Michele Bridges, Executive Trainer for The Great Game of Business, shares all about how businesses can utilize the power of MiniGames to engage employees and change their business.
Episode with guest: Michele Bridges
Executive Trainer at The Great Game of Business
(This episode was recorded in April of 2020.)
Steve Baker (00:15): Everybody, good morning and welcome to the Great Game of Business weekly Friday livestream, our open-book management, community huddle where we connect with the community, bring important ideas, and give you tons of useful stuff. I'm Steve Baker, and with me, as always, is Rich Armstrong, our President of the Great Game of Business and co-author of our new book, Get in the Game: How to Create Rapid Financial Results and Lasting Cultural Change. Good morning, Rich. How are ya?
Rich Armstrong (00:45): Good morning. Hey, Steve. I'm trying to do my video. The host has got me trapped, so it must not want to see me in my pajamas. Oh! Here we are.
Steve Baker (00:56): I was just gonna say, you could just stay on that, you know? That smoky, black and white photo works every time.
Rich Armstrong (01:03): Well I see you're still streaming from the Batcave there, Steve.
Steve Baker (01:06): I am. I actually just finished phase one of the Batcave. I'm now surrounded on the front side by acoustic foam. Now if I can just find machine guns we're going to be okay. So, folks, a little housekeeping as always, we've got you muted until the community Q&A. Probably the last 10/15 minutes of this show, and then should Zoom have a problem the team is standing by right now to instantly shoot you a contingency link on another platform if we need it. I don't think we will. We've had great luck.
I would like to start out with, it's kind of a somber note, but there's an upside as well. I wanted to tell you about Warren Burrows. So Warren, we lost him here this past week to COVID-19. Warren was one of the original guys at SRC; he was one of the original associates. He died at 79. But he started in 1983. And retired in I think it was 2006. After 23 years of service, he was known for his gentle kind of gentle, generous personality.
I remember interviewing him several times for the Great Game of Business because he kind of went from that guy who didn't know about money to the guy who ended up in retirement. He served the community by counseling folks on personal financial literacy. And I just think that's amazing. And I'm really, you know, we're really gonna miss you Warren. So thanks for that. The upside is that when we think about, you know, the tragedies that are happening in this pandemic, we were on, Rich and I were on, a call this morning.
And if I heard Jack right, I don't think out of 1800 people in 10 different companies in three cities. I don't think there's been one case of COVID-19 which really speaks to the awesomeness of our folks. At the different safety and health… I'm not sure how to word that. Rich, help me out what do you call the environmental health and safety people in the organization that help us out with that?
Rich Armstrong (03:13): I don't know, if it’s a specific name. Just Health and Safety Committee, I mean, focus group around all of those activities, they've just done an incredible job with that.
Steve Baker (03:24): Yep. I think it's pretty amazing. And so, you know, a good way to start is, you know, to make sure that we recognize folks, you know, from our community, but also, you know, kind of shine a light on the folks that are really making it good for all of us in a tough situation. So
Rich Armstrong (03:40): So just real quick comment about Warren. This is a guy that, you know, is one of the original 116 employees at SRC, and I remember coming in as a young guy out of college back in 1990, a long time ago, in this organization. What I appreciate most about Warren, is he kind of adopted all of us young kids coming into the company, he would always come by the offices from the warehouse and check in on us. “How's everything going? How are you doing? You understand, you know, the business you're in now and how unique it is.”
And those types of things. He was really the first person that I could probably look up to in the organization outside of Jack that just was, you know, living those principles and practices every single day and wanted to make sure that we knew how special that was.
Steve Baker (04:33): Yeah, that's cool. Well, for what it's worth, I was thinking about him yesterday. And if you go to our YouTube channel, then search Warren, you'll find where he talks about “noodle night” where he and his wife would have spaghetti and talk about their finances, you know, so it was a regular routine and just really an amazing guy. So thanks, Rich, for just saying that. I mean, I think it adds to the story.
Rich Armstrong (04:57): Absolutely.
Steve Baker (04:59): So, every week we kind of ask a question. Last week's question was: What are some of those out of the box ideas that you've got related to this crisis? And how do you put these ideas into action? What's really weird is, and it's cool, we got more questions than we did answers. And it's a perfect way to get in and activate those—I’m sorry, the perfect way to get in and activate these out of the box ideas is MiniGames, so we kind of themed today's show around MiniGames.
