PODCAST

Business Games

Business Games Ltd

An educational podcast where we apply game theory to business, to help you make better decisions under uncertainty. Check out our website for the public Blog, Executive Newsletter, and Premium content: https://www.business-games.ai/ A combination of original content and guest interviews, packaged into seasons; every season revolves around a single topic. All topics lead to making better decisions. Designed for: Senior AND Aspiring Business Decision Makers. Are you a Solopreneur or a Student of Business? We've got content for you, too.

"Your Portable Toilet Business Has Nothing to Learn From Steve Jobs"
27-10-2021
"Your Portable Toilet Business Has Nothing to Learn From Steve Jobs"
Business experimentation is NOT only for tech firms. Why, When, and How do we run business experiments? Yes, even for your portable toilet business. Originally planned to be 1 week later, now dropped within the same week as the Overall Intro. Next week, The Experimental One starts—Yay!—but in this episode, I talk about the choice of Business Experimentation to start this educational podcast + newsletter with. We get into many of the building blocks around game theory and business, our two main foci—and how business experimentation helps you make better decisions under uncertainty. We'll see after The Experimental One if my bet on starting like this—rather than jumping into the deep end with Nash Equilibria and such—paid off. As I said on the last episode, we'll build towards The Gamey Theoretical One as we go along. It's an experiment in itself! Contents1. Welcome to! Business Games! [00:06] 2. Exec Summary / Abstract [00:41] 3. The Basic Premise [01:37] 3.1 The Topic [01:37] 3.2 The Context(s) [02:47] 3.3 The Approach [05:01] 3.4 Two Words about Interviews [06:48] 4. What You Should Expect in Season One (the Experimental One) [09:48] 4.1 S01e01 JP Castlin x2 (Public + Premium) [10:54] 4.2 S01e02 Professor Ananish Chaudhuri x2 (Public + Premium) [15:42] 4.3 S01e03 Dawie Olivier x2 (Public + Premium) [20:23] 4.4 S01e04 Melissa Clark-Reynolds ONZM x2 (Public + Premium) [22:45] 4.5 S01e05 Ashlee Berghoff x2 (Public + Premium) [25:20] 4.6 S01e06 Rory Sutherland x2 (Public + Premium) [29:57] 4.7 S01e07 Lit Review [32:56] 4.8 S01e08 Bonus Discussion Episode with JP Castlin (Public) + Season Overview + Thoughts (Premium) [36:56] 4.9 S01e09 Season One Mailbag Episode (Premium) [37:38] 5. The Homework [38:14] The Lit ListRead this fun article, first:  (Disney is playing a bigger game in its box office battle with Scarlett Johansson (marketingweek.com)) (Want to Make Better Decisions? Start Experimenting (mit.edu)) (Building a Culture of Experimentation (hbr.org)) (Avoid the Pitfalls of A/B Testing (hbr.org)) (“The Power of These Techniques Is Only Getting Stronger” (hbr.org)) (Why Business Schools Need to Teach Experimentation (hbr.org)) (Experimentation Works: The Surprising Power of Business Experiments (hbr.org)) (The Discipline of Business Experimentation (hbr.org)) (Using Experiments to Launch New Products (hbr.org)) (A/B Testing: How to Get It Right (hbr.org)) (Marketers Underuse Ad Experiments. That’s a Big Mistake. (hbr.org)) (How to Make Data Experiments Powerful (mit.edu)) (Don’t Let Digital...
“Where Are the Grown-Ups?”
02-11-2021
“Where Are the Grown-Ups?”
