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4 Secrets of Survival You Should Learn from ESOPs

Jul 7, 2020 by Corey Rosen 0 Comments
    Research shows that companies who share ownership widely with employees survive recessions better than ones that do not. They lay fewer people off, they recover faster, and they often end up able to buy other companies who have not done as well. So what is their secret, and what are they doing to survive the most extreme crisis any of us has ever faced? That was one of the topics covered in a recent book I wrote for the NCEO, Dealing with the Economic Crisis: Lessons from ESOP Companies. About half the book looks at issues specific to ESOPs (plan restructuring, executive pay, refinancing, interim valuations, communicating valuation, etc.). The other half looks at ideas on organizational culture that any company can use—albeit they are likely to work better if you do share ownership. Several key themes emerge from companies we looked at:
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Do You Play The Game...Even When You Lose?

Jun 30, 2020 by Robert Isherwood 0 Comments
      I’d like to tell you a story. Let me begin with a disclaimer, it’s not about winning big or how The Great Game of Business® instantly made us hugely profitable and loads of fun. It’s a terrible story about losing. Also, I have not been involved in open-book management or The Great Game of Business very long. Truth be told, I’m about as green as anyone can be. Here’s the 10 second backstory – AMBAC International has been manufacturing precision engine components for over 100 years. The men and women on the shop floor know what they’re doing. I’ll tell anyone they’re the best in the world, and I’ve got the data to back that up. But, the shop floor wasn’t really connected to the ‘business’ and everyone suffered from poor corporate performance as a result. In fact, we were in real danger of losing the company.
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When Winning is the Bedrock of Your Culture

Jun 18, 2020 by Darren Dahl 0 Comments
  There is a secret weapon in the fight against COVID-19: America’s urgent care clinics. While Americans have long relied on these walk-in clinics for help in overcoming ailments like the flu and mononucleosis, the fear of COVID has kept people away from healthcare centers across the country. Lacking adequate personal protection equipment, urgent care center visit volumes, decreased 50% almost overnight.
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Who Says Business Isn’t Personal?

Jun 2, 2020 by Darren Dahl 0 Comments
  We all know some version of the line that appears in the iconic film, The Godfather, where Michael Corleone says to his brother, Sonny: “It’s not personal…it’s strictly business.” Turns out that the phrase was reportedly coined in real life by a guy named Otto Berman, who also happened to be an accountant for organized crime families. With a checkered origin like this, why has this phrase become so wildly accepted? 
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Reasons You Should Bring the Marketplace to Your People

May 27, 2020 by Rich Armstrong 1 Comment
Improve Your Year-End Outlook—Through Data-driven, High-Involvement Planning & Strategy Development Every business out there has been impacted by economic conditions in some way. While some have been forced to shut their doors, others have seen demand spike for their products or services. The devastating speed with which disruption has hit forced companies to make dramatic adjustments to cope and survive—or even to keep up and thrive. But short-term thinking will only get you so far. It’s now time to adjust your sights and start to look further out. It’s time to move past the uncertainty of today and begin thinking about what the marketplace is telling you about what your organization faces tomorrow.
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Why Timing is Everything

May 20, 2020 by Darren Dahl 2 Comments
When's the best time to start playing The Great Game of Business®? For SRC, it didn’t come down to a choice. They began playing Great Game™ back in 1983 out of desperation. It was a Hail Mary resort to save their business. They used the system to claw their way out of an 89-to-1 debt-to-equity hole. In the years since, many other companies have also turned to The Great Game of Business system as a last resort. Most of us are more open to change during tough times. What’s less common, though, is companies embracing the system during good times. Why fix something when it isn’t broken, right?
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Why Being Open-Book Matters During a Downturn