We're going to be walking you through some ideas on what we can all be doing right now to make our businesses and our people stronger. And we'll take the hour completely to you know, it'll be perfect just to bring in your design team culture committees, I would, if you haven't done it already haven't joined even whenever they can. It's just a great time to get everybody aligned and get people taking action. As we always say, action is the antidote for fear.
Before we begin, I would like to share a quote that I think is more relevant now than ever if you've seen me present at the Get in the Game workshop, which is basically the live version of our new book, Get in the Game. You've probably heard me talk about Viktor Frankl he was a psychologist and a Holocaust survivor. And his theory was that through a search for meaning and purpose in life, individuals can endure hardship and suffering. And so here's the quote that I think is so amazing, maybe you can get some use out of it. “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing, the last of the few human freedoms, to choose one's own attitude in any given set of circumstances to choose one's own way.”
And man, now is the time you know you've absorbed the initial shock of the pandemic. Now you got to take action, right? So make some bold moves and create your own comeback and MiniGames are the perfect way to do it. So I hope that's useful guys. I'm really excited to introduce Michele Bridges. She is a great, if not the greatest sidekick of all time. Hi, Michele. Michele and I, along with other Great Game team members have been working for over two, three years down in Texas to train and drive ownership mentality in their 114,000 partners, Texas may never be the same Michele. She does a great job.
In fact, it's probably worth since you had your badge there, I'll just do you one better. And we'll show them. This is why they don't give these things away. I mean, you got to earn them. So we each have a little star, which means we have to mop the floors. So that's the big picture there. It's really a pleasure. It's an honor to have you on the show Michele, but one more thing. As a master trainer and resident queen of MiniGames. you design the best learning experiences every organization could wish for welcome Michele Bridges. How are you?
Michele Bridges (08:07): Hey, I am great. You guys, thank you for letting me be here today. I am super excited during this time for all of us to get our heads together. And let's start today, making the choice of moving our workforce and moving our people into a new normal, a new opportunity. So well, thank you.
Rich and Steve (08:30): Well said.
Steve Baker (08:31): Okay, so, to begin with, I’ve been saying MiniGames, MiniGames, MiniGames. In all fairness, there's probably some viewers that are saying, “Okay, what the hell is a MiniGame?” I just want to define it and say MiniGames are the Great Game of Business process, which can be found in my new book: Get in the Game. Takes those 10 steps basically brings them into microcosms, so we call them “short term intensely focused improvement programs designed to attack a weakness or an opportunity, but it's got all the same elements of the Big Game.” Michele, why on earth should someone think about playing MiniGames?
Michele Bridges (09:10): Okay, as we're teaching this, you know that it is super important to always attach the why with the what and the how. And there are four reasons why you play MiniGames. You want to affect a change. Do you want to be—I can guarantee you none of us want to be where we are today, in a year. But we asked this question all the time. Do you want to be in the same place that you are today? In a year? And the answer is categorically: No. That's why you've invited us in to work with you. So you want to take on an opportunity. You want to take on a problem. But I want you to, I want you to hold on to this. You want to take something that you want to fix or you want to build on and you want to move forward. We want to move from today into the future. So we want to take on a change. We want to reinforce business training, please hang on to the fact that the Great Game of Business is a very disruptive methodology in the fact that we come in, and we want our methodology to touch every person in your organization. We want to build a business of business owners because that is the power behind the Great Game methodology. So we want to reinforce business training, you know, when I come in and teach basic financial literacy, normally when I'm doing it with a full time launch, I am greeted with, “I didn't come here to learn accounting.”
Steve Baker (10:36): Yeah, exactly.
Michele Bridges (10:38): It's this. But then when we're done, people are excited because we didn't teach them how to become accountants. We taught them how to tell the stories about business. So we want to reinforce business training. We want to build teamwork. We want to make sure that we are not, we're not an organization of individuals. Jack said that you might be able to stop one person, you can't stop 100. So we are building a team. We are building teams throughout the Great Game of Business because that gives us a stronger structure. And finally, we want to create the habit of winning. Right now it is very, very hard sitting in my basement abode for me to start feeling discouraged. I'm missing everybody. I'm missing everybody a lot. And I would not be honest, if I said that this has been a super easy time. I'm missing my people. And every day, I have to think of a reason why we are pushing this and we're pushing this forward. Why are we still playing The Game today? We want to win. We want to win this moment in time and we want to go on so that's what.
