Go (Baduk, Weiqi) and Business Thinking - Similarities


Go (baduk, weiqi) is an ancient board game that has many similarities to running a company. Improving at Go can help you improve your business thinking. How are they connected? Check the comparison: "Go (baduk, weiqi) vs Business Thinking".

But before we start - Did you know that baduk (바둑) is the Korean name for the game of Go and weiqi (围棋) is its name in Chinese?

If you aren't familiar with the game of Go yet, read first the article Go Game - the Most Basic Information.

Let's come back to our comparison of Go (baduk, weiqi) and Business Thinking:

Weiqi is a game of solving problems.
Isn't business a game of solving problems either?

Solving other people's problems is the main reason of having a business. Thus, the owner (or CEO) needs to be able to solve problems.
An Indian billionaire Dilip Shanghvi says: "If you want to be really successful in business, first find a problem to solve".

Weiqi is a game through which you will learn to solve problems. This way you will prepare yourself for solving problems in real life.


Baduk is a game of building territory.
Business is a game of building profits.

None of the privately-held companies can survive on a long-term basis without gaining profits.

The winner of a baduk game is a player who builds bigger territories than the opponent.


Weiqi is a strategical and logical game.
Strategy and logic are crucial for founding and maintaining a well working business.

You need to make good strategical decisions to keep and develop your business well.
Cai Dongqing, a Chinese billionaire, explains: "I think for a company, the most important thing is you must set the right strategic direction, which leads a company to go this way or that way. It will enable a company to achieve further progress or suffer a setback. A wrong decision in this point will pose a major challenge for the company.".

You need to make good strategical decisions to head your stones in a direction that lets you create more points in a game of weiqi.

And no matter what strategy is chosen, it needs to be logical to work well, in both - business and weiqi.


The world changes all the time. It's necessary to adjust to the new situations.

Frank Hasenfratz, a billionaire from Hungary, declares: "Every day, you’ve got to change. If you don’t change, you die.".

The situation in a baduk game changes after every move. Each next move needs to be adapted to the new situation, so that it fits well with the other stones on the board.


Speed of making decisions matters a lot.

A Polish billionaire, Michal Solowow, tells: "Speed in business is in my view one of the critical parameters.".

Playing weiqi games with clocks will help you develop the skill of making good decisions under time pressure.


*The above quotes of billionaires are from Rafael Badziag's book "The Billion Dollar Secret".


Examples of strategies used in business and in Go (baduk, weiqi)

1st example: Blue Ocean Strategy

If your business competitors started to sell the same products that you try to sell and your expected profits aren’t that high anymore - it might be interesting to simply change your products.

If you created a group of stones that gave you some influence in one part of the baduk board, but your opponent started to play later in that area - you can still change your initial plan and use your group for something else, e.g. you can use that group to get a territory in a different part of the board.

This kind of strategy can be called a "Blue Ocean Strategy" - same as a title of the book written by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne.


2nd example: Strategy of taking over weak companies/groups

If you see that your competitors' companies aren't too stable - you can try to fight with them. But instead - you can also try to take them over. This way you will not need to spend any money for marketing to acquire their customers. And if they have some technology that you don't have - you can even get their technology this way (instead of investing money in a research).

If you see that your opponent has very weak groups in a game of weiqi - you can also try to take over these groups without direct cutting and fighting, but while playing a little bit further. This way you might get points not only for the group, but even for the extra territory which you surround around that group by the way.


3rd example: Think about the possible future development

It's great if your company works well now. But it's even better if there is a space for development, so that the company could work even better in the future.

In baduk it's good to think about the possible continuations and extensions of your stones even before playing a move. Even though you might not get too many points on the start - while having a possibility of a nice development - you might be able to get much more points in the future.


4th example: Coherence

Let's say you decided to start a new optimization process in your company. And you wouldn't tell half of your team about their new procedures. Then, instead of making things better, the new process would most likely create chaos and damage.

Let's say you decided to use your weiqi stones for creating influence in one part of the board. Your opponent didn't play in that area. And then you decided to play a few moves to surround a small territory next to your stones instead of using that influence to attack a weak opponent's group. From this kind of incoherence you would probably waste your initial moves, which could have been played in a way to take immediate territory instead of influence.


Why is it good to study business through the game of Go (baduk, weiqi)?

For many people reading books might be simply boring. Studying through a game is the more interesting way to study. While playing you are more engaged. Thus, you learn faster.

To understand it better - let’s have a look at the Edgar Dale’s "Cone of Learning".


On the diagram above we can see that the more engaged we are while learning the more we tend to remember.

Playing baduk is something what you DO and at the baduk lessons the teacher asks you about your ideas in particular situations, so that you will also need to SAY about your thinking process in those situations. This way more parts of your brain will be activated while studying, so you will be able to learn more efficiently.


If you've been studying business thinking through weiqi, it will not be a problem to find analogy in the following terms:

  1. Territory - Cash/Profits
  2. Strength or influence - Investment
  3. A group of stones - A company/business
  4. To kill a group - To take over a company/business
  5. Move - Work, which is measured in single units.
  6. Shape - Campaign
  7. Bad shape - Campaign with low profitability

So, are you ready to start learning how to play Go?


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