Thursday, March 13, 2008

Game theory

At work, I'm taking this negotiation skills workshop that involves all sorts of little role-playing exercises. One involved a variation on game theory -- two teams are at war with each other, you both have 100 missiles, and can either try to annihilate each other or work something out.

My first instinct was total and complete annihilation. I think that's always my starting point.

My team was more open-minded. The majority decided that we should start destroying our own missiles as a sign of goodwill. In the back of my mind, the entire time, I was convinced that the other side was just lulling us into complacency. The prisoner's dilemma, yadda yadda yadda.

I was wrong. Surprisingly, my coworkers -- all lawyers -- are honorable people, people of their word, and both sides managed to negotiate a solution where there was no loss of life, and an almost complete destruction of both arsenals. Win-win.

I keep coming back to the same thought, though: If I had been allowed to follow my instincts, I would have caused World War III. Clearly this means that I need to work on some trust issues. For the greater good.

1 comment:

Kel said...

Total annihilation would have been my first instinct, too.

Honestly, I scoffed at "destroying our own missiles as a sign of goodwill" until I realized, too, that it actually worked out peacefully. Guess I'm not as much of a peacemaker as I'd like to think.