Steve Baker (11:51): Gotta create wins.
Rich Armstrong (11:55): Great, great. Hey Michele. My first question is a doozy. This is one of the very first questions that we got from our community once we hit this crisis, especially all the practitioners, obviously, that were using MiniGames is that, “Okay, I got a MiniGame I've set this MiniGame, should I stop the MiniGame? Should I stop doing MiniGames? Because now we're in a situation where we don't see like we can create any wins or the big wins or not there. Should we stop playing MiniGames?
Michele Bridges (12:33): Thank you. And I mean, I think this is a great one to knock off, at first. As Steve pointed out to you, I am a great sidekick. I work beside Steve, Rich, are amazing coaches. And so I've been reaching out to my people to ask them what their views are on this right now. I spoke with Jack O'Reilly this morning and he was talking about how his people are more intensely focused on MiniGames, because it's their lifeline. That's what's going on. But they are showing grace in the middle of it. So here's my answer for you. If the MiniGame right now cannot be done, then I want you to celebrate the pause. I want you to be intentional with the pause. And I want you to give guidelines on why you're positive. Because we want to create a culture of winning. So if you cannot win right now, why waste the momentum? You can pause it. I don't think anyone is going to say—you can pause it. You can increase the time. So if all of a sudden it looks like you can't meet it in 30 days, take a vote with the team that's playing it. Yeah, let's do it. 60 days I bet we can do it in 60 days and throw that gauntlet down.
Now, if it is causing stress. If it is causing concern, then here's what I want to encourage you to do. And we'll touch on these ideas later. Because these are some ideas that came up from my coaches as well. I want you to pause it. And I want you to replace it with a different type of MiniGame that you can reach out and fortify your team right now. And we'll talk about that in a little bit. So, right now let's extend grace, let's extend a win. If it is a win to show your team grace by saying, “Hey, let's not waste these moments. Let's make another one that's just for us.”
Steve Baker (14:35): Nice. I like that. Extending grace. That's a very apropos kind of thought pattern to have right now. You know, people are on edge and they're uncertain and scared. So I really liked that a lot. Let's extend one another little grace and let's ask for a little grace, right? We've been encouraging folks in our coaching you know, go out and talk to your you know, whoever owns your more mortgage and whoever, you know, you pay rent to and all those things. So give a little, get a little. I like it. You know, one of the common things we always hear, but especially now, when it's like, “I've just got to stay afloat!” There are so many objections and obstacles that people can throw up. It's very natural. Like you said earlier, you know, “I don't want to become an accountant.” Well, a business leader might say, “We don't have time for this, we don't even see each other.” So what are some common obstacles, objections, you know, things that people throw up there? And then what would you say in response to those?
Michele Bridges (15:33): Okay, um, when we were talking about obstacles, and we've had this conversation, and I also pulled my coaches and so when we're talking about obstacles, let's apply and let's blanket it. So I need Rich and Steve, I need you to come back at me and ask me is this COVID or is this regular? Okay, can you do that? Right now, is it frivolous to be playing MiniGames? Is this a waste of our focus? It is never. I was reading a Harvard Business Review article about building resilience within your organization. And the whole time I was reading it, I was like, this is a MiniGame. This is a MiniGame. Because, it was talking about utilizing these MiniGames right now to make an intentional and I mean, Harvard Business Review was not talking about MiniGames I was in the narrative in my mind, which tells you I need a hobby. But!
Steve Baker (16:27): I've been telling you that for years,
Michele Bridges (16:28): I know I know. But as we are talking about building the resilience of our people, I need you to understand that right now, in the separation, in the quiet, in the moments when we're not on Zoom connecting, there are assumptions being made. And there is a narrative going on in everyone's head in their sphere. So the only way that we can take people out of fear is putting them into the loop, teaching them everything that they need to know and engaging them. The ways to build resilience right now in your organization is as leaders, you touch your people, and you tell them how they touch the company, how important they are in the company, and you engage them on, “Guys, how are we going to come out of this? How do you feel like we can come out of this stronger?”
