Is there anyone who hasn’t played solitaire? It seems as if it’s available on every PC and Mac addicts can grab it in Game Center. I have it on my phone as well as on a Nook, and I’ve come to the realization that it’s a pretty good business tool. Let me explain why.

English: A GNOME version of Klondike (solitaire).

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s the obvious – it gets your brain cranking.  I find, however, that there are some other skills that are required to finish many hands.  The first is patience.  It’s rare that you get through the game the first time you leaf through the deck.  In fact, I’ll often use that first pass as a form of research that helps me figure out the strategy for the rest of the game.   Doing that research before settling on a strategy is another often overlooked business skill.

I’ve found that the key to solving the puzzle (and I’m playing the most common version of the game called “Klondike“) is to get the down (covered) cards turned up as quickly as possible.  In business terms this is removing the unknowns so you can get a clear look at the situation.  I’ll usually keep attacking the biggest stack of covered cards just as in business we should focus on the areas where we know the least.

Since a finished pile – the stacks beginning with the Ace  – is an objective, there is a real temptation to add cards from the board to the Ace stack.  I only do that when I know I still have a place to put a lower card that still remains.  In business we sometimes make that mistake – we try to finish a task without thinking about the rest of the dependencies.

Sometimes you hit a wall.  All the cards are red and you’re only turning up additional red cards or you get to where you must turn over a specific card to keep going.  That’s when the creative thinking kicks in – how can I move something that’s already there to free up a slot?  Keeping the same suits (Hearts, Clubs, etc.) in the same lines can be helpful.  This often means delaying the play of a card into an obvious opening with an eye on something other than top-line data – the card’s number.  Yes, that may be a nuance but using all the information I have – number and suit – helps with the long-term solution, sometimes at short-term expense.  Sounds like a smart business practice, doesn’t it?

You probably have a solitaire game on whatever device you’re reading this.  Spend 5 minutes and try looking at the game in a different way.  After all, that’s how we need to approach business too, right?

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Filed under Helpful Hints, Thinking Aloud

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