Gini Dietrich

Three Strategy Games that Help in Business

By: Gini Dietrich | December 4, 2014 | 
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Strategy GamesBy Gini Dietrich

On the third day of Christmas, Spin Sucks gave to you… three strategy games, two Crazies secrets, and the PR win of 2014.

You’ve likely read this story before, but in my 20s, when I was a young whippersnapper, the feedback I got on my reviews every year was, “You need to be more strategic.”

But no one told me HOW to be more strategic. You know how I learned? Trial and error.

In fact, I kept a list of words at my desk for a long time that I called strategy words. It was an easy way for me to remember how to build something that was strategic and smart.

Today, of course, when someone on my teams needs to be more strategic, we have tools in place to teach them how to do that. We don’t just give the feedback and walk away for them to figure it out alone.

Start with the End in Mind

I always start with helping the person think about the end. What does success look like?

For young women, I use a wedding as an example. What does your wedding look like? Who will be there? What kind of music will you have? What will you serve?

When she can picture the day perfectly, I turn that example to work to help her think through what the end result will be for a client.

This visualization helps immensely.

But there are other ways you can hone those skills, outside of work.

I always suggest playing one of three games.

Three Strategy Games

  1. Words with Friends. I play a lot of WWF. It’s a great app for when you’re waiting for the airplane to take off or you’re on the rental car bus or you’re sitting on the tarmac or you’re in the doctor’s office. It’s a great downtime app AND it teaches you strategy. I easily have 10 or more games going at once and this is what shocks me about how people play: They don’t think strategically about it at all. They leave the triple words open for me ALL THE TIME. It may be two or three moves away, but it’s clear they’re not thinking about it at all. If you play with the end in mind (don’t leave the triple words open!), this will help you think strategically in other areas of your life. It won’t happen at once, but it will come with time. Don’t leave the triple words open.
  2. Chess. Chess is probably the strategy game and what you should play if you’re going to choose just one. It requires you to define the strategy, determine where you’ll play, and then execute your tactics. It requires you to think several moves ahead so your opponent can’t strike against you (mate) before you get him or her. Like Words with Friends, it won’t happen overnight, but the more you play, the easier it will be for you to see 15 moves ahead and win the game.
  3. Risk. Like the other two games mentioned, Risk allows you to develop a strategy to win a war. You are the general of your army and you must position yourself to win outright. Which means you’ll strategically lose some battles, if it means it will set you up to win the war. Unlike Chess, it can take less time to play a game, but certainly more time than Words with Friends. It’s also a fun game to teach your kids how to think strategically before the join the workforce and are told it’s something they need to work on.

So there you have it. Are there strategy games you recommend?

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • (from here on out I am always going to be tempted to start my comments with “First Comment” (like they do on Instagram) but I won’t )……………………..I have not started WWF because honestly would I ever get anything done again? Ever? Strategy games are in every way an indicator of how linear and literal I can be; I always struggle with them. Word games may be a little better since I like words so much but otherwise? Definitely not my forte (but as you point out, we can always improve ….).

  • biggreenpen Oh man! #LostMySuperPower by a whole 10 minutes!
    I used to play WWF all the time and that was the problem, it took up so much time I had to stop. Risk is a an awesome game. We don’t play it enough. I have yet to learn Chess. I started to learn Bridge (the card game) and that is a great strategy game.

  • Funny story about chess.  I was in the Chess Club in high school and had a fair amount of success, but I was terrible at looking ahead and normally went with my gut. It was so embarrassing to have to explain my methods to anyone.  🙂  

    I think what makes chess so great is that it marries process and strategy.  

    I’m with biggreenpen – I would never get anything done if I started to play WWF.  LSSocialEngage  – I LOVE Bridge!

  • SavvyCopywriter

    Not that I needed an excuse to play more Words With Friends but now I have one. AWESOME! Thanks. 🙂 Now I need to learn Chess and Risk…

  • As I said yesterday when Lindsay shared this video, my vision for my wedding involves getting this guy to attend and help liven up the dance floor:
    http://youtu.be/Hw0IHt9QaDg
    Also, I played WWF for awhile, but it ended up being a huge time drain for me because you have to spend so much time thinking about things. Uhg. Thinking. Call me in when you’re looking for decisiveness though! I can do that!
    Hmm … wait. I feel like there’s a teachable moment in here ….

  • LSSocialEngage biggreenpen You ladies totally crack me up!

  • Eleanor Pierce oh. wow.

  • You know I’ve never ever gotten anyone to teach me chess! I’ve asked numerous people but no one wants to do it. I’m not sure if this says something about me, or my friends! Hahah! But now I’m on a mission. This is a great list and reminder– along with your “read more fiction to become a better writer advice.” I think there is often a tendency to push off things like brain games and fiction reading as not useful vs. looking at the value they provide.