JP Castlin on Complexity, what it means for your business, and how to deal with it via safe-to-fail experimentation. Originally planned to be Episode 1 of Season 1 (as per audio), becomes S02e02 because we now have 2 full intro episodes and can't have Episode 0 or Season Zero on the podcast platforms. Next week, we'll talk about Experimental Economics—but in this episode, JP Castlin talks to us about complexity, how understanding complexity is relevant for running a business, and how it all relates to experimentation. About Business Games: (www.business-games.ai/about/) ContentsAdd ~1 min to the timestamps after 11th minute mark. Introduction [00:00] On Complexity: A Primer [03:55] On Systems: In Nature and Organizations—Ordered Clear, Complicated, Complex, and Chaotic [04:38] A Marketing Example of a Dispositional System [06:14] …and a Chaotic System [06:53] On Experimenting in Different Kinds of Systems [07:09] On Two Types of Uncertainty: Epistemic (Knowledge-based) and Aleatory (Inherent and Irreducible) [08:11] On Contexts and More on Quantum Mechanics Vs Newtonian Physics [12:02] On How to Deal with Uncertainty in Complexity [13:49] Fail-safe Vs Safe-to-fail: Marvel Vs Blumhouse [15:15] Experimentation in Various Contexts [19:13] Online Vs Offline, and Operational Efficiency Vs Strategic Choice [20:28] On Eternal Boiling, Premature Convergence, A/B Testing, and Local Optima [23:46] System Has Its Own Behaviour: Ants and Colonies [26:52] Strategy and (Equi-) Probability [27:53] On Not Getting Disheartened [30:58] On Boundary Conditions, Company-specific Metrics, Scaling and Dampening [31:57] On Corporate Versus SME, Small Versus Big [34:28] On Product Versus Service [36:40] On Services, Complexity, Causality, and Defensive Decision-making [39:24] On the Value of Consultants in Complexity [46:12] On Cost-out Versus Value-add, Start-ups and Scaling [49:36] On Start-ups and Proprietary Data [51:09] On Deliberate Versus Emergent Strategy [52:54] (More) on How to Deal with Complex Problems in Practice [55:02] The Homework [57:39] JP’s Own Work as It Relates to Experiments, Strategy, and Complexity [01:00:17] On the Key Takeaways: Both Jokingly and Seriously [01:07:18] On Emotions in Experimentation [01:10:24] Links to JP’s WorkSubstack:  (Strategy in Praxis)  (  (JP Castlin)  (  (@JPCastlin)  (  (  ( (Laplace & Demons - Strategy in Praxis | (substack.com)) (Bets & Blockbusters - Strategy in Praxis | (substack.com)) (Marc Pritchard knows better than to believe P&G can act like a startup | (marketingweek.com)) (Where are the grown-ups? | LinkedIn) Some Other Links Mentioned (Epistemic vs. Aleatory uncertainty - apppm (dtu.dk)) (Cynefin Framework | Wikipedia) (Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters | Amazon) (How Brands Grow) (Cognitive...
“‘Oh no, I am so completely fair and rational.’—That’s not true.”
09-11-2021
“‘Oh no, I am so completely fair and rational.’—That’s not true.”
What do Devil's Advocates, information cascades, egos, and gender pay equity have in common? Find out here as Prof. Ananish Chaudhuri introduces experimental economics. Part 1/2 Prof. Chaudhuri introduces behavioural and experimental economics [04:38]; talks about how to start experiments by using existing published knowledge, first [12:25]; carrots & sticks versus intrinsic motivation [14:37]; wisdom of the crowd versus information cascades [29:30]; HR and gender pay equity [16:58]; individual versus group decision making [33:46]; electronic betting markets [35:43]; egos and buy-in [38:08], and more. A bonus, paid-members-only follow-up discussion available on the personal Premium podcast feed ( (subscribe by clicking