So, yeah, right now maybe we can't focus on labor efficiencies. Right now we can focus on: tell us your dream of what we want to do going forward. Tell us one thing you want to learn as we walk out of here. Tell us one thing right now, what you want to do that can increase what we are going to do as an organization. I personally want to challenge leaders right now, to make it the intent to touch base with their direct reports. And tell them how they are touching the company and how important they are. That could be a leadership MiniGame right there is making the intent to touch your employees and let them know how they touch. That's connecting the line of sight. Even to the Big Game, when we talk about playing the Big Game of the Great Game of Business, you know, we have the critical number in the middle, and then we have no one teaching the rules. And all of that is swirling around all the time. MiniGames connect the front line to the critical number. So they see how their attitudes, actions and behaviors touch that critical number. So right now, an obstacle is communication. We have to intentionally go through that Dave Scholten set up communication. He's one of our coaches, and he is really big on setting up communication MiniGames right now. Giving people a time limit. I'm going to give you a question and you each spend time talking. I'll give you a time limit. You can talk about everything but work. You know, it is imperative for us to build our communication loops because it's not easy for me to barge into Baker's office right now and scare him to death.
Steve Baker (18:57): Well, it is a cave.
Michele Bridges (19:03): But we have to be intentional with our communications. So… I got off track. I'm sorry, this is… okay. So another obstacle: is there negativity. Is there negativity within the MiniGames, or, you know, are you feeling put upon by the MiniGames? If there is negativity within the MiniGames going on, there's a lack of communication. There is a lack of “this is what this means.” So let's say that you have established a criteria on the MiniGames that you are wanting to make sure that you're reporting. “It's hard to get all these reports in.” Okay. The intent of the MiniGame is to report. So, if you have the criteria that you have to report 100% every day you might be asking for, you know, communicate on, “Okay guys, why the negativity? What's going on? Is the goal this extensive?” So instead of reporting 100% of the time, how about we settle into a new normal of presenting 90% of the time. That gives a little bit of grace wriggle room, but I am going to touch negativity with connecting the line of sight and communication. So okay, let me I'm going to check my notes. What other obstacles? Hit me with some obstacles. You hit me. Not hard.
Rich Armstrong (20:38): Well, I can make it one is that there's a little bit of lack of buy in to The Game itself.
Michele Bridges (20:45): Okay, that's perfect. Um, let's go back in time, if we get in a time machine and if we could go back to 1983 when the Great Game of Business was being born, it was not born in a think tank. It was born on a shop floor of 116 souls who were trying to save their jobs. Jack knew that we needed the heart, souls, minds, and abilities of every single person on that shop floor, and The Game was born there. So, The Game was communicated. Clearly, this is not a leadership momentum, we are building a business of business people. And every heart, mind, spirit and soul need to be engaged in this and there is value in that. So how are we communicating the Big Game to every single person? And how are we connecting every single person to it? Because you could throw out a revenue number and we need to be making this revenue number. Well, that's great. But right now, I don't see how my job touches revenue. You show me how I touch revenue. You show me what my worth here is at the company. And maybe I'll move your revenue.
Steve Baker (22:09): Yeah, that's definitely a buy in thing. I gotta understand what The Game is.
Michele Bridges (22:12): Yeah, exactly. So it is, you know, we get a lot of feedback because I know the people who grab the Great Game of Business book and they internalize it and they think about it and they know what it can do to their company. And they get the Get into the Game book. They, they run in and they're like, “Oh my gosh, this is gonna be great. We need to do this, and you know that you're talking. I want to tell you about the financials.” When I came on board, guys, I'm a communications major. Bankers and art major, and I mean, the bankers a whole lot smarter than me. But when you were talking to me about numbers, I was hearing Charlie Brown's mom. (Charlie Brown Adult Noises) until we connect. This is why we want to talk about revenue. This is what net profit means. If we meet this net profit goal, we're going to be able to feed the bonus, we're going to be able to buy a new plant, we're going to be able to get new equipment, we're going to be able to make your job easier. Did that help?
Rich Armstrong (23:18): That helps. Michele, you use the term Big Game. And Steve earlier talked about the MiniGames of the microcosm of The Game. We do have some new practitioners or people that are kind of, you know, kicking the tires a bit on the game. And, you know, some of you say, “Can I skip this MiniGame thing and just go straight to the Big Game and is that a problem to do?”
