What does it take to succeed in business in the twenty-first century? Obviously, it takes some basic business intelligence about how supply and demand work, what it means to create and use capital, what people want, how to work with people, how to keep learning, how to sell and persuade, how to keep balanced and healthy in mind, body, and relationships. It also takes a great attitude-a positive, optimistic, solution-oriented, can-do, playful attitude. That's what this book is all about (p.vii)
Do you play the game of business effectively? Do you have a mindset that supports productivity? Do your strategies make for efficiency? If you want to know how to operate as a business genius, then L Michael Hall's Games Business Experts Play is your guide to excellence in business. It is another in Hall's series of Frame Games books on the attitudes and strategies for success. This book tells you how business experts think, and how to replicate their frames of mind. Frame Games
Hall begins this book with his theory of “Games” He tells us how to identify the games we play, decide if our games are toxic or empowering, recognize the rules that guide our games, and define the “pay-offs,” that are the benefits and outcomes (and sometimes consequences) of our games. Games shape patterns of behavior and thinking. Games emerge from Frames - frames of reference - beliefs, values, meanings, and understandings of the way things work. Our frames structure an internal “map of the world” that, for good or bad, becomes our guide to navigating external “reality.” Thus, we have Frame Games. Awareness of our frames gives us insight into where our games come from, and what endows them with meaning, motivation, and power.
Our “states” are mind/body, thinking/feeling experiences that reflect our perceptions of the world. Frames are the meanings we attach to those perceptions. Frames, therefore, influence states. Frames set the contexts for how we view and interpret events. Frames establish thinking, feeling, speaking, behavior and relationships. Frames govern our games, the rules we play by, the limits we recognize or fail to recognize, and who can play. We can quality control our frames to make sure they support and contribute to business excellence. We can change our games by reframing; creating a mental shift to new meanings, understandings, and presuppositions.
NLP teaches that there is a structure of excellence. Hall reminds us that excellence in any field involves finding and replicating the strategies of those who succeed. Hall's purpose in Games Business Experts Play is to teach us to adopt the frames and games of successful business people. Foundational Games for Personal Effectiveness
The first step to business success is personal effectiveness. That means examining the games we currently play. Games Business Experts Play includes a worksheet that will help you to “unpack” those games through the process of “Frame Analysis.” Hall's method guides readers in naming the game, identifying the players, frames, cues, rules, and pay-offs, and evaluating whether a game is worthwhile.
If you aren't happy with the games you play, maybe it's time for some new games. Hall includes a worksheet for design-engineering new games, so that we can choose the games we want to play, how we want to play them, and the frames that make the games work. The Game of Business Excellence
... obviously takes mental and emotional energy-¦ We don't find business excellence in the lives of the lazy, the slothful, the indulgent, or the ones searching for “the path of least resistance.” We find business excellence emerging in the lives of the passionate, the searchers for adventure, the dreamers who act, and those who love to rise up to meet a challenge. (p.57)
Personal power comes from the ability to think and feel. Public power comes from the ability to communicate and behave. By cultivating these four powers, we can meet business challenges resourcefully. Hall recommends this attitude:
I, and only I, ultimately determine what I think and feel. Nobody can make me think or feel anything. I always play a determinative role about what I let into my mind and what I give attention to. I have the power of mind and heart over this ultimate human freedom of what to think and how to think. (p.61)
Hall asks, “Do you own this kind of attitude? Do you claim, accept, and appreciate your core powers fully? Do you reject playing the victim, blaming, excuses and irresponsibility? Do you validate your personal power to choose you own thoughts and feelings?” His book will teach you how.
One route to personal power lies in saying a vigorous “Yes!” to those things that enrich our lives. With a powerful “Yes!” you can change your beliefs and motivate yourself to achieve worthwhile goals. Conversely, a strong, overwhelming “No!” can banish toxic beliefs, unhealthy behaviors and negative thoughts and feelings, and enhance your self-control.
Playing the game of life elegantly means feeling secure in one's own fallibility Since making mistakes is an inevitable aspect of being human, we can maintain frames that allow us to accept our fallibility and discard the belief that we have to be perfect Hall shows us how to play the “Gloriously Fallible Game” as well as other games that lead to self-esteem and self-appreciation. Games for Business Excellence
What frames and games will help us succeed in the work environment of the 21st century? Today's business world is increasingly knowledge-driven and service-based. Hall introduces games designed to enhance our abilities to function well in this business world with improved flexibility, self-knowledge, self-responsibility, purposefulness, balance, taking action, learning and unlearning, interpersonal skills, and risk-taking.
Hall recommends that we plan the states of excellence and frames of mind we need for career success. He shows us how to acquire the attitudes and beliefs that spark success and dismantle those frames that sabotage it. To solidify our “business expert frames” even more completely, Hall invites us to play games that enhance our abilities to assume responsibility and to be “at cause.”
Business experts consistently-¦ play the Game of Responsibility. For them, accepting and owning responsibility for what they do, think, feel and experience simply describes the common sense understanding that they will not succeed if they just sit around waiting for someone else to take responsibility for their success. In the business context, this frame game shows up as-¦ initiative, proactivity, empowerment, creativity, leadership, risk taking, ownership. (p.130)
Response-ability is the ability to choose a response. It means being responsive to the environment; seeing what needs to be done and being willing to find a solution. It means owning one's competencies and knowledge, and taking action for accomplishing a result. Hall advises us to give ourselves permission to be responsible, to value responsibility, see it as reality, and accept it beyond question. It takes courage to accept full responsibility for one's career success.
