Game of Thrones is full of business strategy – if you know where to look

3 May 2016 by in Business and finance, Entertainment, Game of Thrones on Business

As our winter draws (reluctantly) to a close we plunge once more into a world where winter is coming, and brings with it sex, intrigue, swordfights, skulduggery and dragons. Unless (or possibly even if) you’ve been living on a wi-fi free desert island for the last five years you will realise we are talking about Game of Thrones, season 6 of which reached our screens this month. The programme makers have been teasing us for several months with what we do and don’t know; what may or may not have happened (yes, we’re talking Jon Snow here). One trailer had Bran declaring that ‘they have no idea what is going to happen’, something that over the years has proven true time and again. We knew the programme was fabulous entertainment right from the start of Season 1 but what we didn’t realise until Ned Stark lost his head was that in this series anything can happen. Bad things will happen to good people, heroes will die, villains will prosper and at no point will we feel this world is safe.

Game of Thrones is possibly the most widely discussed programme on television. With only ten episodes per season it is on our screens for little more than two months out of every year, yet the internet is alive year round with articles on the characters, photographic memes and speculation regarding what’s going to happen next. Why has this programme so inspired us? It has to be in the quality of the storytelling. Compelling characters, a mysterious universe that not even the characters who live in it understand (people thought dragons had died out years ago and nobody believed the white walkers were anything but a myth) and events that frequently extend beyond the protagonists’ control have us perpetually on the edge of our seat. Now, what if we could get people this excited about business?

Business is the dynamic force that shapes our economies and our lives. It’s crucial to the survival of western society as we know it. Business is about progress, wealth creation and opportunity. It should be exciting – fun, even – yet it is frequently discussed and taught in dry and theoretical tomes or through the clumsy medium of presentations reliant on screens of charts and bullet lists. You might not remember every single intricate detail of what happened in the last five seasons of Game of Thrones but we bet you could easily give a rundown of the key highlights. But how much of the last business seminar you attended can you remember? How much of it did you go home and relate to your family or discuss with your friends? How many memes did it generate?

Game of Thrones season 6

So by bringing the worlds of business and Game of Thrones together we hoped that we could imbue business theory with some of the excitement we feel when we watch the series. Once you take away the dragons and swordfights you start to see more similarities than differences. This strange medieval fantasy kingdom may not look a lot like our world but a lot of its essential ingredients – ambition, deceit, bravery, folly, triumph, disaster – feature in many a news story in the business press. Here are just a few key places where Game of Thrones and business touch.

Nice guys finish last: In the Game of Thrones universe it is not sufficient to be morally right like Ned Stark and his family; one must also be a clever – and lucky – player of the game. The same can be said for business: in this high-stakes world success is not granted simply to those with the best ideas, those who entered the market first or even those who put in the most work. Business, like Game of Thrones, is full of surprises and those who make it to the top do so by not only staying one step ahead of the game but learning to control it rather than having the game play them. Lose focus even momentarily and you lose your advantage. This does not mean you have to be an unprincipled swine to get ahead: the dastardly Petyr Baelish is the exemplary game-player but Daenerys too has demonstrated strategic skill while maintaining a strong moral code.

It’s not what you know but who you know: In Game of Thrones that also includes what you know about them, and how you use it. In business it usually means networking rather than blackmail (though of course that’s not unheard of either). Cersei, Lord Varys and Petyr Baelish all operate networks of people to bring them intelligence on other game players and help them leverage their strategic advantage. So vast is Varys’ network in fact that he is nicknamed the Spider. We all know we need to network more but often only think of it when we need something (a recommendation, a job). But networking is a daily business – Ned Stark left it too late to try to cultivate relationships, staying holed up in Winterfell after the war, and look how well that turned out for him.

You know nothing: Well all right, not nothing, but you rarely have all the information and skills you need to succeed entirely solo. Which is why you need to develop a great team around you. Daenerys has many queenly attributes but she could not have got where she is now without Jorah’s strategic advice, Daario’s muscle, Missandei’s cultural knowledge, or her dragons. A weak spot left unguarded provides an advantage for a rival. Which is why truly successful individuals know themselves well enough to pinpoint their weaknesses and take steps to do something about it.

