Game Theory and How To Deal With Incompetence In Your Business

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Early in my career as a game theory-based business consultant and executive coach I was introduced to a concept known as the Peter Principle.


What he means here is that employees are promoted based on their success in previous jobs until they reach a level at which they are no longer competent, as skills in one job do not necessarily translate to another.

Peter and his co-authors intended the book to be satire, in time it became that Peter was really onto something serious.

Imagine an organization where a person reaches their level of incompetence and then trains new people in his/her department. Over time this pattern of incompetence spreads like a virus throughout the organization infecting middle management, lower-level employees, and possibly the executive suite. Of course, executives are focusing on the wrong area, the entire hierarchy may collapse below them, and they never saw it coming.

So as I said the Peter Principle states that a person who is competent at their job will earn promotion to a position that requires different skills. If the promoted person lacks the skills required for the new role, they will be incompetent at the new level, and will not be promoted again, unless their superior, is also incompetent, then they may be promoted again, and again.

This outcome is inevitable, given enough time and enough positions in the hierarchy to which competent employees may be promoted. The “Peter Principle” is therefore expressed as: “In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his or her level of incompetence.” This leads to Peter’s Corollary: “In time, every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out its duties.”

Examples of the Peter Principle in action would include Sears, Enron, and the 2009 world financial collapse.

Final Thought

In a world of analytics, it is easy to measure for incompetence. Unfortunately, maybe the people who have designed these analytics are themselves incompetent. Over time the best companies will adjust and grow, while the ones who ignore this issue will simply collapse.

Author: Lewis Harrison is an Independent Scholar, corporate consultant, and executive coach. He has a passion for knowledge, personal development, self-improvement, applied game theory, entrepreneurism, and problem-solving.

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Gamificiation in Video Games and Business

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Gamification in Video Games and Business

Using strategic thinking and incentives to win the game of life.


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Ask Lewis About Game Theory

What is this Q & A series about? There are some things within strategic thinking and gamer psychology you really do…

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I offer advice on the arts, innovation, self-improvement, life lessons, mental health, game theory strategies, and love.

What Does Gamification Mean?

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What Does Gamification Mean?

A cutting-edge approach to applying strategic thinking and incentives to win the game of life.


The term “Gamification” is said to have been coined in 2003 by Nick Pelling, a British computer programmer, and inventor.

Explained on the most basic level, Gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game environments. The term non-game environment is often used to describe any human to human, or human to computer interactions that would not befit the definition of a recreational puzzle, a board or video game, or sports.

Non-game environments usually include education, business, shopping in a supermarket, and dating.

Why is Gamification so Important in the 21st Century?

When used skillfully, and effectively, gamification techniques can leverage people’s natural desires for socializing, learning, mastery, competition, achievement, status, self-expression, altruism, or closure. It may even influence their response to the framing of a situation as a game or play. Early gamification strategies use rewards for players who accomplished desired tasks or competition to engage players. Back then, types of rewards included points, achievement badges or levels, the filling of a progress bar, or providing the user with virtual currency. Making the rewards for accomplishing tasks visible to other players, or providing leader boards are ways of encouraging players to compete or in the best of environments, to collaborate.

One of the things that separate gamification as well as HAGT (Harrison’s Applied Game Theory from classical game theory is that while classical game theory, which is a foundation of much in modern economic theory focuses on rational and logical patterns of thought and behavior, gamification and HAGT tends to be more holistic. When I say Holistic I mean they create a space for strategizing and creating incentives based on intuition, counter-intuitive, and non-linear elements.

Within gamification models, one is likely to encounter game design elements known as Meaningful Stories. Meaningful Stories do not relate to the player’s performance as they might in a game-based model.

In gamification, teammates, whether they are other real players or virtual non-player characters, can induce conflict, competition, or cooperation. The latter can be fostered particularly by introducing teams, i.e., by creating defined groups of players that work together towards a shared objective.

Though those who developed the idea generally state that it is not directly tied to game theory, many of the concepts used in gamification are clearly modeled on ideas central to game theory. Essentially gamification is a set of activities and processes to solve problems by using or applying the characteristics of game elements. These elements may include metrics and algorithms.

Over the last few decades, there has been an increased interest in gamification in business.