May 15, 2020 by Darren Dahl 0 Comments
A conversion with Ari Weinzweig from Zingerman’s Community of Businesses. The pandemic has hit restaurants hard across the country. Even those that have remained open by offering delivery and take-out service have seen sales—as well as profits—drop, often by a lot. There’s also the question of how to manage furloughed or laid off staff—and when to bring them back to work. Finding answers to those questions remains top of mind for Ari Weinzweig, the co-founder (with Paul Saginaw) of Zingerman’s Community of Businesses (ZCoB), a collection of what is now 11 ventures based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  ZCoB includes an array of industries such as a deli, a bakery, a mail-order fulfillment house, a caterer, a training business (that teaches open-book management among other topics), a coffee company, a creamery, a restaurant, a candy maker, an event space, and most recently, a Korean restaurant. ZCob also includes a separate business called Zingerman’s Service Network that provides administrative services to its sister companies.
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It’s Time To Reimagine Your Business

May 13, 2020 by Darren Dahl 0 Comments
The coronavirus pandemic, and the subsequent economic shutdown, has seemed to punish some businesses more than others. That’s especially true for anyone in the travel, hospitality, or restaurant industries—all of whom have been essentially shut down with the economy. For these business owners, the rescue package offered by the government—and the payroll protection program, or PPP, in particular—offered a short-term lifeline to keep companies alive and people employed.
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Playing Defense to Survive the New Normal

We’re all still trying to figure out what the “new normal” is—especially when it comes to keeping people safe. But I also believe we need to get the economy rolling again. I realize it isn't always a popular position to take these days. It seems like people are dividing into two camps: one that is pro-safety and the other pro-business. I absolutely believe that we need to do everything to be protective of people. But I also know what kind of damage we’re doing to people’s lives the longer we keep the economy shut down. It is devastating to see more than 32 million out of work. I was blown away to learn that for every percentage point the unemployment rate ticks up, suicide rates also go up 0.78%. People’s mental health is at risk—especially when their unemployment runs out at the end of July. And that says nothing about the state and local budget deficits that are piling up as sales tax receipts continue to fall off a cliff—which could mean we’re looking at serious cutbacks in services like police and fire that keep us safe. It has me left asking, "What’s the long-term cost of that?" 
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Capitalism At Its Best

On March 17, 2020, John Costello, the owner and CEO of Cherry’s Industrial in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, entered a nightmare. On that day he learned that his wife, who works in the business, fell ill. She exhibited all the classic symptoms of Covid-19, such as a fever, dry cough, and a sore throat. But, with limited testing available at the time, they couldn’t be sure. Then, their son experienced similar symptoms.
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Using Unprecedented Uncertainty to Reinvent Ourselves

It’s been interesting to hear about how people are spending their time at home in isolation amidst the pandemic. Some folks I’ve talked to have spent the time looking through old picture albums and letters to reminisce about the past. Parents have had to learn how to juggle their roles as caretakers with the new added job of schoolteacher. Others have taken up new hobbies like baking bread (if they can find enough yeast). Then there are those who have used their time indoors to tackle home improvement projects of all kinds. I came home from work one day, for instance, and my wife asked me if I noticed anything different. I looked around and admitted that I didn’t see any changes. Had she bought a new kitchen appliance or something? Wrong answer. Turns out she had spent the whole day cleaning out all our closets and drawers. Whoops. I was suddenly facing a radical version of social distancing inside my own house.
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Flattening the Economic Curve

The last six weeks feels like six years. It’s incredible how much has changed so fast. There have been so many new federal and state programs rapidly pushed through, all with the intent of helping our people and companies through this crisis. The speed of the legislation has been great to see—but it’s also caused confusion in the details for implementation and administration of the various programs and benefits. It's forcing us, as a company, to do everything we possibly can to find ways to keep our people safe while our factories remain open. We’re the type of company that likes to get out in front of a situation rather than react to it. That means we’ve needed information; lots of it. So, when the crisis hit, we started making calls—hundreds of them—to our local contacts at places like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to get answers to our questions about creating a safe environment for our people. But we didn’t stop there. Even though our factories remain open for the moment, we continue to take a big hit.
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About The Great Game of Business

Our approach to running a company was developed to help close one of the biggest gaps in business: the gap between managers and employees. We call our open-book approach The Great Game of Business. What lies at the heart of The Game is a very simple proposition: The best, most efficient, most profitable way to operate a business is to give everybody in the company a voice in saying how the company is run and a stake in the outcome. Let us teach you how to develop a culture of ownership, where employees think, act and feel like owners.