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Game Theory and Thinking Strategically


About This Course

Game Theory de-mystified.

Wayne Gretsky's famously once said that you need to skate to where the puck is going, not to where it is. Game Theory is about thinking ahead strategically - but it is much more than that. We can actually change the decision calculus of our rivals, incentivizing them to do what is in our best interest. For example, the third of the three main tenets of Game Theory (after Commitment and Credible Threats), "Order Matters," can be used to take most, if not all, of the bad outcomes for us off the table. We can affect what choices our competitors have available to them by our initial actions. This can be incredibly powerful when applied - with foresight - to your business.

In this course, we stress intuition first. Game Theory gives us very specific practical lessons and processes to use in your business. We will use the knowledge gained from the academic research (I have published well over a dozen peer reviewed academic papers on this) to provide you with a mindset, a skillset and a toolset to apply to your business (I have worked numerous Game Theory strategy sessions in practice with companies throughout the globe). This course walks you through the intuition and processes you will need to use it for effect in your business.

As such, the program follows a process developed through best-of-practice academic research, consulting practice and business strategy – as detailed in Compete Smarter, Not Harder: A Process for Developing the Right Priorities Through Strategic Thinking (Wiley, 2014) and in The Carrot and the Stick: Leveraging Strategic Control for Growth (University of Toronto Press, 2020).

Business today transcends “business as usual” versus the “new normal,” “live” versus “remote” and “yesterday” versus “tomorrow.” Finding deep-seated, often latent, needs of high priority segments and matching this to unique competencies in areas of strategic control in the industry’s value chain is at the core of business, full stop. Always has, always will. The fundamental approach of the processes that stand the test of time is where one should begin to make sense out of times of volatility. As such, we apply rigorous, state-of-the-art processes to understanding how we can uniquely deliver the deep seated needs of our most desirable customers.

Course Staff

Dr. William ("Bill") Putsis

Dr. Putsis is Professor of Marketing, Economics and Business Strategy at the Kenan‐Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and also teaches on Executive Programs at the Yale School of Management and at Duke CE. Prior to his current position, he was Professor and Department Area Chair at the London Business School (1997‐2003), Associate Professor at the Yale School of Management, Yale University (1990‐1997) and Assistant Professor, Cornell University (1988‐1990). He has his MS and PhD in Economics from Cornell University. He is also President and CEO of Chestnut Hill Associates, a strategic consulting firm that he founded in 1995 and partner in CADEO Economics, a management consulting firm specializing in using applied game theory to manage and preempt competition. He is also a partner in a number of startups, learn more at: or

He has published two books. The first, Compete Smarter, Not Harder: A Process for Developing the Right Priorities Through Strategic Thinking (Wiley, 2014), presents a detailed process, well tested in industry for over 25 years, that focuses on growth through prioritization. Companies using this process successfully in practice are as diverse and varied as The Boeing Company, Owens Corning and Underwriter’s Laboratory. Editors at Amazon named it as a best book in business and leadership. His most recent book, The Carrot and the Stick: Leveraging Strategic Control for Growth (University of Toronto Press, 2020), focuses on the two keys to strategy in today’s business interconnected ecosystems: “Strategic Control” and “Vertical Incentive Alignment.”

He has worked with companies throughout the world, including China, India and Europe as well as the United States. His recent consulting client list includes Underwriter’s Laboratory, the Boeing Company, BASF, SAS, Heinz, John Deere, Baker Hughes International, Owens Corning, Eastman Chemical, Globe Union, AgReliant Genetics, Atkore International, World Kitchen International, Ingersoll Rand, DHL Worldwide, Morgan Stanley, Amcor, BBC World Service, Barclays Bank, CITIC Bank, and Founder Group (方正集团).

He has also taught successful Executive and Full‐Time MBA courses at top-­‐ranked universities in the United States, Europe and China (Yale, Cornell, Columbia, London Business School, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Tsinghua University), winning awards for his executive teaching numerous times. His list of clients for executive non‐degree programs include Owens Corning, the Boeing Company, Barclays Bank, Verizon, Royal Bank of Scotland, SAS, ABN AMRO, BASF, Amcor, John Deere, British Airways and Baker Hughes International.

His research and academic pursuits focus on the empirical application of game theoretic models of competition, competitive strategy, the marketing of private label products, new product diffusion and product line strategy. He has over 30 scholarly articles published in journals such as the Journal of Marketing Research, Marketing Science, Journal of Business, Journal of Business Research, Managerial and Decision Economics, Marketing Letters, Applied Economics, Journal of Forecasting and the Review of Industrial Organization.

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  4. Estimated Effort

    2.5 hours (for entire course done at your own pace)