here)) will dive much deeper into all the above + online experiment platforms & how to use them to set up experiments in your firm, separating incentives from beliefs, COVID vaccines & response, Pilots versus Doctors making mistakes, and much-much more. Next week, we’ll look at corporate experimentation, crisis response, psychological safety, creativity, and more with Dawie Olivier—an established CIO and advisor to corporates & start-ups. Last week, we introduced complexity theory and set up the experimentation contexts with JP Castlin. Links to Some of Prof. Chaudhuri’s WorkWWW:  (  (  (@ProfAnanish) Behavioural Economics and Experiments (book, 1st edition):  ( Other Links Mentioned (Could Blind Job Interviews Take on Gender Pay Pap? | Newsroom) See  (Great Leadership: The Obligation to Dissent (greatleadershipbydan.com)) for the discussion of the concept and the suggested antidote. About Business Games Premium (
"It's Not the Place You Can Charge Into With Answers…"
16-11-2021
"It's Not the Place You Can Charge Into With Answers…"
"…Only the Place You Can Charge Into With Listening"—Dawie Olivier on dealing with crises, creating emotional safety, and fostering curiosity & creativity in a large corporate. Also: full contact leadership, progressive learning mindset, reading widely, and journaling. When we talk about experimentation with Dawie Olivier—an experienced leader, CIO/CTO, and an advisory board member to several tech firms—we end up talking about biases and how to deal with them, emotional safety, curiosity… and not at all technology. Find out why one set of these concepts is much, much more important than the other. Last Episode, I did a deep dive into electronic decision markets and how they can help setting up experiments in your company. Next Episode, we dive deeper into one theme from this week's interview. Note: this is the contents of the full episode available on  (Business Games Premium). Public feed contains an abridged version. Subscribe by clicking here:  (Business Games Premium) ContentsIntroduction [00:00] On Tragedies and Response [02:47] On Corporate Might and Listening Before Acting [08:35] On Strategic Effects of Crisis Response [12:57] On Corporate Experimentation, Disruption, Fear, Anxiety, Risk, and Progressive Discovery On Corporate Experimentation and Anxiety [15:00] On Progressive Learning and Experimentation as Core Function of Business, Not an Add-On [16:58] On the Value of Progressive Discovery in Overcoming Fear and Biases, and in Creating Fast Learning [18:52] On Fear of Not Being in Control, and Making Bets in Ever-Changing Contexts [20:19] On Problems to Be Solved and How They Relate to the Progressive Learning Mindset [22:22] On History of Vulnerability in Leadership [27:33] On Discomfort, Safety, and Creativity [30:07] On Unlocking Curiosity and Its Role in Progressive Learning [32:19] On KPI Versus Useful Measurement and Measures [40:16] On Making Collective Decisions Around Senior Leadership Teams and Boards [46:21] On Experimentation from the Senior Leadership and Board Tables [51:10] The Homework: Read Widely and Do Journaling [54:55] Rapid-fire Questions and Concepts [57:23] Leadership BS [57:42] Map Is Not the Terrain [59:08] Gemba Technique [1:00:19] Own Work of Dawie as It Relates to Corporate Transformation and Improvement, Leadership, and Board Advisory Work [1:03:37] Links to Dawie's WorkLinkedIn:  ( to PremiumSubscribe by clicking here:  (Business Games Premium)
"Don't Ask, 'What Would I Do in Their Shoes?'—Ask, 'What Would *They* Do in Their Shoes?'"
23-11-2021
"Don't Ask, 'What Would I Do in Their Shoes?'—Ask, 'What Would *They* Do in Their Shoes?'"