Michele Bridges (23:43): Okay. When you're looking at The Great Game of Business, we have principles and practices. We have our critical number which is the one single thing that everyone in the organization needs to be looking at. Revenue. Net profit. But you never know what it's going to be. That varies per company. Around that, we have practices that go into it. Teaching people how to tell the stories behind the numbers, basic financial literacy, getting every person involved in high involvement planning. So they're looking into the future to see our roadmap, how we're going to grow and thrive. At the same time, we're doing pedals and we're building a scoreboard that everyone can watch and see how they're touching the numbers and making them grow.
Now, please understand that as far as we are concerned, and as far as my coaches are concerned, I can tell you that we feel like the income statement needs a new column that has names and faces and actions and behaviors and descriptions because a number is a placeholder. It's not the story behind the number. So the scoreboard allows us to watch the number like we watch a temperature on a temperature gauge, but then we understand how our actions feed that. And then finally, the whole time we're learning, the whole time we're watching it. We're providing a stake in the outcome. MiniGames are part of that. Bonus, employee ownership, even recognition, which recognition is being overlooked right now, while we're on. I mean, Rich, you haven't told me how wonderful I am today.
Those are the things that we're forgetting because we're not able to elbow bump each other together. So that's the Big Game. That's the Big Game. Now, the way that you make it apply, is you break that Big Game down, and you apply it to one workgroup, one department, one process, and you show how that one department feeds into the big number. They may not be in sales. Yet, they're building the product that the people sell. So yeah, you are a part of revenue you are part of gross margin. Tell the story behind the number. MiniGames are the powerful tool. I look at it, MiniGames aren't a phase. MiniGames are something that are baked into everything that we do. And let's say you go buy a real big, fast fancy car. MiniGames are the hydraulics. So you want to burn rubber off—is that a proper thing?
Steve Baker (26:32): No one drives anymore.
Michele Bridges (26:36): Okay, back when we used to drive cars, um, but if you want to pull off the parking lot fast, you engage the momentum and the energy and heart and the wisdom of your people. You're gonna fly.
Steve Baker (26:52): So I what I hear you saying is, if somebody's questioning, you know, can I just skip them and get right in there? Probably under the under impression that you start with MiniGames. But in reality, I think what I took out of what you said is, you know, while we're learning as a leadership team, how to forecast and huddle and create a bonus plan and all those other things, well, MiniGames can be running at the same time in parallel, which is really pretty cool. So you can do just MiniGames but why just have hydraulics as you said, why not have the whole machine running in perfect tune? Interesting. Well, now I'm just processing. I remember why I have a car. I just I don't know what to do with it.
Rich Armstrong (27:45): So you mentioned sales teams earlier.
Steve Baker (27:49): Oh, yeah.
Rich Armstrong (27:50): About the sales, the top line revenue always comes up. I mean, right now, you know, it's tough out there in terms of driving a dollar revenue right now. And so there probably are a lot of MiniGame opportunities for sales teams. But typically the sales team can be kind of the lone wolf. They're kind of individual goals that they've established and they're even more remote with facilities today than they were before all of this. What advice do you give for people in that situation? Where they really want to drive revenue and that is the critical number they need to tie MiniGames to? What do you what do you suggest?
Michele Bridges (28:31): The first thing that we have to think about is everything is done via a team. This is not an individual sport. Revenue is a bucket. So we need to determine what all is poured into that bucket. Now, if I think about remote sales teams, everyone has a different reach. Some people have 5% of the share, some people are selling 30%. It just depends on the market. Yet, all of it is value when it hits. So, as a sales team, what are the actions that go into making your sale, especially remotely right now? So is it prospecting? Is it reaching out to former clients? Is it analyzing clients that have left? You know, and so think about what we can do and touch right now. I can't walk in to a client right now. I can call them and touch base. So you can do MiniGames around, if someone has 10% of the market share, they need to make 10% of the calls, you know, set a call. And if everyone reaches that, it all goes into the bucket. Does that help?
