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Stat 602 – Game Theory and Jogging

Posted by Helena Grossberg on March 28, 2009
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Dr. Patel said very clearly “You will flunk this class. However, your family will still love you, your health and housing will probably remain the same. No need to try harder, it is simply the zero sum game at work”. Huh?

Fast forward a few years, and yes, I passed the course. Did I get all the games? Absolutely not. But I do apply some of the concepts to the day-to-day work.

His words resonate with me as I jog through the park, step by step, tree by tree, as I pass them by… If I win, you lose… It doesn’t have to be this way… I play his words back in my head as I almost lose my breath, and wonder about my customer’s objections and why he can’t do business with me. Another few yards and I hit half of my run. If I lower my rates… If I show him again the benefits… If I bring an expert in my next call…If I make it lighter, more personal, and acknowledge his birthday… If I change my strategy… A million possibilities… I am almost home.

It’s mechanism design in its purest form. I create a sales strategy at work to get the result precisely how I want it to be, and I have an incentive to accomplish my target goals. I present solutions to my customer, using specific rules. Brilliant!

This normative behavior is too serious for me, and reminds me of a song…“choke me in the shallow water, before I get too deep…”

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