How could Melissa Clark-Reynolds ONZM predict the pandemic collapse of seaports in the US? And Why is your board bad at strategy?—If you can answer these two questions, your firm would be much better off. This is only part of the full episode that is available on Business Games Premium's private podcast feed. Breaking News (at the time)—Omicron!A note about the new Omicron variant of Covid discovered in South Africa in November 2021. We recorded this episode with Melissa in early 2021, a good 6 months before the news broke about the new variant B.1.1.529 that later got the name Omicron. With Melissa, we talked about many things on predictions, the central topic being how she was one of the first within the business community to have predicted the coming pandemic. We covered what a foresight professional should do, and how to predict the next pandemic—including some signs that she was monitoring in early-mid-2021 when she had concerns that there could be something else popping up in late 2021. We put up this episode on Monday the 22nd November. On Thursday the 25th, the news broke about the variant B.1.1.529. Revisiting this episode, it is startling how ever more relevant the content is. Now, normally, we only release full episodes to Premium Members. This particular episode was available in full for almost a week now, and I communicated on social media that I'd be removing the full episode from the public feed. If you want to hear the full episode, you can subscribe to Business Games Premium on  (www.business-games.ai): Subscribe by clicking here:  (Business Games Premium) You should also subscribe to our free newsletter if you want to learn more about making predictions in business, business strategy, and making better decisions under uncertainty. In content terms, you get: Premium >>> Newsletter > Free Subscribe to PremiumFull transcripts of everything if you want to have notes or prefer reading + deep dives into selected topics. Subscribe by clicking here:  (Business Games Premium) Show NotesHow could Melissa know the pandemic was coming before most? How to read weak signals. How does anthropology help in forecasting? How did Melissa predict the pandemic-related collapse of seaports in the US? What should your board understand about strategy? How is prediction like experimentation? We cover all this and more in this episode. Last interview, we discussed Corporate experimentation with Dawie Olivier. Next interview, we cover SME and solopreneur sector experimentation with Ashlee Berghoff MBA. Contents (time stamps from the Full version)Introduction [00:00] On Predicting the Pandemic: Habitats, Mammals, Climate Change, Patterns, and Weak Signals [02:47] On Linking Forecasting and Experimentation, Chess as an Analogy for Strategy, Anthropology, Culture as the Basis for Business Moves, Creative Writing and Analytics [17:24] On Where to Play, How to Win [27:30] On Business Model Innovation versus Tech Innovation [28:40] On Strategy Versus Strategic Planning [39:01] On Experiments at the Board Table [46:24] The Homework: Read Widely, Capture and Review Signals [56:52] Own Work of Melissa as It Relates to Experiments, Signals, and Subscription Services [1:10:53] On Covid, Ports, and Behaviour [1:13:35] Links to Melissa’s Work (@HoneyBeeGeek)  ( Other Links Mentioned (Subscription Management and Recurring Revenue Solutions | Zuora) (Stratechery) (Your Strategy Needs a Strategy | HBR) (Your Strategy...
A "Shiny Object" Syndrome
08-12-2021
A "Shiny Object" Syndrome
"One of the Biggest Detrimental Habits [for Entrepreneurs Is] a Shiny Object Syndrome"—The Entrepreneurial Marathon With Ashlee Berghoff. This week, we turn to our final context: SME, lifestyle entrepreneurs, and solopreneurs. Ashlee Berghoff tells us her insights after having swapped a corporate consultancy lifestyle for helping lifestyle entrepreneurs get out of the "messy middle" of the entrepreneurial marathon. Last interview, we discussed experimentation at the boardroom table and predicting pandemics with Melissa Clark-Reynolds ONZM. Next interview, we cover creativity and random bees with Rory Sutherland. Contents—Time Stamps From the Full PodcastIntroduction [00:00] On the Entrepreneurial Marathon, Maximizing the Chance of Success, and Dealing with Experimental Failure [06:00] On People Resisting Systems, on Enabling Creativity via Systems and Constraints [10:49] On Uncertainty [14:28] On the Difference Between Solopreneurship and Hiring Employees When It Comes to Risk-taking and Experiments [18:29] On How to Involve Your Employees in Experiments [20:47] Two Anecdotes on Small Business Experimentation [25:00] On the Hero Journey to Be a Guide; On Leadership and Communication [29:42] On Process Versus Achievement, Perfectionism Versus Failure, and Dealing with the Messy Middle [36:56] The Homework: Long-Form Reading, Writing Things down, and Business Wars [41:47] Own Work of Ashlee as It Relates to SMEs and Solopreneurs, the Book, and Systems [52:45] Links to Ashlee’s WorkEureka Results (book):  (  ( Squared:  ( Mentioned (Road Runner Creativity Guardrails Tweet) (Netflix vs Blockbuster | Wondery's Business Wars) Other links available in the transcript on  (Business Games Premium)