You win or you die: If you want to succeed you have to be prepared to fail too. But that need not mean taking foolish risks, plunging into the unknown and hoping for the best. Instead you need to follow Baelish’s example and learn how to take calculated risks. Petyr Baelish has been the invisible hand, influencing events, even orchestrating the death of John Arryn, which began the war of the five kings. But at no point has he got those hands truly dirty. He’s always kept at a safe remove from the action – we know he was behind Joffrey’s murder but nobody in the world of the programme could connect him to it. His options are still open and he can pull away from a plan at any time. If you are patient and take incremental, small risks you stand a much better chance of achieving your goals than if, like Renly, Robb or Viserys you insist on going in all guns blazing.

Once you start seeing similarities between Game of Thrones and business it is hard to stop. Next time you have to give a business seminar why not throw in a few examples – it’s almost certain to get you more notice than yet another pie chart, spreadsheet or bullet list.

Game of Thrones on Business by Tim Phillips and Rebecca Clare is available to buy. To be in with a chance to win a free copy, tweet us your top business tip from the show to @Infinite_Ideas


Game of thrones on business is an excellent stocking filler

22 December 2015 by in Business and finance, Game of Thrones on Business

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock these past few months, there have been speculations running wild about the new series of Game of Thrones and, um, well…yeah, turns out that Jon Snow might still be alive. I mean, we certainly didn’t ever think this, we know nothing after all. We definitely didn’t believe it when we saw Kit’s luscious locks at Wimbledon, nor were we swayed when we saw pictures of him on the set. No, sir. If you tell us he’s dead, George Martin, then we believe you.

Game of Throes season 6And then HBO released the new poster for season six. Well, we were perhaps taken unawares. Not for a second did we ever believe the conspiracy fan theories that suggested Jon would come back and then we are thrown a curve ball.

So it turns out we really do know nothing about season 6. And as 2015 draws to a close, we’re thrilled that it will only bring us closer to what is promising to be an almighty instalment in the Game of Thrones series. If, however, you are struggling to come to terms with this shocking news, and are wondering what to get Steve from HR for Secret Santa, perhaps you should look no further than our very own Game of Thrones on Business by Tim Phillips and Rebecca Clare, shortlisted for the CMI Management Book of the Year, it provides excellent tips on how to use tactics and strategies from the show in the workplace. Did we mention that it fits in a stocking as well? We’re pretty sure that there is just enough time to order a copy for your colleague, loved one, Grandma, neighbour and mortal enemy.


Game of Thrones on Business shortlisted for CMI Management Book of the Year

27 October 2015 by in Book publishing, Business and finance, Game of Thrones on Business

Management-Gold_NewInfinite Ideas is thrilled to announce that Game of Thrones on Business by Tim Phillips and Rebecca Clare has been shortlisted in the ‘commuter read’ category for the CMI Management Book of the Year. This award selects the very best in management writing to promote the Management Gold gold standard for books.

We’re thrilled to be on a list among such great writers and publishers. Our inclusion reflects the continuing success of our mission to publish high quality books on business, management and leadership and promote the idea that management writing is essential to good business practice.

Game of Thrones on Business aims to combine popular culture with management lessons. It’s a great book to dip into on the bus or the train on the way to work and offers excellent advice in bitesize chapters. Jon Snow may know nothing but we can guarantee that after reading our book, you will be clued up on how to approach business situations from another angle and tackle problems head on.


Game of Thrones leads Emmy nominations

20 July 2015 by in Business and finance, Current events, Entertainment, Game of Thrones on Business

On Thursday the 2015 Emmy nomination were announced and Game of Thrones leads the field. Though it’s disheartening to see that Kit Harrington and his lovely hair did not get a nomination, Peter Dinklage, Lena Heady and Emilia Clarke will all be hoping to take home a shiny golden trophy.

When one looks at the nominations on a broader scale, the actors who are up for the big prizes are no longer people who found fame in TV. Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kevin Spacey and Liev Schreiber are all up for acting gongs, and all are big, well-established names in the world of film. What is turning them to TV all of a sudden? When you look at the current situation of the cinema box office, it is filled with sequels, prequels and reboots. It would seem that in the two hours or so that the director has to establish a relationship with the audience, they go for what works rather than something new and innovative.

We love TV now. It’s the viewing equivalent of sitting down with War and Peace or Moby Dick, investing a long time in a fantasy world, building relationships with characters and becoming seriously affected by their outcome (farewell Jon Snow). Televisions series allow for character and plot development in a way that film cannot provide. So, since audiences want familiarity, we have an extremely long film series with characters that we know and love time and time again. Don’t get me wrong, I love a superhero movie as much as any 15 year old boy does, but it doesn’t provide me with as much satisfaction as a ten part Game of Thrones series.