It is increasingly more difficult to attain business success without gamification. What seems reasonable will be useless to you in rapidly changing markets. A more profound way of thinking is required to succeed here. Gamification can meet the needs of many employees, that need more than a paycheck and a two-week vacation.

Author: Lewis Harrison is a practical philosopher, best-selling author, and successful businessman.


“I am the former host of a talk radio show on an NPR affiliated station in NY. I have a bottomless passion for the application of game theory in decision-making, problem-solving, and personal development. My game theory/business website is

“I am always exploring trends, areas of interest, and solutions to build new stories upon. Again, if you have any ideas you would like me to write about just email me at”.

Here is a 15-minute video interview I did explaining the very basics of HAGT (Harrison’s Applied Game Theory). Learn more about game theory at


I offer advice on the arts, innovation, self-improvement, life lessons, mental health, game theory strategies, and love.

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I offer advice on the arts, innovation, self-improvement, life lessons, mental health, game theory strategies, and love.

See all of Lewis Harrison’s stories (there are hundreds) at

Here you can learn about personal development, self-improvement, life hacking, business, and the spiritual life.

I invite you to read, my regular blogs on game theory, and lifehacking and follow my posts and vlogs throughout the social network:


Part of human potential, personal improvement, and human potential is learning and using applied game theory. You can Become a Master of Applied Game Theory and Reduce Unnecessary Struggle in Your Life and Business through our Course 


Harrison’s Applied Game Theory A-Z and Beyond 


If you have an interest in becoming more efficient, effective, precise, and productive, explore our Master Classes, courses, and personalized/customized coaching program –  “Applied Game Theory A-Z and Beyond 2.2.”.

Learn more about the course by clicking on the 

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A-Z and Beyond 2.2…



5 Things You Always Wanted To Know About “A Victim Mentality and Game Theory” But Were Afraid To Ask…


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This is a 7 min read

What is this Q & A series about?

There are some things within strategic thinking and gamer psychology you really do need to know about but you weren’t aware of.

Once you do think about it, either there is nothing about it that you can read on Wikipedia, or so much complicated and jargony information that you can’t even begin to explore the subject.




#1 Q. What does it mean for an individual to have a victim mentality?

A. Victim mentality is an acquired personality trait in which a person tends to recognize or consider themselves as a victim of the negative actions of others, and to behave as if this were the case in the face of contrary evidence of such circumstances. Victim mentality depends on clear thought processes and attribution. In some cases, those with a victim mentality have in fact been the victim of wrongdoing by others or have otherwise suffered misfortune through no fault of their own. However, such misfortune does not necessarily imply that one will respond by developing a pervasive and universal victim mentality where one frequently or constantly perceives oneself to be a victim.

Victim mentality is primarily developed, for example, from family members and situations during childhood. Similarly, criminals often engage in victim thinking, believing themselves to be moral and engaging in crime only as a reaction to an immoral world and furthermore feeling that authorities are unfairly singling them out for persecution.

#2 Q. Are there specific skill sets that can be used to distinguish those with victim thinking versus those or are actual victims such as a government or corporate whistleblower?

A. Transactional Analysis (TA) an integrative counseling theory based on game theory that has elements of psychoanalysis, humanist theory, and cognitive psychology. Approaches, first developed by Canadian-born US psychiatrist Eric

Berne, starting in the late 1950s. TA distinguishes real victims from those who adopt the role in bad faith, ignoring their own capacities to improve their situation.

#3 Q. It would seem that if a person truly sees themselves as a victim that this pattern would become integrated into their very being as a “reality”?

A. This is true. I speak of this in conversations within my writings on Applied Game Theory) especially concerning Regenerating Thought Processes and sense and cellular memory.

What happens is that the pattern of seeing oneself as a victim in most or all unpleasant situations is intensified once a pattern of victimization has been internalized, This is what occurs when a person finds his or herself in a double bind — some emotionally distressing dilemma in communication, in which an individual (or group) receives two or more conflicting messages, in which one message negates the other. This creates a situation in which a response to one message appears as an ineffective or failed response to the other (and vice versa). In such a situation the person will automatically be wrong or ineffective regardless of response. Double binds appear when a person is unable to confront an inherent dilemma and thus is unable to resolve it or create an exit strategy.

