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Game Theory in Project Management
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Game Theory in Project Management: What have been your experiences when dealing with this adage and how have you manage it in your projects?

An individual’s success in making choices depends on the choices of others (i.e., Nash Equilibrium, Prisoner’s Dilemma)
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Game theory concepts can be applied to almost any discipline where at least some degree of strategy is needed. Read on to find out how elements of game theory can be used in project management, especially during negotiation and decision-making processes.

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Game theory concepts can be applied to almost any discipline where at least some degree of strategy is needed.
Game theory attempts to predict an individual's success in decision-making, depending on the choices of others.
If you are a player in a game, when choosing your course of action, you must take into account the choices of others. However, when thinking about their choices, you must recognize that they are thinking about yours, too. As such, when you are coming up with a strategy for decision-making you must take into account your thinking, the thinking of others and, in turn, try to take into account your thinking about the other players' thinking, and so on.

Here are some things that project managers need to think about in any negotiation process:
•What is the issue you are trying to solve?
•Who are the players?
•Which players will have an impact on the success of your decision?

To use game theory for project management, draw a list of players keeping the above questions in mind for each player then answer the following questions:

Are there any time issues? Who is in a hurry and who can afford to delay?
Will players make decisions independently or wait for other players make decisions?

What players can make a commitment to help you and the project? Prioritize these players.

Have you got an angle to negotiate? Mutual gain is possible if players have different preferences, priorities or capacities. Where mutual gain is likely, a negotiated outcome is possible.

What are the players’ goals? Put yourself in each player’s shoes and assume their goals and actions will be rational from their point of view, even though you may not agree.

It is helpful to put these questions and players in a simple table to clearly show different choices, or tree diagrams that follow steps of an interaction. By looking at the possible outcomes and working backward, project managers can choose the strategy most likely to give the best results.

Using game theory in the above manner helps you understand how people act and interact – an essential skill needed to successfully manage projects.
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2 replies by George Lewis and SUNNY HELWANDE
Aug 10, 2016 7:50 AM
George Lewis
...
Sameh - great input, well said...

This topic is very interesting to me and I enjoy it when I see comments as these.
Apr 30, 2017 3:58 AM
SUNNY HELWANDE
...
Nicely explained.
It gives me an idea of what actually game theory means.
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to use Game theory effectively in for project management , it will require to have upto date information.
If there are may stackholders, it will be very complex and difficult to determine dominating strategies
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The key factor – Identify and know your stakeholders well. Bring them to common agreed solution that will be to everyone’s advantage.
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Aug 10, 2016 3:57 AM
Replying to Sameh Nasr
...
Game theory concepts can be applied to almost any discipline where at least some degree of strategy is needed.
Game theory attempts to predict an individual's success in decision-making, depending on the choices of others.
If you are a player in a game, when choosing your course of action, you must take into account the choices of others. However, when thinking about their choices, you must recognize that they are thinking about yours, too. As such, when you are coming up with a strategy for decision-making you must take into account your thinking, the thinking of others and, in turn, try to take into account your thinking about the other players' thinking, and so on.

Here are some things that project managers need to think about in any negotiation process:
•What is the issue you are trying to solve?
•Who are the players?
•Which players will have an impact on the success of your decision?

To use game theory for project management, draw a list of players keeping the above questions in mind for each player then answer the following questions:

Are there any time issues? Who is in a hurry and who can afford to delay?
Will players make decisions independently or wait for other players make decisions?

What players can make a commitment to help you and the project? Prioritize these players.

Have you got an angle to negotiate? Mutual gain is possible if players have different preferences, priorities or capacities. Where mutual gain is likely, a negotiated outcome is possible.

What are the players’ goals? Put yourself in each player’s shoes and assume their goals and actions will be rational from their point of view, even though you may not agree.

It is helpful to put these questions and players in a simple table to clearly show different choices, or tree diagrams that follow steps of an interaction. By looking at the possible outcomes and working backward, project managers can choose the strategy most likely to give the best results.

Using game theory in the above manner helps you understand how people act and interact – an essential skill needed to successfully manage projects.
Sameh - great input, well said...

This topic is very interesting to me and I enjoy it when I see comments as these.
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This is the very reason there are brain storming sessions to understand the view points of stake holders
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Stakeholder engagement is getting more and more important to successful project management.
It is not very clear for me how to apply game theory in project management in uncertain contexts.
Stakeholder position very frequently change during project implementation making work even more difficult.
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Game Theory is an interesting approach to stakeholder management. I haven't personally seen it being used, i'd be interested in learning more about experiences with it.
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Aug 10, 2016 3:57 AM
Replying to Sameh Nasr
...
Game theory concepts can be applied to almost any discipline where at least some degree of strategy is needed.
Game theory attempts to predict an individual's success in decision-making, depending on the choices of others.
If you are a player in a game, when choosing your course of action, you must take into account the choices of others. However, when thinking about their choices, you must recognize that they are thinking about yours, too. As such, when you are coming up with a strategy for decision-making you must take into account your thinking, the thinking of others and, in turn, try to take into account your thinking about the other players' thinking, and so on.

Here are some things that project managers need to think about in any negotiation process:
•What is the issue you are trying to solve?
•Who are the players?
•Which players will have an impact on the success of your decision?

To use game theory for project management, draw a list of players keeping the above questions in mind for each player then answer the following questions:

Are there any time issues? Who is in a hurry and who can afford to delay?
Will players make decisions independently or wait for other players make decisions?

What players can make a commitment to help you and the project? Prioritize these players.

Have you got an angle to negotiate? Mutual gain is possible if players have different preferences, priorities or capacities. Where mutual gain is likely, a negotiated outcome is possible.

What are the players’ goals? Put yourself in each player’s shoes and assume their goals and actions will be rational from their point of view, even though you may not agree.

It is helpful to put these questions and players in a simple table to clearly show different choices, or tree diagrams that follow steps of an interaction. By looking at the possible outcomes and working backward, project managers can choose the strategy most likely to give the best results.

Using game theory in the above manner helps you understand how people act and interact – an essential skill needed to successfully manage projects.
Nicely explained.
It gives me an idea of what actually game theory means.

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