Comptel, Chess and Data Analytics in Italy

Posted: June 26th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Behind the Scenes | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

This is a special guest post from Comptel Sales Manager Cristina Monacelli.

On June 13, Comptel hosted an event in Rome at the Finnish ambassador’s residence to introduce our solutions to the Italian telecommunications market. We really wanted to engage with the country’s communications service providers (CSPs) and this gathering gave us that opportunity.

CEO Juhani Hintikka shared the strategy behind Comptel’s slogan, ‘Making Data Beautiful,’ and illustrated the power of automating decision-making to drive business opportunities and build stronger customer relationships.

Luca Desiata, our keynote speaker of the evening, delivered a thought-provoking and powerful presentation on “Chess and Corporate Strategy.” He used the metaphor of chess as a guideline for a course of corporate strategy, leadership, decision-making and problem-solving.

In the latter part of the evening, the guests experienced exquisite Finnish delicacies, including fennel-salmon with horseradish and Rhubarb pie, as found in some of the country’s best traditional restaurants. And, of course, everyone enjoyed the taste of the fine Italian wines.

The Chess Game Behind Corporate Strategy

Desiata’s keynote speech began by outlining the game of chess itself – a game with deep historical roots and enduring cross-cultural fascination, and how it was influenced by strategic thinking, elegance, analytical skills, intuition and talent.

Chess has been used throughout history for a number of parallels but, strangely enough, never before for corporate strategy. It has contributed to the progress of information technology and artificial intelligence, and has been used to test war strategies and psychological theories, but businesses have been largely left out of the equation.

Since Desiata is a corporate strategy expert with a passion for this game, he decided to change that. His speech highlighted the powerful ideas in his new his book, which is appropriately titled  Chess and Corporate Strategy, and what business leaders can learn from this age-old game, including:

1. Advanced Strategic Thinking

Decades ago, experiments were conducted with some of the greatest chess champions. A team of psychologists asked the players to verbally explain the process of strategy elaboration behind a move, and discovered categories of thinking that are surprisingly similar to the ways of business strategy.

Some of the most poignant parallels were around decision-making biases and pitfalls in the process of strategy elaboration. Just like chess masters, executives have to reconsider all of the options on the table again and again, and make sure their decisions aren’t being weighed by pre-existing beliefs.

2. Negotiations

A game of chess is all about careful negotiations. Players trade pieces and spaces and hope they’re getting the better part of the deal.

Negotiations tournaments can mimic this process by dividing people into pairs to negotiate on a business case. These negotiations are repeated by changing pairs until, after a certain number of runs, the winner of the “tournament” emerges. The tournament dynamics highlight the transactional, prize-forming process, which in the last rounds tend to converge towards an equilibrium value determined by different elements such as technique, motivation and preparation.

3. Approach to Risk and Uncertainty Management

Risk-return matrices – like losing a Queen to take out a well-positioned Rook on the chessboard – are constantly applied to the financial and industrial portfolios. Desiata explained that the risk attitude of a chess player for choosing a variation is similar to the risk attitude of an investor. This establishes a quantitative parallel between chess and finance.

Chess and Corporate Strategy” by Luca Desiata has been offered at MIP – Politechnique of Milan Business School and at Bocconi University’s Executive MBA. Customized executive courses have been given for managers of major Italian companies.


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