Game of Thrones Emmy

Producers and actors are now wise to the shift to television that audiences are making. With the creation of HBO and Sky and of course, bigger tellys, we are now closer than ever to having the movies in our very own home. It is a radical shift to the Hollywood business model and producers are finally waking up to what the audience wants. How can Hollywood compete with Netflix, a fast streaming service that gives the viewer autonomy (or so they think) to watch whatever they want , whenever and at a reasonable price?

It is unlikely that the Emmys will ever rival the Oscars for prestige and glamour, but it is clear the heavyweight actors, once nominated and winning at the Kodak Theatre are now finding themselves on the other side of the fence. Could giants such as Netflix and Amazon Prime actually reinvent the business model of Hollywood that has remained steadfast for over 100 years? Perhaps it’s too soon to tell, but with countless Emmy nominations to its name, Netflix is all set to ‘break the wheel’, much like our favourite queen, Daenerys Targaryen.

We love business and we love popular culture, what better way to celebrate the Emmy nominations and the build up to the awards by reading Game of Thrones on Business. Netflix, take note!


The winners and losers of the Game of Thrones Finale

16 June 2015 by in Business and finance, Entertainment, Game of Thrones on Business


You may remember that a while ago we asked what Jon Snow knew about office politics. As Tim Philips and Rebecca Clare suggest in Game of Thrones on Business, it does not always pay to be a clever little twat. Yes, Jon was a great leader and showed much promise as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. He has an excellent knowledge of tactics and strategy that he was taught as a child from his father Ned. However, not everyone enjoys the young know-it-all usurping their power. Last night Jon learnt the hard way that burning your bridges and leading without getting your subordinates on board can lead to mutiny. Now I’m not suggesting that in a business context you will be stabbed to death and left to die in the snow (Snow!) but be wary of how you rise up the ranks, those you pass on the way may seek to bring you down any chance you get. We in the Infinite Ideas office, however, are not planning any sort of mutiny.

Jon Snow seaon 5 finale

So Jon Snow was a loser in last night’s finale. I have heard many fan theories about how not all may be lost but I’m not going to get my hopes up. I do have 42 weeks to grieve until the next series will be aired but I’m not really sure if I want to go through all that again. Why does George Martin hate the Starks? Ned we sort-of understood and Robb hurt a lot but nothing is comparing to how we feel about Jon.

Another loser in last night’s finale was Cersei. She may have escaped with her life but her dignity has certainly been sacrificed. She may find it difficult to come back to her old ways after having paraded through the streets to the tune of ‘shame’. We’re not massively fond of Cersei but we do think that her punishment was a little severe. Perhaps death would have been kinder to her? Cersei needs to be in control, she likes being at the top of the food chain and has been pulling the strings of her puppet kings for a long time now. Next season will prove very interesting for Cersei, with Myrcella now dead, her power is slipping.

Let’s be honest, the finale was never going to end well for Stannis. When you put your trust in a red witch who tells you that burning your daughter at the stake is a good idea, things are rarely going to come up roses. Arguably, Stannis had little option but to charge on Winterfell, but his poor battle strategy and depleted army meant that there was little other option for him but to fail. Yes, we would have loved to see Ramsay impaled on a very long lance, but it wasn’t to be. However, I think that after episode nine, I preferred Ramsay anyway (never thought I would say that!).

Nevertheless, not all of the finale was filled with grief and sorrow. Our first winner is Samwell. What a lad. Sam has been very lucky this season, and indeed in the whole show, having killed a White Walker Sam was almost killed by his Night’s Watch colleagues but survived thanks to Gilly’s intuition. So now he’s managed to negotiate a nice little homestead for his girlfriend and baby and escaped Castle Black before all hell broke loose. I would love to think that if Sam was there Jon would have survived, but most likely Sam would have been killed too.

We’re thrilled to say that Jorah was definitely a winner this series though, shockingly, I would have rather seen him die a noble death last night than lovely Jon. Jorah ended season 4 on a bit of a low point having been exiled from Meereen and all hope for a happy future seemed lost. Now I’m not saying that season 5 has been an easy ride for him, we still need to know how he is going to fare having been touched by the stone men but he is now back in favour with Daenerys and in the small council with Daario and Tyrion. Yes, perhaps he should have been less clingy, but without his intuition Daenerys might not have made it to the finale.