  • LauraPetrolino We could play on our phones, if you want. The best way to learn is to play.

  • Eleanor Pierce ELLIE! Did you just ruin Gin and Topics for tomorrow?!? Jeez.

  • SavvyCopywriter If you need someone to play…

  • HeatherTweedy That makes me laugh! “So how did you get here?” “Well, um, my gut?”

  • biggreenpen You want to play Ruzzle with me? It’s a word game that I love. It only takes two minutes a turn. And you can play during downtime.

  • LSSocialEngage I’ll bet Risk would be fun with the kids.

  • SavvyCopywriter

    ginidietrich Bring it on! 😉

  • LauraPetrolino My kids’ elementary school had a chess project – every kid got their own little portable board. It was very cool. They didn’t teach parents, though!

  • ginidietrich biggreenpen #TwistMyArm

  • I used to play a lot of WWF. It was addictive!  I forced myself to take a break and have yet to start it up again. My dad taught me Chess when I was young, but I didn’t stick with it so now I have no idea what I’m doing. I should buy Risk for Christmas. When we get together with my husband’s family, we play a lot of cards – Rummy, Spades, Hand & Foot, Pitch, etc. A strategy is needed for each of those. One of my favorite games, however, is Clue.

  • ginidietrich biggreenpen uname: paulakiger (so original right?!)

  • Check Matey! Haven’t played words with friends but the other two are tops. Another great game is Backgammon because it constantly has you weigh choosing best odds (head) vs what you want to call for a roll (heart)

    I would also include Candyland. There is a very subtle context of that game well above the 4+ rating.

  • HeatherTweedy biggreenpen Yes Heather it is a great game. I haven’t played in a while though. Having a good partner, one that you communicate with well is so important. It’s hilarious to watch the “fights” especially when it’s a husband and wife partner and one didn’t “get” what the other was trying to communicate in their bidding.

  • ginidietrich Yes, with my 7 year old for sure. #WorldDominance  but the 4 year old I am afraid may be more interested in putting the armies in his ears or something like that – maybe in another couple years for him.

  • Heck yeah, chess! I’d add Stratego, Axis & Allies and Settlers of Catan into the mix.

  • biggreenpen ginidietrich She’ll spank you, Paula.

  • LauraPetrolino Learning how each piece moves is fairly straightforward, but that’s just the beginning. Play online or, even better, find a local chess club. 😀

  • Kara I am pretty sure you do not for one sec look like someone who is a big WWF Fan. ginidietrich told me she secretly watches Monday Night Smack Down! which is probably the best prime time wrestling show on TV. At least my dad says so. It just goes to prove don’t judge a person by their avatar!

  • mxmulder

    Chess and Risk are great strategy games. To echo @http://www.livefyre.com/profile/99373/ Settlers of Catan is another game of strategy that has business related applications.

  • jasonkonopinski biggreenpen McDonkadonk! Shut it!

  • mxmulder Nerds. 🙂

  • jasonkonopinski Kelly plays Settlers of Catan. Nerds. All of you.

  • Howie Goldfarb Candyland. Sure.

  • Kara Yay! Christmas gifts!

  • ginidietrich jasonkonopinski biggreenpen Dear Jason, I like namaste/love all Jason better than smack talking Jason FWIW (but I just played my first two minutes and you may be right!) #FeelingQuasiLiterate

  • ginidietrich Eleanor Pierce Oh. Whoooooopsie.

  • My son, at a very young age, regularly whooped my butt at chess. I mean, every single game. And yes, I realize you’re not surprised to hear that, ginidietrich! LOL

  • ginidietrich You say that like it’s a bad thing. cc mxmulder

  • biggreenpen She’s ruthless. ginidietrich

  • ginidietrich It was always pretty awkward.  Luckily, I got really cool and moved to Speech and Debate instead……

  • DanSpicer

    MediaLabRat ginidietrich Interesting stuff.

  • belllindsay I feel like we should play. You know, for an ego boost for me.

  • mxmulder

    ginidietrich my favorite is still chess. There is so much you can learn about a person from the opening moves. And the life skills learned from chess are why I encouraged my children to take chess club.

  • ginidietrich LauraPetrolino Yes please! Let’s do that!

  • jasonkonopinski LauraPetrolino I might try to find a chess club! That would actually be really fun. I was looking for a scrabble club the other day

  • Howie Goldfarb So what does a Jake the Snake, Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant fan look like? Guess that dates me a bit. And really I name those three b/c they are the only three I know. (Much prefer Andre of Princess Bride fame.) I wonder what ginidietrich’s favorite Smack Down moves are. She could demonstrate via video.

  • KateNolan

    ginidietrich jasonkonopinski biggreenpen McDonkadonk? What is going on here?

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