Daily leadership activities to leverage complexity. 4th–Which game they are playing (Game theory)?

People and groups are continuously interacting with each other. In “game theory” language, they play games and there is a strategy that guides their actions. Obviously, this strategy can be changed based on feedback they are getting all the time.

People and teams can play the game following two main strategies. They can cooperate with others or not-cooperate. There are several variations for each strategy that we’ll discuss later. As a leader, you seek that as many groups and people will choose cooperation as their strategy.

Since we are dealing with complex systems, we know that we are dealing with bi-directional influences. Therefore, we need to check the strategy that guides the two parts of a pair and their observation on the other side strategy. This data will help us prioritize our efforts. For example, we might want to start with pairs that both use a non-collaborative strategy. We need to change their strategy fast as the damage that those pair create is significant.

To get a high-level view, especially for big groups of people or subgroups, I recommend creating a simple matrix with the name of people and/or groups on the X & Y axile. In each cell capture what strategy guide X in the game in the upper left part of the cell, and Y strategy on the lower right side of the cell. You can use red minus to depict non-cooperative and green plus for cooperation. This view can show you easily where you have problems. It is also an easy view to update daily base on interactions and observations. 

After getting the big picture you might want to get into the options of each strategy.  Each strategy has 3 main options and a gray area fills the space between the third option of each one of them. If we start from collaboration, the stages will be a full collaboration, mostly collaboration, some collaboration, gray area, some non-collaboration, mostly noncollaboration and full no-collaboration.  

The “full” state in each strategy is driven by a mental model or it supported by all goals and objectives of the player. “Mostly” is driven by one or more goals or objectives of a player. “Some” is usually the result of a tactic need of a player. As you can see there are many options between each step. 

We need to understand where players are standing in their overall strategy when we want to move players from no cooperation to cooperation. Players should Move by taking them from their current stage  in non-collaboration, step by step, to full collaboration

In my 2nd post on complexity and management, I mentioned that organizing people and groups is the same as organizing atoms and molecules. In nature the elements of an atom responsible to create a bond between the atom parts and other atoms. As a leader, your role is to spend time and energy to create bonds between people and groups. This post defines one way how to do it. In complex environment atoms and molecules change all the time. your role is to increase cooperation regardless of changes complexity introduced. 

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