The Great Game of Business Blog

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The Original Doubter of Open-Book Management

  Does it really work or is it just a bunch of hype? Boy, I wish we had a dollar for every time someone has asked us that question. I wish we had five dollars for every answer we've given. Let's see— that would be a debit to "cash" and a credit to "other income." Overhead, labor absorption, and materials would be unaffected, so we have raw profit going straight to the bottom line. Wonderful!!! Our stock value would be enhanced and our jobs secure. See, you're already playing The Game and you've hardly begun the book. Would it scare you if your employees thought like this? Would it scare you if you thought like this? 
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Closing The Gap Between The Haves and The Have-Nots

Sep 2, 2020 by Darren Dahl 0 Comments
  “Business can be a step to make a positive difference in the world. It empowers people to pursue their dreams.” Those are the opening words that Jack Stack and I wrote in our new book, Change the Game: Saving the American Dream By Closing the Gap Between the Haves and the Have-notes. Our goal in writing the book was to share stories about the brighter side of capitalism. We wanted to show real-life examples about how we can create better lives for ourselves and our communities—and bridge the wealth gap plaguing our society—by teaching people the rules of business, helping them keep score, and by sharing A Stake in the Outcome®.  We wanted to shed light on the positive ripple effect that results when you build a business of business-people who think and act as owners do.
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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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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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The Universal Opportunity to Use Business to Close the Gap Between the Haves and the Have-Nots

Jan 28, 2020 by Darren Dahl 0 Comments
When you travel just about anywhere throughout the world, there is a bond that brings people together: Jobs. The desire to earn a living, provide for a family, and give back to one’s community is universal. But the bonds that we all share go beyond what we do or where we work. There’s something else we’re all searching for—a way to leverage business to help close the gap between the so-called “haves” and the “have-nots” that increasingly plagues our societies. We’re looking for a way where everyone can earn the opportunity to win and get ahead. We’re also searching for a way to make work more engaging and participatory. To give people a voice in the work that they do and to give them the opportunity to earn a reward that truly reflects their hard work. We wonder if there is a way to leverage business in a way that creates a better, more equitable society that future generations can build on. In short, we’re all looking for a better way to run a business that gives every worker the chance to grab the brass ring for themselves.
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How One Company Saved $270K in MiniGames™ & Educational Training

Oct 25, 2019 by Lauren Haley 0 Comments
Giving employees equity is one thing. Getting employees to think and act like owners is an entirely different story. That’s why SRC Holdings Corporation has an Ownership Culture Committee (OCC) responsible for challenging each company to stay true to the principles and practices of The Game and spreading the culture of ownership to every employee in the SRC family of companies.   With two major changes in leadership, a dip in the core business, and no sales manager, SRC Logistics, a division of SRC, knew 2019 would hold its challenges. In order to meet their annual plan and the metrics they needed to have a successful business year, their five-member Ownership Culture Committee helped facilitate MiniGames™ across all departments, provide educational trainings, promote cost savings and revenue opportunities, and ultimately close the gaps and have a successful 2019 year. Here’s how SRC Logistics turned their year around:
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Why Choose an ESOP? Benefits of an ESOP Exit Strategy

Oct 8, 2019 by Stephanie Carlin 0 Comments
When it comes to deciding upon an exit strategy, owners of closely held businesses have a lot to think about. Faced with the frightening prospect of turning over the business they have worked so hard to build to new ownership, they might worry about what will happen to the company—and their employees—once they’re gone. Selling the business to a third party isn’t always a welcome or viable option. But if there isn’t a qualified management team or successor in mind, what’s a business owner to do? Fortunately, there is an alternative that can help ensure the continuation of the business while providing significant financial rewards for both the owner and the employees: selling the business to employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).
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Can Equity Ownership be the Ultimate Stake in the Outcome?

Aug 8, 2019 by Martin Staubus 0 Comments
We all know the fundamental building blocks of the Great Game of Business®: Know and teach the rules Follow the action and keep score Provide a Stake in the Outcome® When it comes to that third step—providing a stake in the outcome—what’s the best way to do that? Two common choices include cash bonuses and equity sharing. Many owners, especially those new to the Game, are skittish about sharing equity with employees. They can’t always put their finger on why it makes them nervous, but the reality is that using equity interests can be a great way to provide a stake in the outcome to your associates.
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Five Reasons Open-Book Companies Should Consider an ESOP

Jul 15, 2019 by Victor Aspengren 1 Comment
Liquidity options are plentiful for business owners: strategic sale, private equity, management buyout, family transfer, and leveraged recapitalization. Which path should you take? We know that 28% of the 2018 Great Game™ All-Star companies and many others walked a different path—implementing an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Apart from the fact that ESOPs can be a great exit strategy for open-book companies, here are the top five reasons why open-book management companies should consider an ESOP.
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Employee Ownership Culture and Mindset: Redemption After a Downturn

May 31, 2019 by Lauren Haley 0 Comments
Essential Ingredients was founded in May 1996 in Augusta, GA. This cosmetic chemical and supply distributor has been 100% employee-owned since 2011, after a long history of keeping the financial information and challenges locked away for only management to see. There was one problem: the employees had never had any input or understanding of the company financials, and the financial downturn that followed the ESOP launch proved it. Although an ESOP is a great way to give associates a stake in the outcome® of the company, but is a sense of ownership enough? Essential Ingredients quickly learned that an employee ownership culture and mindset among the employees may be even more impactful.  The Great Game™ has been the turning point that helped all EI associates think and act like the owners they are and see tremendous results impacting revenue growth, the company's ownership culture, savings equating to more than $750K in sales, and earned EI a spot on the 2018 All-Star Team. 
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Uber and Lyft Need To Realize That Stock Is Not A Magic Pill

Mar 11, 2019 by Rich Armstrong 0 Comments
It’s not always easy to work in the so-called “gig economy,” where millions of Americans find ways to earn money on one-off assignments. Prime examples are the folks who spend their time picking up extra fares in their personal cars driving for gig economy stars like Uber and Lyft. While it’s a great way to earn a few extra dollars, few (if any) of those drivers are going to make enough money to retire on. That helps explain the recent buzz around the news that the some folks who have been driving for Uber and Lyft will reportedly get the chance to buy shares of those companies prior to their IPOs (initial public offering), which are expected sometime this year. Lyft, for example, is planning to give drivers who have given at least 10,000 rides a $1,000 bonus they can keep or use to purchase shares of the stock.  
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How to Create a Safe Environment for Employee Involvement

The best, most successful companies feature highly participatory cultures in which employees routinely identify problems and share and implement ideas. High engagement cultures take a lot of work—the right information, the right team structure, management commitment, training time, and more. But a key factor that is often overlooked is the need to create a safe environment in which people feel comfortable dealing with conflict, taking risks, and trying new ideas. This blog talks about why this matters and how to get there. 
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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.