The similarities associated with the decision-making process, analytical model, and strategic planning in chess and business are undeniable. Specifically, our decision-making process defines who we are and what we are able to accomplish. Thoroughly identifying, objectively evaluating, and continually improving our approach and execution of our individual decision-making process are essential requisites of success. Working hard and being smart is no longer enough to experience great success in the current global economy. It is absolutely paramount to frequently and persistently reexamine the way we make decisions. This is why using business for chess
Garry Kasparov says in his book “How Life Imitates Chess” (2007)
“It’s not enough to be talented. It’s not enough to work hard and to study late into the night. You must also become intimately aware of the methods you use to reach your decisions.”
While there are plenty of articles out there citing the overall benefits of playing chess for retaining a sharp business mind, this article will be specifically about using the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis that is so commonly used in the business world to help our analytical chess thinking skills. While chess is mainly a tactical game, using the SWOT analysis will help you with the analytical side of the game.
A brief explanation of the SWOT analysis
The SWOT analysis model is extremely well-known in the business world, and for good reason. SWOT is extremely simple and to the point – identify your strengths and weaknesses with respect to opportunities and threats), objectively evaluate your analysis, and make the best decision. However, this is easier said than done. You can very easily fall into a simple routine and fail to capitalize on the most promising opportunities. By continually reevaluating your process of making decisions, you will put yourself in a position to achieve the most efficient and effective results.
As Confucius says:
By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.
How to apply the S.W.O.T. Analysis Model to Improve your Chess
How to apply the SWOT Analysis Model to improve your chess game is relatively simple. Start with the noblest method by which we learn wisdom, reflect on your strengths and weaknesses as a chess player.
Analyze Your Strengths and Weaknesses by Phases
The easiest way to do this is by making a well-known division of your game into 3 phases – the Opening, Middlegame, and Endgame. If you’re achieving terrible positions in the opening – why would you spend time studying endgames first? A logical progression of study would seem to generate better overall results. This process is not meant to disregard the other phases of the game, more to say that a well-thought, balanced plan of development as a chess player is the most efficient and effective method.
For example, once you have identified your strengths in the Opening phase you will be able to more efficiently study the resulting middle and endgame positions. This provides a well-rounded strategy for short-term and long-term development as a chess player. Identify what you are good at (and enjoy) and capitalize on this strength (opportunity). On the flip side, identifying honestly your weaknesses will enable you to improve them or avoid similar positions altogether. Bettering your decision-making process and developing a balanced strategy for improvement (as a chess player) is only made possible through genuinely honest and objective reflection and evaluation. As you gain more information throughout this process, it is essential to adapt your decisions to the changing information that they should be based on.
Always Check and Balance Your Opportunities and Threats
Beginner chess players have a tendency to jump at a quick opportunity to win an extra pawn or dive into a trap or gambit without seeing the true outcome. In business the SWOT analysis isn’t only about seeing your opportunities and threats but comparing them against each other. Chess is very useful in training a business mind in this aspect because a beginner entrepreneur may also jump into a potential opportunity without properly balancing out the risks and threats. A true chess master will always carefully analyze both opportunities and threats, and combine it with his known strengths and weaknesses to result in the best analytical decision.
“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” – Stephen Hawking
By Will Stewart (USCF 2256, FIDE 2234)