A successful start-up is estimated to be nine-odd – similar to world series of poker codes . The foundation balance is also getting worse from year to year. And this, although the self-awareness of the founders seems to be getting bigger and bigger:

“Whether grandiose or naive explanation approaches for this behavior supply, cannot be ascertained, but many founders obviously play against the probability.”

The Institute for Ludology has now devoted itself to this question and describes how the science of the game and its elements can be raised to a business level in his article “All in?! – What Start-Ups Learn from Poker”. The article appeared in the recently published book ” Spielräume” , which deals with the facets of GAMIFICATION in companies.

Poker players know how hard it is when people assume that poker is mainly based on luck and chance. For poker, besides the component luck and mathematics is based on psychology, strategy and the right tactics. The game rules are quick and easy to learn. Reading your opponents and your own self-reflection, on the other hand, play a decisive role for a successful poker game. Acquiring such skills takes time.

Poker and the notion of success

According to the Institut für Unternehmen, this is the only way to create an awareness of organizational self-reflection and sustainability when the concept of success is extended beyond what is measurable. In this game, flexible organizations have recognized the need to expose their operational behavior to steady market feedback. Equally important is the questioning of organizational knowledge (resources, skills, skills). In connection with the observation of its environment, a critical view of the cultural scene and a holistic viewpoint help. In combination, an unprecedented degree of adaptability and maneuverability can be achieved. Only if this were the case,

Even if the economic playing field and the rules of the game change, self-reflective companies can adapt themselves almost effortlessly to the new playing conditions by means of their organizational self-understanding. Changes in the process of change could be identified at operational, tactical and strategic levels. Like in the meta-level of poker.

Poker as a method

Statistically, the long-term probability of winning the roulette is higher than a start-up. But why is it that a chance of success can be given greater chances of success than a company foundation?

The player himself is the skin figure in assessing the overall situation. “A bad player can play two aces very bad, a good player will get the most out of his cards”. In the Klartext, this means that players / companies who are capable of opening up their options for action beyond the obvious are also able to act self-reflectively.

The observations, within the article, refer to the cash variant of the game Texas Hold’em . Texas Hold’em Poker is a game with 52 cards and max. 10 players. In addition to chance, the game is influenced by psychology and strategy. The gameplay is very simple and the game is not a classic game. Players can shop at any time in the running game, or leave it. The goal of the game is either to move all other players to the exit, or to have the best cards in the hand at the end. This game situation is very similar to the business situation of startups.

Rules of the first order

The rules of the first order describe the explicit rules of the game. Good poker players, however, go beyond these explicit rules. Because they know that the behavior and reactions of the other players as well as their own behavior in a larger context are decisive for the success.

On the other hand, inexperienced players are often lacking control, which leads to losing. A player who has won or lost a lot, reacts unconsciously by the way he plays his next hand. Experienced players, however, they cannot do anything, because this influence factor is quite conscious. They can reflect and respond to it.

In start-ups, too, this awareness is essential, because risk also plays a role here.

A behavior-oriented organization can therefore be compared well with an amateur poker player: he knows the rules only recently and can only access a limited knowledge contingent. He is greedy and has an emotional relationship with his cards (his product), so he simply wants to play them, giving control to the rules of probability and his opponents.

With product ideas it is often similar: the firm belief in the product lacks self-reflection. Also what is happening around the company (the player) is overlooked and therefore he cannot behave adequately. This lack of reflection at the foundation is often a decisive factor for failure.

Second-order game rules

According to the Institute, companies need to move away from the operational hustle and bustle and towards a holistic awareness, a knowledge-oriented perspective. This is the only way a player can reach an understanding level which allows him to understand complex effects and causes. In practice this means that the player becomes the observer and the actions of all players are related to each other. Thus, he can act beyond the explicit rules of the game. The questioning of one’s own actions and one’s own behavior expands its scope for action and thus allows for alternative behaviors with which it can outdo its competitors.

Third-order game rules

The final step is the evaluative perspective. In this meta-level, the observer gains an awareness of his or her own organizational identity (values, norms, etc.) and permanently compensates for the external order (the rules of the game). In this way, he is in a position to constantly develop alternative self-concepts which are in harmony with the playing field (regulatory framework) and his own identity.

A professional poker player has gained a culture-oriented awareness over the years. Thus, he can adapt his game strategy to the behavior of his opponent. It resolves itself from externally defined goals and defines its own. He can counteract the loss of control of his own situation by regulating his goals, or a timely withdrawal. This is, however, only possible if a player questions himself and creates a bird perspective.


Game rooms – from poker and gamificationThe three levels of understanding of the ludological perspective offer an approach to dealing with complexity, the evaluation of situations and self-reflection. Organizational self-reflection is therefore crucial for sustainable growth. This is the only way a company can maintain its operational, tactical and strategic adaptability without abandoning itself.

Those who want to know more about gamification, found in game rooms a perfect insight: For example like games to culture transformation contribute in companies or as employee motivation in the restaurant business can be strengthened through gamification.

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