Nicolaj AmmannNicolaj Ammann Poker – Change Management’s Fruit Fly

08/12/2008 by Nicolaj Ammann

As many others amongst my friends, I am addicted to poker. When I say poker, I am referring to the omnipresent Texas Hold´em Poker, and not to one of the Draw Poker versions that to my opinion rank among the games of pure chance.

In my 2 years poker career, I have gone through the following phases:

Phase

Description Remarks
Beginner So much busy with the framework of rules that nothing seems predictable Players are the others rather than myself
Knowing the rules Having read a couple of How-to’s I understand the basic principle I am an active player. Amazingly often, I end up being the winner, otherwise my defeat is often dramatic
Experienced player Discovered formerly hidden mechanisms and „soft factors”, trying to apply them Occasional success in „reading” my opponent, avoiding dramatic losses
Undefeatable Well equipped with all „tools” Some extraordinary successes, but still avoidable errors
Wise Am I really using all available tools? In order to be successful in the long run, new findings must permanently be brought to the game

Each new finding made me feel better prepared to cope with my opponents. But I also understood that any new finding could turn my basic idea of the game inside out. It must be tried out and prove applicable before it gets part of my knowledge repertoire.

Change Management 1)
The short life cycle of a poker game is a perfect experimental ground for understanding the mechanisms of change management. But whereas it takes an IT change manager a few weeks or months to more or less successfully complete a project, including observing the effects of the changes to the entire environment – and thus learning from it, the cycle in a poker game takes no longer than a couple of minutes.
As the fruit fly 2) with its short generation cycle for the geneticists, poker with its short game cycles can be the ideal research subject for change manager.

Realizations

  • Patience; success can not be enforced. Acquiring change management competence is a process in several phases.
  • You might fail even if all conditions are optimal (AA).
  • As a beginner, playing seems to be easy-going. Your playing style is unusual (to others), courageous, imponderable and aggressive. Unfortunately, only in poker games this is a promising player attribute.
  • Planning to win in poker can be compared to a tree. Your starting point are the roots, from there you follow the branches, one after another. Only few players are aware of this. In most cases, as soon as they see a problem coming up, they first cut off the branches instead of going back to the roots. 3)
  • What is most decisive for a player to play a successful game is neither a good knowledge of mathematics, the ability to analyze the opponent, a good starting selection of cards in his hands nor a profound playing strategy. It is self-control. 3)
  • If you want to become a successful, lucky player, first work on your self-control. And I mean – every day! Nothing is comparably important. 3)

However, there is a relevant difference between poker and change management. In a poker game, you can do everything right and still lose the game.

In poker, you know your own cards and you know your opponents from the start. The latter are quite obviously determined to win, just like you. In change management, cards and opponents have to be agreed upon first.

Sources
1) beteo Blog: Change Management Posts
2) Wikipedia: Dropsophila melanogaster
3) Steve Badger: Poker Discipline

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