The Great Game of Business Blog

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Facts Matter More Now Than Ever

Jan 12, 2021 by Jack Stack 0 Comments
      We live in a strange time. It’s not always clear what’s true or what’s a figment of someone’s imagination—like a made-up story that people think is true that then spreads like wildfire on social media. When people can’t agree on facts anymore, it creates all kinds of problems.  
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How The Great Game Gave One Business Hope At Its Darkest Time

Dec 17, 2020 by Darren Dahl 0 Comments
Back in mid-March 2020, Chris Hurley, the co-owner and CEO of Russell & Abbott Heating and Cooling in Maryville, TN, was in a dark place. The COVID-19 pandemic had begun its rampage and the country was beginning to shut down in response.
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Missed Opportunities

“Maybe that meeting was my missed opportunity,” Ron told me, beating himself up a bit. “The fact that the president hadn’t even reported the actual results from the quarter should have alarmed every one of us board members into taking action.” That never would have happened at SRC. We work with our financials in real-time and through our constant huddling, not to mention our bi-annual High-Involvement Planning (HIP) meetings where all of our divisions get together to compare our progress on achieving our plans and forecasts. Paranoia can be good for you—unless you don’t do something about what scares you. You can’t hide from the solution and be successful.
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If You Work At Netflix, You’re Going To Get Wet

Sep 22, 2020 by Darren Dahl 2 Comments
Why the online streaming company doesn’t believe in keeping secrets from its employees. In his new bestselling book, No Rules Rules, Reed Hastings digs into some of the cultural aspects that make the company he co-founded, Netflix, so successful. In the book, which is framed as a kind of conversation with Erin Meyer, a professor at the INSEAD business school, Hastings writes that one of the cultural values he instilled in Netflix from its very beginning was that there weren’t going to be any secrets. As he puts it, embracing transparency and letting go of secrets—what Netflix calls “sunshining”—brings incredible advantages in terms of building trust and empowering employees to think like owners. What’s interesting is that Hastings acknowledges it’s easy for leaders to say they are pro-transparency. No one goes around saying they want to promote organizational secrecy, right? But why then, he asks, do so many organizations not walk the walk when it comes to sharing things like the company’s financials with their employees?
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Does Opening the Books Mean Sharing Everything?

Jul 16, 2020 by Great Game Team 0 Comments
    One of the main concerns business owners have when first introduced to open-book management is related to what information will be shared. They fear that revealing details of the company’s financial picture will create stress and tension within the organization. For example, owners are often concerned about whether employee salary information is to be revealed. They even worry about the competition gaining access to their financials.
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The Critical Number is at the Heart of The Game

Jul 14, 2020 by Rich Armstrong 0 Comments
      Inspired by Rich Armstrong & Steve Baker's book, Get in the Game: How to Create Rapid Financial Results and Lasting Cultural Change. The original Critical Number™ for Jack Stack and the people of SRC was obvious. With a debt to equity ratio of 89:1, they needed to make the bank loan payment. If they didn’t do that, nothing else mattered— their jobs would be gone. Debt was their weakness and they needed to drive it out of their business.   Jack used that one common goal to rally people, get their buy-in and educate them. Not only why it was critical, but how they could influence it. Armed with a common goal people could understand and buy into, Jack could teach debt to equity, along with all the related financial education in their weekly Huddles. And after a year and fifty-two lessons, you can be sure they learned it.
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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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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.