#4 Q. Is there a way of exploring or studying these patterns?

A. There is a theory that explores Object relations. Here one explores the way possession by a false self can create a permanent sense of victimization- a sense of always being in the hands of an external fate. When addressing victim mentality in problem-solving scenarios there are a number of approaches that can also be explored. These include:

· Spiral of silence: Here one opinion in a group of individuals becomes dominant as those who perceive their opinion to be in the minority remain silent because they fear that they may be isolated or attacked by the group because of their opinion. Spiral of science is also known as political and mass communication theory, an idea propounded by the German political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann

· Somebody Else’s Problem: (also known as Someone Else’s Problem or SEP) is a mental/emotional action where individuals/groups of individuals choose to dissociate themselves from an issue that may be in critical need of recognition. A common metaphor for this behavior is the “Ostrich putting its head in the sand.”

#5 Q. How can one break this type of pattern?

A. It requires that one take responsibility for one’s own desires and long-term actions. This is not easy to do for a person with a long pattern of victim thinking. Since HAGT is focused on personal development one must approach this issue from this perspective. If the pattern is locked in through what is called “emotional baggage” then various approaches can be used. Among these is Inner Child work. Emotional release Bodywork, Homeopathy, and Energy Medicine, Guided Journal Writing such as has been developed by Ira Progoff and various forms of “Ruthless Introspection”.


Change your attitude, Surrender your fear, and you can have a life of abundance and happiness.

If you have an interest in how and why I do what I do you may want to check out Harrison’s Applied Game Theory (HAGT).

HAGT is an umbrella term for thousands of systematic strategies that describe why and how individuals and organizations make decisions. This process involves more than just making wise choices. It is concerned with the effective organization of data and facts, predictive analytics, collaborative intelligence, self-love, serving others as well as ourselves and many other related ideas.


Author: Lewis Harrison is an Independent Scholar with a passion for knowledge, personal development, self-improvement, and problem-solving. He is the creator of Harrison’s Applied Game Theory.

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I was the kid in your school that the teacher implored to “focus more”. Instead, when I was sent to the back of the room for asking too many questions, I kept myself busy by memorizing all of the Encyclopedias on the back wall.


You can read all of his Medium stories at

“I am always exploring trends, areas of interest, and solutions to build new stories upon. Again, if you have any ideas you would like me to write about just email me at”.

Lewis offers a customized and personalized Course to help you become Become more effective, efficient, productive, and self-aware. Study

Study Harrison’s Applied Game Theory A-Z and Beyond…2.2.

Read the information about the course below.

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I offer advice on the arts, innovation, self-improvement, life lessons, mental health, game theory strategies, and love.


Author: Lewis Harrison is a student of Zen and Taoist thought and is the Senior Teacher in the Wisdom Path Community, a social media group exploring the spiritual path in all its forms. He is a regular practitioner of meditation, contemplation, and ruthless self-assessment.

His website is and he can be emailed directly at

Learn more about his Master Strategist Course at


The Great Grounding Game Theory Guide: — The 23 Best Movies for Strategy Thinkers

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(6 min read)

What Is Game Theory?

Game theory is the name used to describe logical and rational concepts (systems) that explain why and how individuals and organizations strategize — make choices and decisions when one or more individuals might also affect the outcome of the decision being made.

Game theory skills can be used to solve simple and very complex problems. Watching game theory-oriented films can give you the tips, tools, techniques, strategies, tactics, and hacks for winning at the game of life. If you have seen the movies The Big Short, Money Ball, and or A Beautiful Mind, you have seen game theory in action.

Here are these three and other films in a similar genre to help you to move forward in your life.


• A Beautiful Mind — A biographical film of the life of Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr. inspired by the book by Sylvia Nasar. Nash’s work and ideas are central to much of game theory. The film was acclaimed and won the best picture at the Academy Awards. It does take liberties with the facts of Nash’s life. It is the film that piqued my interest in game theory and game thinking

• Lincoln Lawyer — This is an American legal thriller film adapted from the novel of the same name by Michael Connelly,

• In the Name of the Father — Set in the “Troubles” in the North of Ireland, it illustrates the Prisoner’s Dilemma*.