Rich Armstrong (29:43): Yeah, absolutely. You know, what's interesting when you said the actions, and I think this needs to be brought out, because it's very, very important with the challenges we have now that there's not a lot of big wins to be created. It is the focus on the actions and the behaviors. And one of the challenges that a lot of companies have with MiniGames is that they often try to focus the MiniGame on some big goal or target rather than focusing it on the behaviors and the actions that are going to create the outcome you want. And that's where we really are right now. And you mentioned like, you know, prospect calls. I mean, if we put a goal out there and put a MiniGame for the next 90 days and said we all have to generate $25,000 in revenue in the next 90 days. Everybody's gonna go, “Yeah, good luck with that.” But if they said we want to make 100 prospecting calls in the next 90 days, that's something you can put some action around, some excitement around, some creation around, and create some small wins. And guess what? Maybe some of those prospecting calls ends up with a $20,000 sale.
Michele Bridges (30:56): Can I—okay. Can I throw out something like what we're seeing right now within our market, within our people? Is it okay if I throw that out right now? Okay. I want you to think about the people. Right now we have some amazing, Great Game companies who are continually—they’re not laying off their people, they're keeping their people and they're finding things for them to do. Dave Scholten was telling me about one of our amazing clients who are keeping all of their people on. They're doing outreach by doing community service, they're paying their people who normally do electrical to go out and serve the community. So by those community hours that is giving them recognition within the community. You can't pay for that. You know, they're visible. Think about Tasty Catering. We have been—we have spent time with Kevin Walter lately. Their operations people are driving around, either following other catering trucks to find out who's still getting catering, or they have a MiniGame going right now about filling the parking lot. They are driving around Chicago, seeing who the essential businesses are, then sending that back to the salespeople to call and say, “Hey, listen, we are part of an organization that is believing in their people, and they are keeping us here. And we want to be here to serve you. We're here. What can we do to make your world easier as your essential business?” Come on!
Steve Baker (32:31): Yeah, I love that. We can provide you know, contact meals and we can do a 24/7 or whatever. Doug just said on the chat, he said to focus on relationship more than sales at this time, which I think is interesting because that's a part of it. Like what Rich was talking about, and let's do an outreach. How do you do one? Is there anything we can do to help? And, you just really reinforced that Michele, and now that's so positive that I'm going to go backwards into negative. Okay, we touched on negativity but right now it's really easy. I mean, I'm on a media diet, you know, I limit what I take in. So I just rely on Joanne to let me know what the world is saying. And apparently the world is imploding at this very moment. So it's all negative. And it's 24/7 and everything. But the thing is, that's what our people are hearing. Jack says, in our morning meetings at 9am, he says, “If it bleeds, it leads.” so none of the good news is bubbling up, right? So, when you think about negativity, we've had a lot of people talking about, asking about, there is no win. So even if we do a MiniGame client outreach, as an example, or filling the parking lot or whatever, there may not be rewards in the traditional sense of bonuses or dollars or that sort of thing. So in the lens of MiniGames, you know, can you talk about that a little bit? How, if there's no win, how do you create a win and if there's no reward, how do you create a reward?
Michele Bridges (33:55): Okay. I want to focus on intrinsic rewards right now. A lot of our people were already moving to intrinsic rewards before. You know, the things that are internal. We're just inspiring people to do what they're great at. Anyway, this is a time to focus on intrinsic rewards. Now, I think I said earlier, where there is a lack of communication, it’s filled up with assumptions, and unfortunately, the new cycle is filling our assumptions and fear up our communication. I appreciate the fact that we may not be getting super cool t-shirts right now or really cool KODI cups or something like that. What I do want to talk about is right now, we have an opportunity to reinforce the needs and the desires and the hopes for the people within our organization, which means we need to be focusing more on communications So, right now, for the negativity, I get it. I don't think any of us are not scared. I don't think any of us—I can tell you I've eaten more sugar in the past two weeks than I have in two years simply because that's my stress mode. Yeah, sorry. It's true. Now, I am also in very close communication with Steve and Rich when I do start getting scared. Here's what I want you to think about. And here's what I want you to challenge—here’s what I want to challenge you to do. I want you to think back to January. And I want you to think back to those moments when you were like, “Oh my gosh, if we only had time I wish we were doing this.”
Steve Baker (35:40): Yeah, baby. Those are the days Mama.
