You’re constantly looking two, three, four moves ahead,” explains Moore. “If you do this move, what’s the countermove? In a chess game, your mind is constantly running permutations of decision trees. In business, your mind should be doing the same.
So, too, in many sectors of business, in which many competitors vie for one or a few dominant, winner-takes-most slots (pending SEC approval).”You’re looking out a year, two years, three years,” says Moore. “Sometimes that means in the short term you make sacrifices.” You might make a tactical decision that appears to put you behind, but actually strengthens your position for when the smoke clears, and each side’s knights and bishops have fallen.
“One of the biggest mistakes in business is to lose focus,” says Moore. It’s easy to get distracted by what your competitors are doing. But just because a competitor launched a flashy feature doesn’t mean that you need to match that feature. What you need to do is ask yourself whether matching that feature will advance you towards the goal you’ve already identified.
“The vast majority of startups will fail,” says Moore. You have to believe that yours won’t. But part of you has to know, too, that though “it’ll sting, and part of me will be devastated” if yours does fail, ultimately any battle scars will make you stronger and smarter for the next venture.
Playing chess teaches you to recognize patterns: the tempting bishop sacrifice that actually led you into a trap, the queen swap that looked favorable but prevented you from castling. You play, you learn.
In some ways, chess is a laboratory for human resources problems. “You have to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the team, of your employees,” says Moore. “You have to understand that the pawn has its role, and it’s a very important one, just as important as the queen, rook, or bishop. Every piece is critical, and the only way to win is to leverage all those pieces’ skill sets together.”
[Image: Flickr user Martin Lopatka]