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What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger: Surviving the Recession by Starting with Why


Anthony Wilder is a full-service, custom architecture, construction, and interior design provider founded by the husband-and-wife team of Anthony and Liz Wilder. The Wilder team has been creating award-winning projects in and around the Washington, DC, metropolitan and tri-state area for more than twenty years.

Back in 2006, the company was setting records in helping their customers’ dreams come true as the housing market boomed. Revenues were way up, and the firm had built up a two-year pipeline of backlog work to come. Everything was going great, and as the old saying goes, “Why fix something that isn’t broken?”

And then the recession hit.

Within just a few months of the collapse of the housing market in 2008, sales at Wilder Design essentially dried up—no one was spending money on new homes or renovating existing ones. They, like just about every firm in the housing and construction industries, were dead in the water. Their ship was sinking.

The Wilders were then faced with an impossible decision: they needed to cut costs—deeply. But how? The team at Anthony Wilder had already implemented the Great Game of Business® with the help of a coach, and because they had opened the books, everyone in the company understood that drastic measures needed to be taken. Everyone in the company could see the facts staring back at them on their scoreboards.

What they didn’t want to do was lay anyone off. They wanted to weather the storm together without losing anyone. The Wilders ultimately concluded that they would make painful across-the-board salary reductions rather than lay anyone off. Employees would be cut back 20 percent, managers 30 percent, and Liz and Anthony 50 percent. Even those drastic cuts would buy the company just three months of runway, and it was Liz that had to reveal the news to the team.

She knew people on staff had families to feed, houses to pay for, and college tuition bills for their kids. She didn’t know how they would react, and her stomach was tied in knots as a result. She thought of the one carpenter on her staff who had seven kids. What was he going to do?

When Liz revealed the news, the response from her team shocked her...

Hear the rest of Anthony Wilder's story in this presentation from the 26th Annual Gathering of Games and read about their successes in our new book, Get in the Game. 


Find more inspiring Great Game™ stories and implementation how-to's in Get in the Game: How to Create Rapid Financial Results and Lasting Cultural Change.

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Topics: Leadership, Open-Book Management, Transparency

Rich Armstrong & Steve Baker

Rich Armstrong and Steve Baker, president and VP of the Great Game of Business are the authors of GGOB's new book Get in the Game: Rapid Financial Results and Lasting Cultural Change. This book was designed with a focus on implementation. The how-to. The cookbook. The step-by-step approach we use every day to implement and sustain The Great Game of Business inside organizations all over the world and in every industry. This book is designed to teach you the principles and practices of the operating system to “get you in The Game” quickly, take you on a deeper dive to make it stick, and, finally, to start you on the journey of High-Involvement Planning™ that will help you transform not only your business, but your people. It's Money. It's People. It's Both.

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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.