Michele Bridges (35:43): Those were the days, baby, when we were too busy. I want you to think about if we only had time. Could we clean the shop floor? Could we build the shadow wall to hang our tools on? Could we go cross train people? I want you to think about that. And I want you to apply that to a MiniGame to find out. How about you build a MiniGame around finding out your people's dreams? How about you build a MiniGame around the conversations you have with your direct reports? And you ask them, “What's one thing you would change in our company right now? What's one thing that you want to learn professionally? What's one thing you want to learn personally?” Well, I was with Bazen Electric, before all of this happened, and a couple of the people told me they wanted to learn how to juggle. Okay, come on. What if after we get back one of the MiniGame prizes is you bring in someone to teach a team to juggle. How awesome is that?
Steve Baker (36:48): Yes, pretty awesome.
Michele Bridges (36:52): Now, I also spoke with a Claire today and one of her groups they are building a MiniGame around IT response. They have 90 people across the United States. And they have to have their IT going. So what they're doing right now is they're focusing a MiniGame around IT response and using the IT process system. And so instead of emailing and texting the IT people, they're integrating their new IT system. Because they have time.
Rich Armstrong (37:29): Real quick. I want to kind of turn to some Q&A's that we're we have coming in. And I think we got to step back here because again, we have some people that are on that may not be as familiar with MiniGames. And so one of the questions that came in was, you know, what is a MiniGame? Is this training? Is this an involvement activity? Is it a brainstorm session? Let's step back for a second, and can you explain a bit more about what a MiniGame looks like?
Michele Bridges (37:59): Okay, a MiniGame is an opportunity for a small unit, a work group department process to choose one metric to focus on. Wanting to improve customer service. So I had one team that was like, “Great, we're going to work on our phone response time. Picking up the phone.” You laser focus on that for a period of time that you want to improve the process. You want to create a better habit. You want to save money, you want to generate money. Steve had a great MiniGame built around electrical people just collecting their scrap and recycling it so they increase cash flow. So it was the one thing that they wanted to focus on that can be tangible for a smaller workgroup, department or process. We have 10 steps that you follow. They're pretty specific on how you do it and implement it. So I can tell you that overall, when I study brainstorming sessions, this is a great way to laser focus a brainstorming session, and to really focus on one thing. One thing, and you just compete against that and knock the living snot out of it.
Rich Armstrong (39:13): I think it's important to also say that it has all the elements of the Big Game, if they're studying the Big Game, right? It's just a microcosm that there's a common goal, a critical number we're gonna go after, there's a scoreboard, and a way to follow the action and keep score. And then there's a stake in the outcome, right? Prizes and rewards. It's just a microcosm. Those rewards may not be big dollars, especially now. It could be gifts and recognition, all those kinds of things, but it really puts all the Big Game into a small package that you can target all those small wins in the organization. And I think that's why we're talking about it today is that those big wins are probably not going to be there for a while. So how are you going to break that down into small incremental wins? You can find within the organization and get it done now.
Michele Bridges (40:04): Right now, I think one thing that we talked about yesterday, we are looking. We are desperately looking for miracles right now. Yes. Go team.
Steve Baker (40:18): Go team.
Michele Bridges (40:19): Yeah, we are looking for miracles right now. MiniGames are a great way to search for—MiniGames are a great way to find the treasure within our group, the treasure within our organization. It is a great time to dream and learn, which means we're looking forward. So, we're looking forward with hope. We're looking forward with intention on where we want to go. And we are not dwelling on where we are right now.
Steve Baker (40:50): Another good question in the chat there: “How important is it that the players design the MiniGames?”
Michele Bridges (41:01): If you designed a MiniGame for me, and handed it to me and told me that the prize was going to be golf, I would whack you with a Big Bertha club because golf makes me angry. Sorry for anyone that it does. It is imperative that the team builds the Game because people support what they help create. Yeah, that's worth repeating over and over and over again, I bet it's in your book too, Steve. Is it in your book?
Steve Baker (41:29): If only I had one.
Michele Bridges (41:31): I know. If only you had one, no. When the team puts the 10 steps together, when the team decides the objective, they're always going to build it to match what their team can do and wants to do. They're going to build it around a prize that they want. They—I mean, you can't believe how hard we're working to win that “Steve Baker in a kilt” scoreboard. I mean, that is a huge prize for us. Sorry Steve. But, yeah. It is when something is handed down from on high… When something is handed down from someone outside of the department work group process and what you're looking at. The person who's building it up above or outside of that group doesn't understand the nuances that are going on. Only the team that touches the issue can build a Game that is really going to make a difference.
