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Monday, March 06, 2006
Game Theory

IHT had a good week last week. Alot of good articles. However, since IHT is operating in Web circa 1995, I cannot link to the article.

In recognition of Thomas Schelling's Nobel prize, one article discussed the application of his Game Theory work during the Cold War and in business/life today.

The key takeaways:

1) Lending credibility to a threat/promise is not as easy as it seems.

2) The biggest problem with making a credible threat is that backing out is easy and sometimes less painful than making good on the threat.

3) The best way to structure your threats/promises is to limit your options. Look for tricks that limit options and back people into doing what they really want to do, but are afraid they will not.

Best quote from the article:

"Nay, if the result of crossing is to place a difficult gully behind us when we are are on the point of engaging, surely that is an advantage worth siezing" - Xenophon (Greek historian)

This discussion makes me think about motivating teams. At times, my motivation style becomes brute force (imploring people to take action), as opposed to leading them to believe that they must take action. Applying the tactics above can often combine the two techniques, leading the circumstances to motivate the employees, as opposed to the manager having to do it. (I think of Cortes and his decision to burn the ships)

More on Schelling here and here.

posted by Rob @ 5:41 AM  
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