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The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist's Guide To Success In Business And Life Paperback – Dec 22 2009
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"It is an easy read and is written in a lively tone-which is not something I particularly recall from my lectures in the 1980s. Long live economics!" John Burns, The Times Higher Education "Unlike most of the ranks of management advice books which pad out bookshop business sections, here is one which is rigorous, fun and extremely useful all at the same time." The Economist
About the Author
Barry J. Nalebuff is the Milton Steinbach Professor at the Yale School of Management. Nalebuff applies game theory to business strategy and is the co-founder of one of America's fastest-growing companies, Honest Tea.
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I'm not certain why they exist as two separate books. The content is almost identical, and 90% of the examples in this one were lifted from that. I have no idea why this is touted as a "sequel." It is not. It's just Thinking Strategically repackaged (but I will say that its package is prettier). The tagline says that it's a "guide to success in business and life," but it is not. It is game theory explained in an accessible way.
I love game theory. I studied economics in college, and game theory had been my favorite class. I enjoyed Thinking Strategically and looked forward to reading this one. I was disappointed. Had I not read Thinking Strategically, I probably would have found this enjoyable, but I'm giving it two stars for the false advertising.
Also highly recommended, but more specifically for business applications, is Co-opetition, co-authored by Barry Nalebuff who is a co-author of The Art of Strategy.
p.s. Below please find some of my favorite passages for your reference.
What makes something a game: you have to take into account the objectives and strategies of the other players. When guessing a number picked at random, the number isn't trying to hide. You can take the engineer's mindset and divide the interval in two and do the best possible. But if you are playing a game, then you have to consider how the other player will be acting and how those decisions will influence your strategy. Pg6
Sailboat racing offers the chance to observe an interesting reversal of a "follow the leader" strategy. The leading sailboat usually copies the strategy of the trailing boat. When the follower racks, so does the leader. The imitates the follower even when the follower is clearly pursuing a poor strategy. Why? Because in sailboat racing close doesn't count: only winning matters. |If you have the lead. The surest way to stay ahead is to play monkey see, monkey do. Stock market analysts and economic forecasters are not immune to this copycat strategy. The leader forecasters have an incentive to follow the pack and produce predictions similar to everyone else's. This way people are unlikely to change their perception of these forecasters' abilities. On the other hand, new comers take the risky strategies; they tend to predict boom or doom. Usually they are wrong and are never heard of again but now and again they are proven correct and move to the ranks of the famous. pg11
In poker, player battle this paradox when it comes to raising the stakes. If a player bets only when he ahs a strong hand, the other players will soon figure this out. In response to a raise, most other players will fold, and he'll never win a big pot. Those who raise back will have even stronger hands, and so our poor player will end up a big loser. To get others to bet against a strong hand, they have to think you might be bluffing. To convince them of this possibility, it helps to bet often enough so that you must be bluffing some of the time. This leads to an interesting dilemma. You'd like others to fold against your bluffs and thereby win with weak hands. But that won't lead to high pot victories. To convince others to raise your bets, you also need to get caught bluffing. pg24
A critical lesson in game theory: You need to understand the other player's perspective. You need to consider what they know, what motivates them, and even how they think about you. George Bernard Shaw's quip on the golden rule was to not do unto others as you would have them do unto you - their tastes may be different. When thinking strategically, you have to work extra hard to understand the perspective and interactions of all the other players in the game, including ones who may be silent. That brings us to one last point. You may be thinking you are playing one game, but it is only part of a larger game. There is always a larger game. Pg28
If you have to take some risks, it is often better to do so as quickly as possible. This is obvious to those who play tennis....That way, if you fail on your first attempt, the game won't be over. You may still have time to take some other options that can bring you back to or even ahead of where you were. The wisdom of taking risks early applies to most aspects of life, whether it be career choices, investments, or dating. Pg63
Bonus - the "Trips to the Gym" (opportunities to think about and apply topics discussed in each chapter) and case studies were great exercises to help me check my understanding of each principle, which was tremendously helpful.
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