Every year, like a little kid, I dread the passing of summer, but in recent years I’ve found a reason to look forward to what follows Labor Day, specifically the Annual Gathering of Games. It’s a special conference where I reconnect with old friends and learn something new – but this year’s Gathering was extra special for me.
As usual, I got to listen in on some great conversations and breakout sessions: I heard Kathy Steele of Red Caffeine talk about how much she hates to lose an employee over $5,000 in salary – especially because it typically costs $4,000 to find a replacement. To which one session attendee responded that he hates competing with companies who hand out raises just to keep miserable people in their jobs. I also heard Doug Tatum, author of No Man’s Land, talk about how little his college students understand about profit.
To which, Chris McKee of Venturity responded that before he opened up his accounting firm’s finances, even some of his professional accountants assumed that 50 percent of the firm’s revenues were dropping to the bottom line.
I also got to talk about the new project I’m working on with Advantage|ForbesBooks CEO Adam Witty. We’re building a community website designed to inform, inspire and connect entrepreneurs, and we’re calling it 21 Hats. Get it? If you own a business, you have to wear a lot of … The basic idea is to try to recreate on a daily basis the kind of experience we all look forward to when we attend an event like the Gathering of Games. While we expect to launch the site in November, I’ve already gotten some great feedback from the eager Great Game™ crowd. You can learn more in our free daily newsletter, which will soon be rebranded the 21 Hats Morning Report and where we will publish frequent updates.
But what really made this year’s Gathering special for me was getting to introduce Jack Stack, co-founder of SRC and the father of open-book management. This gave me the opportunity to share one of my favorite Jack Stack stories. (Let’s just say it involves Jack, a dog and one of those electric-fence pet-containment systems and in this story, it isn’t the dog that gets zapped). More to the point, I got to talk about Jack’s forthcoming book, Change The Game, which he wrote with Darren Dahl — it couldn’t be more timely. With the presidential campaign looming and with lots of people asking serious questions about income inequality and the future of capitalism, Change The Game delivers precisely what it promises – a way to save the American Dream by closing the gap between the haves and have nots.
Jack, of course, has been preaching open-book management, which he calls “the only sensible way to run a company,” for many years, but the evidence that it works has never been more impressive. Not convinced? All you had to do was hear Jack’s talk at the Gathering about the SRC factory worker who continues to show up every day even though his employee ownership account is up to $1.7 million. As Jack asked the Gathering, “Isn’t America a great country?” Jack's upcoming book dives into the success stories and potential to be unlocked by changing The Game. Published by Advantage|ForbesBooks, Change the Game can be pre-ordered here.
Join us next September at the 28th Annual Gathering of Games to get your own great takeaways, meet practitioners just like you, and hear experiences of failures, accomplishments and lessons learned in companies of all sizes and industries.
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