In a game of soccer, there are the following: two teams, two goals, rules, and officials. There’s also an agreed upon place and time. Whichever team has the most points at the end of the match - wins.
In pharmacy, we are working in a continuum to provide high quality patient care. There are no sides, no competing teams, no referee, and no finish line.
Best-selling author and speaker Simon Sinek states in his new book, The Infinite Game: “Though school may be finite, there is no such thing as winning education. We can beat out other candidates for a job or promotion, but no one is ever crowned the winner of careers. And there is no such thing as winning business.”
He explains how FINITE-minded companies want to strive to be “Number 1” or the “best” at what they do. In reality, however, our biggest competitor is ourselves. How we did yesterday. The product we launched last year. Instead of comparing our products and services to the next guy, we should we be trying to put out what the world needs and wants, and then, we’ll succeed.
It’s an interesting concept to apply to pharmacy, especially at a time when everything is so tight, so stressful, so lean, and so overwhelming. We are striving for survival, at the macro and micro level. We desperately want our C-suites to notice us while we hustle for the same attention and worthiness from the people in our daily interactions.
In the book, Mr. Sinek tells the story of CVS Caremark’s decision to stop selling tobacco-related products in 2014. There was no petition for this. There was no public demand. No external pressure leading up to their decision. In a finite game, CVS Caremark’s competitors would see this as a ‘win.’ In an infinite game, the competition would be able to see how this could potentially benefit not only CVS Caremark, but also patient care. According to the data in the book, here’s what really happened: overall cigarette sales decreased in states where CVS Caremark had a ≥15% market share, smokers bought less packs of cigarettes, nicotine patch sales increased, AND new companies started doing business with them.
Is CVS Caremark a perfect company? No. None of our companies are perfect. We are all imperfect leaders working at imperfect companies. What can YOU start doing in this infinite game? You are the future leaders of pharmacy. You will one day lead teams, lead departments of pharmacy, and lead health-systems. You will want to familiarize yourself with the rules of the infinite game vs finite game. Our patients deserve our intentional drive to improve their lives MORE than our drive to beat our competition.
“The Courage to Lead is the willingness to take risks for the good of an unknown future.” -Simon Sinek
Tell us if you’ve read The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek and what was your biggest a-ha?