Blackjack may be one of the oldest games in the world. It has been popular since its inception as the Americanization of French card game Vingt-et-Un and English game Pontoon in the late 1800s. Arguably, the American version has superseded the other formats of the card game family. But given how much change we have faced in society since the 19th Century, how has blackjack managed to keep adapting? And what could this teach businesses hoping to last?
One of the most important lessons in business is to be adaptive and reactive to changes in society. Kodak taught us the perils of being rigid in strategy, while Apple has shown how responding to tech changes and society’s evolution results in success. Blackjack has endured because it has remained adaptive to the ways in which players may want to engage.
For example, the rise of live blackjack games – where the player can see the dealer in front of them on screen – shows that the classic card game can be improved through digital means. The live games retain the essence of blackjack but have changed the format in which players are expected to engage. For businesses, this shows that it’s important to remain flexible to the changing habits of your customer base while maintaining the core of your business.
Keep It Simple
Blackjack’s enduring success since the 19th Century – and the reason it is most favored over similar card games – is down to the simplicity of the game. While poker has also remained popular, the strategic thinking and rules necessary may deter some newer players. Blackjack is simple to grasp and requires less analytical work from players.
This lesson could be useful for businesses. It’s important to keep things simple. An elevator pitch of a business should tell customers exactly what a brand is, what its aim is, and how it will improve their lives. For example, Peloton has a simple brand message. It is an exercise bike that also encompasses a way of life and a key to achieving a healthier lifestyle. This selling point has remained simple and most people know of the brand and its values from its name alone. Indeed, the company has achieved $1 billion in one quarter thanks to the dissemination of this simple message.
Take a Risk
The final lesson that blackjack can provide for businesses is that sometimes it’s appropriate to take a risk. Nothing in business is guaranteed. Posting an innocuous tweet could end up with the brand in hot water or dropping a product that may seem like a sure-fire hit could result in a fall in sales. No matter how confident we feel, there could always be a chance that our strategies backfire.
This is where blackjack comes in. The essence of the game is to take a measured risk. Sometimes, it’s better to stick, other times, we could benefit from taking another card. Or that card could send up soaring past 21. But that’s the game. Businesses should consider weighing up the pros and cons of taking a risk and occasionally throwing caution to the wind. A risk may pay off or it may not, but at least you’ll know. For example, Dropbox founder Drew Houston didn’t relent when Steve Jobs offered to buy his file-sharing company – and that risk paid off given how valuable Dropbox is today.
Blackjack may not be the most obvious inspiration for businesses, but it can be a fresh perspective that helps us reconsider our business and where it’s heading. Whether we take a risk, adapt with the times, or just keep it simple, there’s a lot we can learn from blackjack in business.