Journey with me into the world of science fiction – digital space, if you will!
“Ender’s Game” is my all-time favorite book. Written by Orson Scott Card and first published in 1985, this book is entertaining beyond belief. I think all business people should read it. Why? Because you can learn a lot of business lessons, tactics, philosophies and strategies from it!
We meet the book’s protagonist Ender Wiggin when he is only six years old, bred to be a warrior. We watch him grow and endure a terrifying battle training regime. A child warrior? Yes, because in a dystopian future, Earth is under attack by insectoid aliens seemingly bent on destroying humanity.
I vividly remember reading about the rigorous and cruel training that the selected young people had to undergo. They had to be prepared for a battle with aliens many decades in the future; they did not know they were preparing to face such an epic foe. Deceptions wrapped up into games are all for the sake of a higher cause. The chapters about training demonstrated the significance of tactical genius and pragmatic approach to solving complex problems. Ender and the other characters are continually faced with arduous and seemingly hopeless problems.
Which leads me to one of my favorite quotes from the story. “If you try and lose then it isn’t your fault. But if you don’t try and we lose, then it’s all your fault.”
Adversity is a powerful teacher. As violent as the training is, Ender continually learns. He also develops his own leadership skills: adaptability, tenacity, the value of practice and deep reflection.
He learns the necessity of knowing his team. By supporting each member improve, he helps his team reach their greatest potential. He also empowers them to think and act when he isn’t there to make decisions. He built everyone’s confidence in their capabilities, to adapt, evaluate problems and solutions. He encouraged creativity!
While showing his team he trusts them, Ender earns their trust. This young warrior created a culture powered by the group’s cohesion, creativity, and ability to adapt.
“Ender’s Game” taught me that audacious goals can require great dedication and even greater sacrifice. I learned about leveraging weakness as well as strengths strategically, the power of being utilitarian and objective, and the potential cost of “winning” at all cost.
Everyone who studies business learns about SWOT analysis. This assessment of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats is a go-to tool in business. It also works when you are building a youth battalion to fight aliens! You have to know your objectives, available resources, chinks in your armor and hidden strengths to build a solid strategy! Hope is NOT a strategy.
You must keep your end in mind! In business, it can be all too easy to get pulled off task by day-to-day demands. It is the leader who plans for the end goal then keeps their eyes on the outcome for the win!
I don’t know if my fear of losing, solving problems and being relentlessly strategic started with “Ender’s Game,” but it hasn’t ended. I still love solving complex problems.
This book has influenced me in many ways. It has certainly impacted my philosophies on business more than any other book, with one possible exception – Sunzi’s “Art of War”- but “Ender’s Game” is much more entertaining in my opinion.
Read the book! Don’t watch the 2013 movie. (It’s bad and you’re not going to understand why I love the book so much!) Let me know if you have lessons that translate from SciFi to business.