Multiple Moves – An Experiment

Posted: February 1, 2016 in Opinions and Observations
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I started a project a while ago; coming from me that usually means decades!  I have worked in a number of manufacturing plants, sales and service positions, you get the idea.  So I have worked with and under a lot of managers.  As I lazily wondered one night which was the best and worst manager I have known, I came up with a simple test and I would like your help broadening the test base.

This is the only question to the managers in this survey;

“Are you a chess player?”.

There are many facets to being a manager or a person that instructs others.  I understand the volume of demand and deadlines they are responsible for.  But the good managers I have known in the recent past have been chess players at some point in their lives and many still play.  I think the reason for this very subjective observation is the ability to plan multiple moves ahead.  And that means you also have to plan your opponent’s multiple moves ahead…..

All the other rules aside, that is the heart of the game.  If you are a chess player,  you get that driven into you quickly or you end up losing every game you play.  If you cannot see the trap being built, you cannot avoid it even if it is right in front of you.  The possible combinations are mind boggling and attacks can come from any direction or all at once.  Enough about playing chess.

Sports training seems to be different though there are a lot of exceptions and comparisons. Team sports of course must predict what the other team is going to do and prepare for it.  Many people making many decisions about actions in their assigned position.  Individual sports concentrates on doing the action until it is perfect, but once perfected is simply repeated.  EASY FOR ME TO SAY!

Has that been your experience?  If you ask the best managers you know if they play chess, how many say yes.  Ask the worst managers you have worked with and see how many times they say no.

Just curious.

  1. That’s pretty interesting. I know chess can build your mind in strategic ways but never really thought about how it might build future goals.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. tom robinson says:

    A wonderful piece of reasoning. Chess players learn to see traps being built in front of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. None Other Then Hannah says:

    hum, cool post, and I will have to try this next time I run into someone who is…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Azul Zaffre says:

    I’m not a chess player, and have never been in a management position…and it never occurred to me to ask my bosses if they played chess. You come up with the most interesting thoughts, Mike.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. tracihalpin says:

    Very interesting theory. My dad taught me chess at a young age, and we played all the time. I do plan and think about my next move and look for what can happen. My dad was a manager and he was a fair, yet effective manager. Everyone said he was a good boss, but he didn’t let things slide. He was a captain in the nyc sanitation dept. And he only missed 1 dat of work in his career.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. tracihalpin says:

    I just realized my dad is also an expert with his financial stuff and the stock market. He’s always checking and planning every day. Some of that is my money (in the future) lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. One part of chess, that is easily ignored by the beginner, is experience with loss.

    My lady is one of those who has been elevated to a high managerial position. Listening to her and watching the way she thinks, I would say that her experience has perfected her responses. She has a vast volume of failures to pull on so that she could avoid what is obviously coming down the road.

    The world calls it multitasking. Put the pegs on the walls of her mind are full of useful tools.

    By the way, that’s what makes a student in his thirties I’m much more avid learner than the teenagers in his class.

    I thought provoking article. God bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • midimike says:

      I have overlooked that very important component. You are so right. Failure is the greatest teacher of all time! If you are not prepared and willing to fail it is difficult to see the next move or to create a process that enables us to actually benefit from that loss. If you can’t pick yourself back up and get in the game, why should others follow your example. amazing insight and I thought that was very helpful. You should become the teacher and present to others. You are clearly wiser! Thank you so much!


  8. I don’t know the answer for my past managers and supervisors, but I would guess to say (for the reasons you state) the good ones, if they hadn’t played chess, would be able to become decent players if they started practicing. Conversely, the bad ones would never become good at playing the game.

    A kind of tangent on this would be learning to deal with close-ended and open-ended problems. Close-ended problems are those that have a single solution that can be discovered, or at least a clear “best” choice in regards to the solution. What is the quickest way to fix a machine in a factory? An open-ended solution is that there is no particularly “right” answer, in some cases simply because each solution generates a new set of problems, along with a mix of “costs” associated with implementing the solution. Moreover, and probably most importantly, in many of the scenarios, one would be without all the necessary information to make an “informed” choice or decision. For instance, when moves that first pawn to start the new game.

    Liked by 1 person

    • midimike says:

      Good point. Not sure if chess players learn skills because of the game or if players are naturals at understanding those concepts from the start. Ha! The ones that don’t ‘get it’ probably never will! You have a great understanding of the topic. There are sometimes many right answers among a million bad ones. Tunnel vision can prevent some from seeing the other options, let alone the repercussions as you noted. Excellent comment. I like your thinking. You will be able to see when you do not have all the information to make decisions, but can base your ‘answer’ knowing that. Most people have no clue at all that there are hidden facts to be considered. Well done! Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

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