‘What game are we playing?’ can be a powerful and fruitful question, especially in organisational life. Because what we think we’re doing, and what the game is, are often not the same.
Meetings, for example.
Is being in meetings, back to back, day in and day out, actually productive? Does it help you to make better decisions? Does it help you do the work, the work that matters, what really needs to be done (to make a difference, to be of service, to create something new)?
Or are meetings, mostly, a game we play to give us a sense of participation, of being important, of being inclusive, of being busy, and of feeling safe?
Or planning. Do the predictions in your forecasts often come to pass? Or are they a game in which you and others get to soothe your anxiety and feel like you’re taking action, rather than facing how unpredictable the world can be?
One of my games, I’m starting to see more clearly, is asking for help then secretly doing it myself. It’s a game in which I get to feel righteous, inclusive and democratic, and simultaneously hold on to control.
And, like many games, it is one which I play at quite some cost to myself and others, and which rarely produces the results I really long for.
Naming the game is risky, difficult, and takes some courage. Mostly we do not like to have the mythology of our personal and collective games punctured.
But sometimes it’s what’s called for in order to free us to do what we really came to do.