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A QualitEvolution is intended to capture positions and experiences as a participant in the evolution of the Quality profession into the 21st century. From its origins as the brainchild of Corporate Industrial Statisticians, our profession has transformed and evolved to incorporate and adapt to the demands and expectations of our modern existence.

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Friday, January 29, 2016

MONOPOLY - Strategies and Lessons Learned

With the popularity of Donald Trump, for some reason I have been inclined to spend more of my time playing Monopoly.  I play online because it is the quickest, though I also enjoy live board games as well with real people

My general strategy is to acquire the less expensive properties and quickly build up houses.  I have learned that since there are only 32 houses available, my strategy is to try to consume these houses prior to having any of my opponents in a position to purchases houses on their own properties.

Once the houses are consumed, I then focus on acquiring the railroads and utilities.  If opponents are short of cash, they are often more willing to make trades.

Here is an example from a game where I had the 3 ideal color sets, railroads, and utilities, and consumed all of the available houses.

An alternate game shows the same strategy.  Because I had the blue color set first, I ended up having to place a hotel on a less expensive property to ensure that I had sufficient houses available.

I have contemplated this game and thought of some different phases which reflect the different stages of Monopoly competition.   This could be used to more clearly understand our own behaviors to particular situations.

1. Opening Optimism:
This is the initial phase where all players are keen to take their turns and make every purchase possible.  This is analogous to the initial burst of enthusiasm when starting a new venture.

2. Steady Gathering:
Through the next stage, all of the participants are relatively equal and gather their properties and assets in a way that will position their next step.  This methodical approach sets the foundation for future opportunities.  Long-term goals are critical.  In my personal case (with respect to Monopoly), because I target the less expensive properties, my opponents are more willing to make individual trades which appears to their short-term advantage, but enables the achievement of my ultimate objectives.

3. Risky Venturing:
If I am fortunate enough to get a color set, giving me a monopoly, I generally purchase houses that will provide more rental income.  To do this, I have to sacrifice cash, even mortgaging my other properties to enable this initiative.  This is risky because if my expenses or penalties exceed my current cash flow, I will have to sell my houses at a 50% loss.  If the properties return income, that will justify the short-term cash restrictions.

4. Prosperous Growth:
Once the properties are established, they become the foundation for future growth and ultimately the consumption and acquisition of my opponents' properties and assets.  In this phase, I am confident and anticipate every turn as a potential source of income, property acquisition, or advantage.

5. Futility and Defeat:
No strategy is foolproof.  Sometimes the opponents have good fortune and are able to build up their properties earlier.  In this stage, I am hesitant to take my turn, hopeful to avoid paying high rentals, and if I do land in jail, I will remain as the safety of jail is preferable to the risk of financial ruin.

6. Absurdity:
Sometimes the opponents will conspire and make unreasonable trades with each other to enable their success.  Paying 5X the property value will enrich one opponent at the expense of another outside of my control.  This happens in both automated and real-life Monopoly competition.  If someone wants to do this, it is not necessarily rational but then neither is life.

So this in Monopoly, and every player has their own strategy.  I would probably resemble the father of Donald Trump, Fred Trump who made his fortune with lower income housing in a less visible and prestigious part of New York City.  In contrast, Donald Trump was more flamboyant and would be the player who gravitated to Park Place and Boardwalk (or their international equivalents)

Now think about your attitude to work and life.  Do you charge out in the morning, chasing every opportunity?  Do you make risky ventures with the expectation of a great payoff.  Are you simply gathering your modest gains randomly, or are they targeted for a greater future opportunity?  Most importantly, are you hiding from life's challenges, or are you embracing and tackling those entities in your path.

The most important thing I have learned is to have a clear plan and work toward that plan.  Maybe it is not the best plan for everyone, but it works for me.  When I play online, I generally play against 3 opponents.  By random selection, I should only win 25% of the time, but by focusing and prioritizing on building properties in the range between Reading Railroad and Free Parking (squares 6-19 from Go), my success rate is between 65-70%, even when playing with top opponents.

Always be building up and improving.  Sometimes a calculated risk is necessary to get to a desired level.  In real-life terms, this may involve taking time away from work to focus on school, or leaving the predictable income levels of a full-time job to start a new business venture. 

Back to Donald Trump.  My impression is that he spent a lifetime preparing to be an overnight political success.  Consider how unlikely it is that a citizen who has never previously held nor been officially nominated for public office has challenged and surpassed opponents with far more extensive backgrounds in public service and elected office.  Whether or not he got elected, nobody can doubt that if presidential politics were a Monopoly board, Mr. Trump would be the one with the hotels and houses on his properties, anticipating a windfall every time someone landed on his square.

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