• Rebel Without a Cause — Presents the “Chicken Game.*

• Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb — One of the best films representing The Hawk-Dove Game*. The director of the film, Stanley Kubrick, read an article by Noble Prize-winning Game Theorist Thomas Schelling that included a description of the Peter George novel Red Alert, and conversations between Kubrick, Schelling, and George eventually led to the 1964 movie. The film is one of the best cinematic illustrations of various concepts in Game Theory.

• Reservoir Dogs — One of the best films illustrating a Truel* meaning a duel or competition among three opponents, in which players can fire on or attempt to eliminate one another while surviving themselves.

• The Warriors — A film illustrating The Stag Hunt Game*.

• Waking Ned (Also known as Waking Ned Devine) — One of the best movies showing The Ultimatum Game*.

• Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan — Explores the Kobayashi Maru (a Lose-Lose Game*) used among Star Trek fans to describe a no-win scenario, a test of one’s character or a solution that involves redefining the problem and managing an impossible situation gracefully. This is one of the best films illustrating a Lose-Lose Game*.

• Donnie Darko — A bit more complicated than other films, this one integrates elements of a specific type of lose-lose situation called a Catch 22*. It also includes aspects of Quantum Game Theory*.

• Sophie’s Choice — This is a problematic situation, known as a Cornelian Dilemma* (CD), essentially a lose-lose game. This is a situation in which the player is forced to choose between two courses of action. Each is mutually exclusive and will cause a negative consequence on the player or someone close.

• The Dark Knight — One of the best films illustrating plot devices using classic game theory. The game-based plot devices included are the prisoner’s dilemma, the cornelian dilemma, and The Pirate Game*. The Pirate Game is a more sophisticated version of the Ultimatum Game*.

• The Usual Suspects — This entire film is a simple game structure piled high with layers of deceit, twists, cheating, cognitive biases if every variety, and violence before pulling out the rug from underneath when we learn that the payoff* wasn’t what we expected — A zero-sum, simultaneous, imperfect information game.

 Eye in the Sky: This 2015 military game theory thriller explores mixed strategies, decision-making, and the ethical challenges of drone warfare. A multinational team, works on the capture mission against terrorists in Nairobi. The group, which are linked together by video and voice systems, debate different strategies designed to achieve a goal while reducing collateral damage. As a decision finally realized some variable in the game space changes requiring new discussion on the best course of action and who needs to make the final decision on acting against the terrorists, knowing that no matter what, there will be some collateral damage.

• House of Games — A heistthriller film built around many different elements of game theory. It features mid games, gambling, and con men. One of the treats is that its cast includes Ricky Jay, one of the world’s greatest magicians.

•The Spanish Prisoner — This neo-noir suspense film. The film is premised around a story of corporate espionage conducted through an elaborate confidence game. In spite of the film’s title, the actual plot includes only superficial similarities to the Spanish Prisoner* scam though there is, nonetheless much gamer-thinking.

• The Game — An American mystery thriller about a wealthy investment banker who is given a mysterious gift-the chance to participate in a complex Life Game. As the lines between the banker’s real life and the game become more uncertain it all takes on a surreal quality.

• The Last Casino— Loosely based on the activities of the MIT Blackjack Team. Three students and a professor use a counting cards* technique to “beat” a Casino in Canada.

• The Imitation game –A somewhat inaccurate American historical drama based on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges (which was previously adapted as the stage play and BBC drama Breaking the Code). It explores the real-life British cryptanalyst Alan Turing, a gay man who was destroyed by the government he may have helped save.

To be specific, Turing de-crypted German intelligence codes for the British government during the Second World War and is considered by many to be the “father” of the modern computer.

• Crazy Rich Asians — In this game-theorybased comedy, an Asian-American economics professor must use game theory

to outwit, wealthy, adversarial zero-sum players to outwit outdated Chinese tradition, hierarchy, n competitiveness, to find romance, love, and happiness.

• Molly’s Game — Based on the real-life experiences of Molly Bloom, a former world-class skier who ran the most exclusive, high-end poker game in the world for over a decade. It is one of the purest applied game theory films ever made. Every flawed move here has significant consequences. The right to life plot includes; A-listers, Hollywood Stars, the Russian Mafia, the Jersey Mob, the IRS, the FBI, and that’s just for starters.

