Friday, February 6, 2009

Corporate Life Lessons from Chess

Last year, i got introduced to Chess at my Son's School. The Chess Sir (Mr. Sahu) was explaining the children the basic moves of chess, and my child (aged 5) was able to pick up all the concepts.

I was impressed by the simplicity of chess principles and striking correlation of chess with Corporate Life Principles. Couple of things i have learnt and ingrained from Chess are.

Couple of Chess concepts before we start
1. Material : In chess each Piece has a Notional Value to it. The Sum total of all the Pieces with a Player is called his Material (Or Resources) (Pawn =1, Knight/Bishop = 3, Rook = 5, Queen = 9)
2. Development : You must develop pieces early, Castle Early as a best practice.
3. Structure : The pieces must not block each other. Pieces should support each other. You should not have Bad-Pieces i.e. Immovable Pieces in and after the Middle Game.

Chess Principle : Time, Development & Space are very Important Aspects of a Strong Player.

Corporate Life : You need to focus on all the Aspects of your personality.


Chess Principle : You need to develop your Limited Resources (Material) fast.

Corporate Life : This is a Competitive World, we must move faster than the others to stay ahead.


Chess Principle : Focus on overall structural development, than on Gaining Easy Material.

Corporate Life : This is a mistake which many freshers make. They focus on easy gains and get engaged with High Paying Jobs. The focus should be on developing a Career.


Chess Principle : Don't take Free Pieces without thinking. Opponent might be setting a Trap for you.

Corporate Life : Never underestimate any situation. Don't fall for Free-Lunch. There is no Free Lunch in Real Life, every Free Lunch has Strings and Fine Print Attached.

Chess Principle : Don't Underestimate the Strengths of Pawns. Any of the Pawn can become Queen. Almost always with a good Strategy, you turn a Pawn to Queen.
Corporate Life: Importance of Mentoring. The Lowest ranked employees can rise to the Topmost positions, we should imbibe a culture of constant Mentoring. Never underestimate the potential of any person, Right grooming will definitely show results.

Chess Principle : Plan and be mentally ready for Loss of the Queen. You can win the Game even after losing the Queen.
Corporate Life : Always keep planning for attrition in Real Life and Corporate environment. Ensure you have sufficient Structure in place to handle all contingencies of Life. Even if the Top Performing Player in the Team leaves, the others can still complete the Ongoing Assignment.

Chess Principle : Its not the Knowledge of Moves that matters, it is how you use them that matters.
Corporate Life : It is not the Operational and Tactical Expertise we should keep focusing on. Strategy is equally important. In today's world. Every competitor knows what you know in terms of "Operations" and "Tactics". They have similar people who had been to Similar Business and Specialization schools as your employees. Their knowledge about a product is equal to yours. It is the Strategy which will help to win in the Long Run.

Chess Principle : Every Piece moves differently. Different Pieces provide cover to each other, align to each others line of Attack and Defense to setup an effective overall structure.
Corporate Life : Accept people as they are for their Skills. Understand each persons strengths in a Team, and leverage on each others strength to form a stronger Alliance. A Team leader must understand that all people will not behave in similar fashion for a given situation, also they will have unique strengths. A Successful team leader will be able to place the right people at right place to get the Work done effectively.

Chess Principle : Good Positions (Skewer, Fork, Pin, Mate) don't happen automatically, you must constantly Plan to achieve a good Positional Advantage.
Corporate Life : Life does not serve you Opportunities on a Plate. You must constantly strive to create a good position for yourself. You have to fight it out.

Chess Principle : One Queen cannot win the Game. All the pieces must work together to win.
Corporate Life : In today's world more than ever.. It is Collaboration that helps you to succeed. Invest in people skills and help other people succeed along with you.

My Son Aman (Age 6) plays regularly at the District Level Chess Tournaments, and has won many a Prize. He has been teaching me some of the Life principles mentioned above.

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