There are some lingering questions like, where is Gendry? Is he still floating in the sea? Did he drown or did he wash up on an island somewhere and is now enjoying a carefree life away from House rivalries? Where is Bran? Yes, his storyline is incredibly dull but I miss Hodor and also, isn’t Bran supposed to play a big part in the battle to come? Is Jaqen H’ghar good or bad? Poor Arya really had a tough time of it, but I’m sure she’s strong enough to overcome her blindness. Did Sansa survive? I’m sure she did but I cannot forgive Reek/Theon, it’s a case of too little too late.

If you can’t wait until season 6 airs, perhaps you should take some career tips from the Seven Kingdoms and try and progress up that corporate ladder.


Daenerys takes flight (season 5, episode 9)

9 June 2015 by in Business and finance, Entertainment, Game of Thrones on Business


Usually with episode nine, Game of Thrones likes to throw us a curve-ball, think Red Wedding or Ned’s death. However, given the mastery of last week’s episode, the writers were hard-pressed to come up with something as shocking and exciting as the final twenty minutes north of the wall.

I would say that the first half of last night’s episode was just terrible. Not in a badly-made kind of way but in a what-the-hell-are-you-doing-Stannis kind of way. Can someone please tell me why his daughter had to burn to death? The Red Witch certainly has a lot to answer for and she proved last night that she is more influential and dangerous than Stannis hopes to be. I would say that after last night’s performance we learnt that Stannis is now the least attractive man in the show and that Sansa should look on the bright side, I doubt that Ramsay has plans to burn her at the stake any time soon. Stannis’ actions, aside from being wholly abhorrent and disgusting, show him to be a leader that is easily influenced by his subordinates, who cannot think tactically or effectively and does not take advice easily. Melisandre is too powerful, she is the real driving force behind Stannis’ army and the North is in danger of being ruled by her, a woman with no legitimate claim to the Iron Throne and poor Shireen will have died for Melisandre’s sport.

We also learnt last night that it is now snowing a lot in the North, either that or Jon needs a good wash with some Head and Shoulders. Though Jon and the Wildlings managed to make it to Castle Black, not even Sam’s optimism was enough to make Jon crack a smile or forget that the worst is still to come. We may not have seen any White Walkers last night but their presence was not forgotten. Jon needs help and quickly. They are coming.

Daenerys Drogon

So where will the help come from, you ask? After the highly upsetting first half of the episode, the second half was much more enjoyable. I’m sure that Arya will get some use out of Needle before the series is ended, after heading to Braavos she seems to have had very little to do in the way of blood lust and she hasn’t been able to cross any more names off her list. However, it wasn’t Arya’s oysters that got us all excited. Over in Meereen, it wasn’t just wonderful Jorah who proved himself worthy in the fighting pit.

After almost five series of showing her potential, Daenerys finally proved that she is worthy of taking back the Iron Throne. After a nail-biting fight in the pit, we think (and desperately hope) that Jorah is now not only accepted back into the Queen’s council, but heading out of the Friend Zone. We knew that he would win, his time is not yet up. However, after a spectacular hijack by the Sons of the Harpy it looks like it is time for Daenerys to finally leave Meereen. Now, I haven’t read the books so I am unfamiliar with the backstories of many of the characters, as well as missing out on key details, nevertheless, when Daenerys mounted Drogon for the first time and flew out of the arena, I was aware that this was a game-changing moment in the series. She finally took flight, both physically and metaphorically. If the look on Tyrion’s face was anything to go by, this is the woman to follow, this is the true heir to the Iron Throne. Now, while Drogon was great fighting off all those Harpies, he is really needed back over in Westeros, at the Wall. We’re not sure quite yet what part the Dragons have to play in the story, nor how or even when all the characters will meet, but it seems critical that Daenerys and Jon finally team up. For what can undo ice if not fire?

So we have one episode to go before we have to wait another year for season 6. We have come further than the books and now all the fans are in unexplored territory. Our key predictions for episode 10: Cersei’s time is up, she has lived at the top too long and made too many enemies to come back from her current predicament. I don’t see her getting out of it unscathed. Where is Bran? Will he finally make an appearance and contribute something to Jon’s fight? I’d like to see more of Brienne and Pod, what part will they play in the clash between Stannis and House Bolton. Honestly, I really don’t know who I would rather win that fight, they’re both pretty bad people. There are too many good/bad wars going on, but we’re sure that the finale will be as gripping as ever. We would like Jon, Daenerys and Jorah to stay alive please and thank you!