• Searching for Sugar Man — This 2012 documentary film of a South African cultural phenomenon. It details the efforts of two Cape Town fans in the late 1990s to find out whether the rumored death of American musician Sixto Rodriguez was true, and if not, to discover what had become of him. Rodriguez’s music, which had virtually no success in the United States, was more popular in South Africa than Elvis. Yet, little was known about him in that country.

• The Boxer — The plot is built around the ending of the troubles in Northern Ireland. It explores the dynamics of a win-lose game player who has chosen to become a win-win player. The challenge is that he must now contend with those still committed to a win-lose scenario, and violently so.


Author: Lewis Harrison is an Independent Scholar and a Results-Oriented Success Coach. He has a passion for knowledge, personal development, self-improvement, and problem-solving. He is the creator of Harrison’s Applied Game Theory.

You can read all of Lewis’s  Medium stories at

“I am always exploring trends, areas of interest, and solutions to build new stories upon. Again, if you have any ideas you would like me to write about just email me at” or check out my courses and website at

“Lewis is amazing. I recommend him to anyone who wants less stress and more energy.” — Jack Canfield, Co-author, The Chicken Soup for the Soul books and films.

3 Profound and Essential Rules For Effective Self-Evaluation



How to Become a Master Strategist and Fulfill  Your Potential through Self-awareness. ( 3 min read)


Self-evaluation is the process by which our sense of self is explored, and when needed, modified. The desire for self-improvement is a strong motivation to self-evaluate and is central to personal development, self-improvement, and self-awareness.

Self-improvement motivations influence the ways in which we select self-relevant information, gauge its importance, draw inferences about ourselves, and make plans for the future.

Experientially-oriented researchers have identified and investigated 3 cardinal self-evaluation motives (or self-motives) relevant to the development, maintenance, and modification of our beliefs concerning ourselves. These are:




Let’s explore each.

  • Self-Enhancement: With this motivation, there is a desire to improve the positivity of one’s sense of self, and to protect the self from negative influences. This motive influences people to engage in self-evaluation.

For instance, people process information important to the self in a selective manner, focusing on information that has favorable implications to the self and discarding information with unfavorable implications. People also choose to compare themselves socially to others so as to have greater status and to be placed in a favorable position. By doing this, people seek to boost the (self-evaluated) positivity of themselves or to decrease its negativity. This enables them to increase their levels of self-esteem with the aim of having others see them as more socially desirable.

  • Self-Assessment: The Self-assessment motive is based on the assumption that people want to have an accurate and objective evaluation of themselves. To achieve this goal, they work so as to reduce any uncertainty about their abilities or personality traits. Feedback is sought to increase the accuracy and objectivity of previously formed self-conceptions. This is regardless of whether the new information confirms or challenges the previously existing self-conceptions.

Self-assessment is one of the motives that drive self-evaluation, along with self-verification and self-enhancement. Many personal growth experts believe that a self-assessment motive will prompt people to seek information to confirm their uncertain self-concept rather than their certain self-concept. At the same time, people can use self-assessment to enhance the certainty of their own self-knowledge.

Still one must always keep in mind that the self-assessment motive could be seen as quite different from other self-evaluation motives. Unlike other motives, through self-assessment people are interested in the accuracy of their current self-view, rather than improving their self-view. This makes self-assessment a self-evaluative motive, and one of the few motives that may cause a person’s self-esteem to be damaged.

  • Self-Verification: Here the motive asserts that what motivates people to engage in the self-evaluation process is the desire to verify their pre-existing self-conceptions, maintaining consistency between their previously formed self-conceptions and any new information that could be important to the self (feedback). By doing this, people get a sense of control and predictability in the social world.



Research has shown self-assessment to be an extremely important tool for self-improvement and personal development. There are, of course, a wide variety of techniques and mechanisms through which learners describe (i.e., assess) and possibly evaluate the qualities of their own learning and growth processes).

One thing is clear — without some form of self-evaluation, there is no moving forward in life.

Author: Lewis Harrison is a student of Zen and Taoist thought and is the Senior Teacher in the Wisdom Path Community, a social media group exploring the spiritual path in all its forms. He is a regular practitioner of meditation, contemplation, and ruthless self-assessment.

His website is and he can be emailed directly at

Learn more about his Master Strategist Course at