Business Ethics:

Monopoly: Perfect Game or

Game of Perfection?

by Trish Overby

Do you remember playing the game of Monopoly? Do you remember the feelings you had when playing the game? How you wanted to acquire more and more "high rent" properties to make the other players give you their money in payment of rents? Competing in a game like this shows us not only the hows and whys of business but gives us the feeling that we can make it to the top. We want to become the perfect player and the richest one. We feel we can achieve more than our parents, siblings and friends could ever achieve.

Goal of Business

The goal of this game or any business is to make it to the top. The goal in business is to make as much money as we can. This usually means attempting to outdo our competition. In order to be ahead of our competition, we have to offer a service or product that is better and different from our competitors'. We must offer a product that suits the needs of our customers perfectly.

The recent agreement between British Airways(BA) and American Airlines(AA) for greater international flight coverage is a good example. Both airlines have good flight networks, AA in Americas and BA in Europe. Both want to increase the air coverage in a limited air space availability. The aim of merging on flights where they both have the expertise, is to offer customers the best service of all international airlines. They want to be the best.

Perfect Product

But perfection of a product or service is only created by competition. If you look at most advertising these days, we find that products are "improved" or "new". We study our competitors' product or service and attempt wholeheartedly to beat them on quality, price or availability. We will try to improve, change or add ingredients or parts to a product or service to give our customers exactly what they are looking for or need. This impetus is the spirit of competing. Whatever our competition is doing, we can do better!

So to win in the game of monopoly is to win all the paper money from our fellow players. This means being the best player. To win in business is to have the perfect service or product for your customers and eliminate as much as possible the competition. But this seems to be a contradiction in needing our competition to produce the perfect product and yet trying to reduce the competitor's ability to compete.

Business is Not a Game

The business world is not a game but is made up of relationships between people (customers and competitors). In order to achieve the ultimate goal in business sometimes we forget these important relationships. Instead we concentrate on creating the perfect product or service to get us to the top. If you asked a millionaire if he was satisfied at the top, his response would simply be either, "I have to make another million" or "It is lonely being at the top." So either the spirit of competing continues in his life or he is overcome with the loneliness of achievement. The choice is the millionaire's to make, as it is our choice. We all can choose the life and business we would like to have. Just remember life isn't a contest but it is a challenge for us all.

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