Want to be more efficient at business? Hall describes games for establishing focus, purpose, and direction, finding solutions, getting feedback and staying on target. He tells us how to perceive of work as meaningful, valuable and pleasurable. He also advises us that we are always more than our work, and that to identify solely with one's work is a pervasive trap that leads to frustration and disappointment. We can get a sense of personal control and life balance when we take the position that work expresses not who we are, but what we do and it is only one aspect of living.
When the game of business gets tough and stressful, Hall directs us to games for resilience, persistence, and staying calm, cool, and alert His discussion on “defusing hotheads” is a good one, reminding us that angry, hot-tempered people play their own games, based on frames about threat and feelings of insecurity. If you get hooked into their games, the anger and tension will only escalate. It takes advanced gamesmanship to maintain a frame of “uninsultability” and to hold a wider vision, stay centered and focused, and see beyond obnoxious behavior.
The best boss you'll ever have can be YOU! Becoming your own best boss means developing “the magic art of getting yourself to do whatever it takes” to succeed. The secret to business success is discipline; the ability to manage yourself so that you consistently act in accordance with goals, values, codes of conduct, and commitments. Discipline requires a willingness to accept appropriate discomfort, stress, strain, and challenge” In other words; no idle wishing and no short-cuts. It means taking complete responsibility for learning the essential facets of business management, acquiring competence, and prioritizing time and energy.
In transforming the meanings in your life, you apprentice yourself to the particular area in which you want to become an expert. You begin by filling your mind with it and letting it capture your heart. As you construct your meanings, the frames support the discipline. It gives you the eyes to perceive your discipline as valuable, positive, and enriching. This creates a stable frame that will support you through the days in which you have to persist, use the feedback of unsuccessful attempts, hone and polish your skills, and practice your trade until you become really good at it. (pp.213-214)
Hall's chapter on customer service is excellent. He reminds us that the customer ultimately determines the success of any business endeavor. Without customers, businesses fail. There are two levels in business. The first is offering a viable product or service. The second is having an attitude of customer service that translates into the how for delivering the product or service. Here are some truisms about business:
- Business success lies in the hands of the service staff
- The attitude of the service staff governs the customer's experience
- To thrive, a business must create customer loyalty not mere satisfaction
- Keeping a customer costs less than creating one
- The best business security comes from delighting the customer
Business success consists of the ability to quickly embrace conflict and resolve it. Conflict is not the exception in business ” it is the rule. Hall writes that the more passionately we pursue our goals, the more conflict we will encounter. Conflict is the occupational hazard of success and an inevitable, pervasive force in life. Typically, most of us attach pain, negativity avoidance, and anger to conflict. Old maps about winning, competition, scarcity, and blame get in the way. Hall explores another approach to conflict, based on attitudes of abundance, cooperation, win-win, trust, response-ability, and recognizing others' psychological realities.
Hall's “Getting to Resolution Game” requires going meta to the content of conflict, and shifting perceptual positions. He takes his readers through the steps of this challenging game, with instruction on how to access a “resolution frame of mind,” commit to resolution, dialog and advocate, reach agreement, loop between inquiry and reflection, and bring closure.
In his closing chapter, Hall suggests that we continue modeling excellence and inventing even better business games, through the processes of benchmarking, strategic planning, using systemic perspectives, and seeing business as an ongoing, dynamic process. Conclusion
If there is a spiritual aspect of business, Hall has put his finger on it. Games Business Experts Play gets to the heart and soul of what makes a business person survive the odds. This is a book about attitudes for excellence. It speaks to pursuing one's passion, maintaining a vision, taking responsibility, meeting challenges, and having discipline. It ranks alongside Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People as one of the best books on business psychology I've read.
I was particularly taken with Hall's ideas on discipline and responsibility and “doing whatever it takes.” These concepts are so profoundly true, and yet seem to be what people often overlook when they want to start their own business and find the “freedom of being my own boss.”
The chapter on Customer Service is especially eye-opening. Perhaps you strive for happy customers - but do you strive for delighted customers? Most business people focus on ways to attract new customers, but how many of us give much thought to customer loyalty? This chapter is must reading for anyone who owns a business.
Games Business Experts Play is not about the mechanics of business. This book will not teach you about how to be a good bookkeeper, marketer, or technical expert. This book will not help you build a business plan, understand the regulations, ethics, and legal aspects of your field, get the proper licenses and credentials, or to reach your target market What you will find in this book are ways to pursue what you passionately love to do, persevere despite set backs, stay motivated, maintain excellence, satisfy customers, stay on your path, resolve conflict, and accomplish your dreams!
Judith E. Pearson, PhD, is a Professional Counselor with a solo practice in Springfield, Virginia. She is a manager with an international consulting corporation, and a freelance writer. She is a certified NLP Trainer and an Associate Trainer with the American Hypnosis Training Academy, and the Mid-Lantic Institute of NLP, as well as Executive Director for the National Board of Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists.