Principles of The Game

The Principles of the Great Game of Business

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Most of the problems we have in business today are a direct result of our failure to show people how they fit into the Big Picture.

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- Jack Stack


People who run companies know that there are really only two critical factors in business.

1. Make money                2. Generate cash


Everything else is a means to that end. Those simple rules apply to every business. And yet, at most companies, people are never told that the survival of the company (and their jobs) depends on doing those two things. No one explains how one person’s actions affects another’s, how each department depends on the others, what impact they all have on the company as a whole. Most important, no one tells people how to make money and generate cash. If you can educate your employees on the Big Picture, you can close the biggest gap in American business— the gap between workers and managers.


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My own goal is to generate wealth for the people I work with, to distribute it in a way that makes the world a better place. It’s one thing to want the world to be better; it’s another to come up with the resources that let you do it. What I’m trying to do here is raise people’s standard of living by showing them how to create wealth and keep it. That’s my Big Picture.

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- Jack Stack

Tapping into the universal human need to win, The Great Game of Business educates your people in the rules of business, rallies them around a common goal, empowers them to see and improve the score, and engages them by giving them a Stake in the Outcome—presenting them with the opportunity to win as a team.



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Know & Teach the Rules

It’s imperative that you educate employees about the business, so they begin to think like you do, an owner. To do so you must focus on:


Financial Transparency and Education

According to a research report by Brad Rawlins, published in Public Relations Journal, transparency is an essential element for building trust. If the strategy is to create a business of businesspeople, it follows that employees must learn the language of business—the financials. The financials are often the only report card in the company that shows the collective contribution of each and every department and individual in the company. So why not use them to bring people together?



At The Great Game of Business we focus on what we call High-Involvement Planning. When The Game is created with broad participation—specifically the people who are closest to the action and who understand the realities—it creates a level of commitment and alignment that just can’t be matched. High-Involvement Planning helps companies transform their planning process from an annual time-consuming ritual to a highly informative, educational journey that involves everybody at every level of the company in understanding the big picture and the importance of looking forward into the marketplace.


Not just any goal. The Critical Goal…THE Critical Number. Your company’s Critical Number is the one metric, either operational or financial, that represents a weakness or vulnerability that, if not addressed and corrected, will negatively impact the overall performance and long-term security of the business. This Critical Number is what represents winning. It serves as a common and clearly defined goal that directs employee focus and demonstrates progress and success.

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Follow the Action & Keep Score

Once you know the rules it is easier to play The Game. When you follow the action and keep score your team can better judge if they are winning or losing The Game.

Forward Forecasting

You can’t change history. Forward forecasting is the fundamental way in which The Great Game of Business companies communicate the numbers and create forward-looking, educational, and results-focused staff meetings. Forward forecasting is a vital part of business planning that uses past financial performance and current conditions or trends to predict future company performance. In other words, Forward forecasts are a tool by which businesses can set and meet goals.

Keep Score

Winners are fanatics about keeping score. They understand that if you’re not keeping score, it’s just practice. The primary objective of keeping score is to simply and consistently inform the players if they are winning or losing and who is accountable.



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If you can get people beyond the day- to- day issues, if you can appeal to something they really want to do, they’ll blow by every obstacle.

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- Jack Stack



Provide a Stake in the Outcome

There is no more powerful tool a manager can have than a good bonus program— which is why some companies will pay a consultant tens of thousands of dollars to design one. If a bonus program works, it can be an incredible motivator. A bonus program communicates goals in the most effective way possible— by putting a bounty on them.



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