The Prisoner’s Dilemma is a classic game theory problem that shows how communication can drastically affect outcomes. The image is self explanatory: two prisoners are offered a deal, if one confesses the other gets 20 years, if none confess both get 1 year, and if both confess they each get 5 years in prison.
Trust makes way for treachery
The best outcome from a statistical point of view is to cooperate and stay silent. The dilemma here is that communication between the two prisoners is cut off; leaving all decisions to trust and chance.
What would you do?
From a leadership and management perspective, you can leverage communications or the lack of them to identify different outcomes. This is especially useful in change efforts to help managers identify different strategies to solve competitive problems through collaboration.
You can’t shake hands with a clenched fist – Gandhi