18 December 2013

As we put the finishing touches on the new giant chessboard in reception, it struck me how much you can take from it and apply to the world of business. Chess is one of those games where you can be so far out in the lead above your opponent, yet one mistake and you can find yourself completely undone. In the same way, you can also come from a weaker position and suddenly find yourself back in the game all because of an error of judgement from your rival.

It’s a game that begins with a completely level playing field and requires you to work out your strengths and weakness in order to achieve the best result. The moment you move a piece, you are moving forward; you set the wheels in motion and from that point onwards nothing will ever be the same again. Every square can represent a different value and it’s up to you to work out how to utilise your strengths and identify the weaknesses of your opposition.

Chess also teaches you the importance of having a healthy respect for other people, whether that’s another player or the owner of a rival business. Whilst you might be an incredible player, there’s always someone better than you, someone who can completely destroy you. It’s the same in business. So whilst you might want to beat someone, you still need to show respect in how you deal with them.

Business isn’t all about winning; it’s about how you play the game. Maintaining good relationships with people over a sustained period of time in business means that you’re more likely to get a good result overall. This also means looking at your people, ensuring that they’re all contributing and making sure that they’re playing in the position they’re most likely to succeed at.

If you’ve never played chess, I’d recommend it. Find someone who’s really good at it and learn from them; set out a goal to beat them. It’s a great game for sharpening the mind, training you to always look for the best move when there are hundreds of decisions to make and never underestimating people – a determined pawn can always put a king in check.

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