It is amusing to watch how brands react when an aircraft loaded with “people’s experiences” is about to land on their runway. Much of the reaction is to stare on the oncoming aircraft or run and get out of the way.
The marketplace has become a battle field for consumer attention. Corporations tend to think that just getting attention is a worthy exercise that plays into their “business game”. The game has shifted to the people, formerly known as the audience, who are creating the attention you once thought you could get.
What is the Business Game?
Business is a game of numbers. Have you noticed how obsessed corporations are with having and getting numbers about everything? Ever wonder why? Whether management realizes it or not the reason for obsession with numbers is because of the influence that “business theory” has had and continues to have over business behavior and practices. The problem today is that most business really don’t understand what numbers really matter and why the numbers that matter aren’t even being considered. Especially today given the influence of social technology and the relevant implications to the “game of business”. Have you noticed the obsession with social media ROI?
Social Technology is More about Game Theory than Business Games
Game theory is a branch of applied mathematics that is used in the social sciences, most notably in economics. Game theory attempts to mathematically capture behavior in strategic situations, in which an individual’s success in making choices depends on the choices of others. It has been expanded to treat a wide class of interactions, which are classified according to several criteria. Today, “game theory is a sort of umbrella or ‘unified field’ theory for the rational side of social science, where ‘social’ is interpreted broadly, to include human as well as non-human players (computers, animals, plants)” (Aumann 1987).
Although some developments occurred before it, the field of game theory came into being with the 1944 book Theory of Games and Economic Behavior by John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern. This theory was developed extensively in the 1950s by many scholars.
For institutions to succeed in the social era then leaders need to understand the “game theory”. Why? Read the descriptive again for the game theory. Key words include applied mathematics, social science and economics. Game theory attempts to mathematically capture behavior in strategic situations, in which an individual’s success in making choices depends on the choices of others. Get it yet. The choices of others is what influences individual and organization success. So what is it that all this social stuff is doing? Influencing people’s choices.
Getting people’s attention with manipulative advertising and marketing message is indeed having an effect and influence on people’s choices, the wrong business effect. Now that “people” have the power to “talk back, one to one to many, the influence has shifted from the game of business to the game of people, formerly known as the audience, having the influence.
Millions of people are participating in the “game theory” whether they know it or not. Those businesses that understand and apply “game theory” can begin to make the right choices. In making the right choices by enabling the “people” to make the right choice businesses can tap into the knowledge inventory of applied mathematics, social science and economics.
Having the right knowledge at the right time determines how you play the game. It is no longer about being obsessed with numbers rather being obsessed with acquiring knowledge that influences peoples choices. Get it?