An interview with attorney Ty Beard

Ty Beard is a practicing attorney with a very different approach to deal-making, negotiations and the practice of business law. He’s a former history teacher and a military history buff, and came to war gaming as a youth in the 1970s. In this discussion he shares his insight and perspective on how war gaming as a hobby has shaped his strategic approach to business and how the simple techniques he learned as a youth have created significant advantage for his clients. It’s a different perspective on war gaming – one that is very interesting for those pursuing business war games, – and one I think you will find useful.

In this 25-minute conversation you will find:

A brief history of the hobby of War Gaming
The term “war game” obviously has roots in military activity, but did you know that the gaming aspect originated (at least in part) with H.G. Wells? In the first part of this conversation Beard, a former history teacher and military history buff, talks about how war gaming moved from the general’s tent to a middle class game room in the middle part of the twentieth century.

Games of strategy (or the Knight, the pawn and the casino)
Chess, poker, or Go, anyone? Although those games are often thought of in the same context as war gaming, Beard explains they are very different:

  • Chess is a game of 100% intelligence – all the locations and options of your opponent are known, as is what will happen with any given move
  • Poker has much less intelligence than chess but few if any uncertain possibilities or contingency options
  • War gaming has both unknown actions and unknown consequences. This forces assessment of likely possibilities and contingencies

The mind of the player and walking around the board (8 min)
At about 8 minutes the conversation moves to the necessity of understanding the opponent(s)’s mindset and perspective, and what this means in terms of your actions. In practice it is uncommon to find anyone who does this, despite the fact the techniques can be taught, the requirements are not strenuous, and the results can be major. Beard discusses what may lie at the root of this phenomenon.

Applying the war game mind-set to small business (14 min)
At about 14 minutes the conversation moves to the specifics of applying the war gaming mindset to everyday small business issues:

  • What are the critical requirements for success?
  • How do you communicate both up and down the organization?
  • What’s the deadliest mistake?