Design is an infinite game.

Are you still playing to win?

Design is an infinite game

In game theory there are two types of games. Finite games are those in which participants obey rules, recognise boundaries and announce winners and losers. The infinite game has changing rules, flexible boundaries, organic interactions and exist solely for the purpose of continuing the game.

Design is an infinite game.

How often have we looked at design as a means to the end. We meet user goals. We meet business goals. And then we call it a day. However when we look at existing design processes, this does not seem to be the case.

Square boxes and linear processes

John Fire Lame Deer observed that the modern man is a prisoner of self created boundaries. And while our material possessions may be squares, all our processes are linear. The much hated (and loved) waterfall process of software development is linear. Although Agile is supposed to be iterative, where ever I have worked, I found the implementation to be linear. And most definitely, Design Thinking is Linear.

Almost all popular processes are linear:

The Stanford D School process is linear. And uses hexagons much to Natasha’s ire.

This one is linear with lines that jump back and forth.

And even though this is drawn as a circle, the process in reality is linear.

What we need is a process that promotes readiness for an infinite game. Just like in life we strive for human flourishing, in design we should strive for Design flourishing.

I’m in the process of developing an alternate design process that aims to overcome the drawbacks of the current one. If you wish to know more do get in touch.



  • Design Thinking is Dead. – Navneet Nair Designs

    August 7, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    […] Secondly design is not something that has an end goal. It is a constant state of evolution. The current processes may not be geared for the infinite game. […]

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