You are surrounded by people who make certain decisions. How to calculate your opponent's moves scientifically and make the best decisions? Start thinking like a strategist!
We are all strategists, whether we like it or not. And it's better to be a good strategist than a bad one. Working and living in society is a continuous stream of decisions. What career to choose, how to raise children and whether to run for president?..
These situations have one thing in common: you are not in a vacuum. You are surrounded by people who actively make decisions related to yours. How to calculate the opponent's "moves" by a scientific method and make optimal decisions, tell the authors of the book "Game Theory".
What is this theory?
Game theory is a branch of the social sciences that studies strategic decision making. Game theory encompasses games ranging from chess to parenting, from tennis to takeovers, from advertising to arms control.
The Hungarian-born English humorist George Mikes once said: “Many people on the continent believe that life is a game; the British think that cricket is a game. " Both are right.
All games require different skills. Basic skills such as hitting the basket in basketball, knowledge of legal precedents, or the ability to maintain a cool air in poker are one skill category; the ability to think strategically is different.
An important lesson
Bernard Shaw wrote: “Do not treat others as you would like to be treated. You can have different tastes. " This is a very valuable lesson for those learning to think strategically. Consider the goals and strategies of other players. You should do your best to understand the position and relationships between other players in the game, including the position of those players who prefer to remain silent.
When you guess a number chosen at random, no one is trying to hide this number from you. Therefore, you can take an engineering approach and get the best result by choosing the average from the interval. But if you are playing a real game, you need to analyze how the other player will act and how his decisions will affect your strategy.
The sailing regatta provides an opportunity to analyze an interesting reverse version of the strategy of following the leader. As a rule, the leading sailboat copies the strategy of the ship following it. When a lagging sailboat changes course, the leader does the same. The leader copies the actions of the laggard, even if his strategy is clearly ineffective. Why? Because in sailing, only victory is important.
If you are already in first place, the surest way to stay first is to imitate the actions of those who follow you.
Less is better
You may find it always helpful to have more options. But if you think strategically, reducing the number of possible options can be more beneficial. Thomas Schelling writes in his book about how the Athenian general Xenophon fought with his back to a deep gorge. He deliberately chose such a position so that his soldiers would not have the opportunity to retreat. In that battle, their backs were numb, but they won.
Likewise, Cortez sank his ships after arriving in Mexico. The Aztecs could retreat into the interior of their territory, and the soldiers of Cortez had no opportunity to escape or retreat. By making defeat even more disastrous than it would have been, Cortez increased his chances of winning - and won.
Sometimes a good strategy is not to have a strategy
There is an interesting scene in the comedy The Princess Bride - a battle of wits between the hero (Westley) and the villain (Vizzini). Westley invites Vizzini to play a game: Westley will poison the wine in one of the glasses. Then Vizzini must select one of the glasses and drink wine from it, and Westley will drink from the other.
Vizzini is convinced that he can win by using logical reasoning:
“All I have to do is guess based on what I know about you. A smart person will put poison in his glass, because he knows that only a fool will choose the glass that is intended for him. And I am not a fool and I cannot choose the glass in front of you. But you probably knew that I was not a complete fool …
There is no end to this cycle of logical reasoning, because each of the arguments contains an internal contradiction.
In such situations, the only logical conclusion is that if you choose your moves, adhering to a particular system or pattern, the other player will certainly take advantage of this to his advantage and to the detriment of you.
Believe it or not?
Why can't we count on other people to always tell us only the truth and nothing but the truth? The answer is obvious: because it is contrary to their interests.
British scholar and writer Charles Snow attributes the strategically important thought to the mathematician Godfrey Hardy: “If the Archbishop of Canterbury says he believes in God, he does it because of his duty; if he says that he does not believe in God, you can be sure that he is speaking sincerely."
Likewise, if a waiter offers you a steak made from a cheaper piece of meat or a cheap Chilean wine, you have every reason to believe him. Perhaps the waiter will be right when he advises you on an expensive main course, but this is more difficult to determine. The more a person is interested in receiving benefits, the less you can trust what is said.
When a lumberjack decides how to cut wood, he expects no resistance from him: his environment is neutral. But when a general tries to defeat the enemy's army, he must anticipate any resistance that could interfere with his plans.
Other people's goals often conflict with yours, but they may overlap with them. Start thinking like a strategist - and welcome to the game.