And Just Like That… a Year Turns
17-12-2021
And Just Like That… a Year Turns
Season's greetings and a quick overview of the upcoming 2022 content | Learner's Digest # 7 Welcome to! the Learner's Digest edition of Business Games. I wanted to share the festive season's greetings and the best wishes for the year's turn! Now, I'm not going to get all emotional and write or speak with pathos—it's not that kind of show. However, the year will turn, and with its turning we will get reflective and nostalgic and hopeful. I'm saving my reflections for the end of the Experimental Season, which will come in January / February 2022. And just like that… let us cover where we are and what's happening next. We are about 60% through our Experimental Season. We've covered an overview with JP, Experimental Economics with Ananish, corporate experimentation with Dawie, board-room and start-up experimentation and predictions with Melissa, SME experimentation with Ashlee. The private feed contains twice as many episodes, providing deep dives and connective tissue episodes. What's left is the following: Rory Sutherland discussing experimentation and creativity; A bonus JP episode discussing a sort of a wrap-up where I share with JP what I've learnt through this season and he shares his reflections on complexity; A lit review of the business articles on experimentation; A fuller wrap-up where I provide the reflections on the whole season, and the key takeaways. Most of these episodes will be on the private feed. Given that this is a turn of the year and it is a festive season, I'm giving my listeners an option to get a trial month of premium content for free. All you have to do is: Go to  (www.business-games.ai) and subscribe to the free newsletter. Then, in early January, watch out in your Inbox for an email with the instructions on how to get your trial month. Note: it's not advertised and is only available to the free newsletter subscribers—so head over to our website and choose the free subscription.
"Measurement Is Creativity's Bizarre Half-Sister"
30-01-2022
"Measurement Is Creativity's Bizarre Half-Sister"
20% of the bees in the hive ignore the waggle dance. Why? What do the efficiency-oriented bee accountants say? How do you measure the RoI on the rogue bee activity? How is any of this relevant to innovation? Listen to Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman of Ogilvy, to get the answers. Become a Premium Learning Member here: ( (time stamps from the Full version)Introduction [00:00] On Measurement, Creativity, and Exploit-Explore Trade-Off On That We Don't Know Everything There Is To Know [04:06] On the Role of Experimentation in Explore, and Testing Things That Don't Make Sense [08:53] Abduction and Innovation: Reasoning Backwards and Business Significance On Abductive Reasoning [13:19] On Innovation in Start-Ups Versus Established Companies: Stock Markets and Shareholders [18:10] On the Benefits of Being a Rogue Bee [23:17] On the Necessity of Probabilistic Thinking and Accounting for Search Costs: Creating the "Explore Department" in a Firm [26:25] On Statistical Significance Versus Business Significance [39:08] On Murders and Detectives: More Backward Reasoning [42:47] On How To Innovate Through Mistakes: AI Poetry, Meerkats, Charities and Sex Toys [49:15] On Just Reading the Data and More Murders: How To Be a Data Detective [57:33] On "Alchemy", Financial Alpha, Comedy, and Those at the Peak of Their Professions [1:04:45] On Cryptic Crosswords and More Detective Work [1:09:01] On Why Is There Too Much Logic and Not Enough Exploration: You Don't Get Fired for Being Logical [1:11:23] On How Innovation and Marketing Works, Habits and Mimetics, and How To Practice Ethical Capitalism [1:17:59] On Why Aussies and Kiwis Go To London [1:23:04] On Future of Work and Futuristic Cities: Mega- Or Small? On Why Nassim Taleb Advocates for Suburbia. And On Berlin, London, Auckland, Frankfurt… [1:28:03] Mini-Summary: Explore-Exploit and Behavioural Science [1:37:25] Homework: Books To Read (and Cryptic Crosswords) [1:40:23] On Good Tea: TIELKA® [1:47:14] Links to Rory’s WorkTwitter:  (@rorysutherland) LinkedIn:  ( wiki man | The SPECTATOR:  ( The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don't Make Sense (book):  (Amazon.com: Alchemy) TED Talks:  (Rory Sutherland | Speaker | TED) :  (  ( Other Links Mentioned (TIELKA® | BEAUTIFUL ORGANIC TEA) All the books and other links referenced are in the full transcript:  ("Measurement Is Creativity's Bizarre Half-Sister")