been created.  This is necessary before they start on their strategy.

Every move in chess is intended to lead toward the final desired vision–to win.  If we change the final desired vision, then we also need to have totally different strategies and we may even define new ways for the chess pieces to move.

Jonathan Shaver