Steve Baker (42:39): Awesome. Thank you.
Rich Armstrong (42:40): Good stuff. You know since we're on the topic of people that are online with us now that aren't fully into the game, can you do this stuff without being completely open-book?
Michele Bridges (42:55): You can. You can. A MiniGame is when you give people ownership over whatever the metric is that you want them to meet. Heck, yeah. You I mean, you can always play a MiniGame. I played MiniGames with my son when he was in high school, as you can build MiniGames at home, so yes, you can if you're not open-book. Now, when you allow people to fill in the spaces with knowledge, there's more power behind the MiniGame, and you just have to communicate. Steve and Rich, do you agree with that?
Steve and Rich (43:33): Yeah. Oh, absolutely.
Michele Bridges (43:35): Okay. Okay. I think the challenge with MiniGames often for practitioners is they start with MiniGames, you know, it's an easy way to get everybody quickly engaged and get everybody experience of what you know, playing the Game looks like, feels like, all the way down to the front line, but they can get a little old and a little repetitive if they haven't been tied to that bigger goal. So if you don't roll that into the Big Game, eventually, people get a little tired of them. So you got to show them the big picture eventually, so they can see how these Games are actually impacting the results of the company.
Michele Bridges (44:12): You know, we have a lot of our clients who specifically build MiniGames, and they specifically require that the MiniGames intentionally I mean, now we recommend it, intentionally touch the critical number. So they do break it down very clearly, you know, we need to meet this critical number. Here's what we would love to see from your group. Tell us how you can do this, you know, and they tie it in that way. So it is important to have one big overriding goal I think, to give us a Northstar, you know companies have, I was talking to Jack one time about vision statements and he's like the critical number is the vision statement that is our Northstar. We are going towards the critical number in order to—that is our story. That is our shining light. That is our that number tells us a million stories in one.
Steve Baker (45:11): So, let's do something that has come from the chat in the Q&A. It's about virtual teams. I would like to say something before I asked that question, though, because there is some chatter going on about, I think some of our viewers might be misunderstanding or not fully understanding what the Great Game is all about. So I would highly recommend that you read our book, Get in the Game. It's a, you know, when you think about scaling up or EOS, we had a couple of comments about other systems and how this would fit nicely in. Absolutely. MiniGames are what a lot of people use for 90 day rocks and focuses and that sort of thing, but I want to be clear that the Great Game of Business is a fully integrated system. And yeah, it is definitely something that EOS can dovetail into or scaling up can dovetail into. Most people look at Great Game of Businesses, the next level of either of those operating systems is where we're really taking it to the people and doing the one thing nobody else does, which is teach everyone in the business how the business makes money, generate cash. So, the question is, we're all virtual. So do you have any inspiration? Do you have any ideas or have you heard any themes or scoreboards, or something, prizes that can help people out? I've even gotten some, some chatter here about, well, maybe people don't, they don't like what we've picked out for them. So there's a couple of questions mixed into that one question. I know you're gonna go back to people support what they help create. So why'd you buy-in prizes, but I'll let you say it.
Michele Bridges (46:55): Okay, I'll be a little more gentle with that. Right now. You know, we had a question. So I'm going to tie it in more with this. We had a question from one of our clients about we have people wanting to opt out of the prizes and just play the Game for fun. Again, that's a communication thing. So at that point, I would say, okay, we want to make sure that we're doing what you want to do. So what would make a difference? Would it be if with your prize is a donation to the Humane Society, to your to your favorite charity? Would it be that we give you discretionary time to go do community service? Would that mean something to you? We have to make sure if there's no buy-in from the frontline, then we've lost something there. And so now there are back ways to get into getting people engaged in a MiniGame. You know, you can do, one best practice that I've seen and I learned this the hard way, is I always leave post-it notes and everyone's table and I like different colors and everything. Well, I noticed that people were hesitant when I would say what's one thing that makes you really angry about your job that you wish you could fix? And people would either not fill it out, or they would fold it up into these little bitty things. So no one else could see what they were saying. So I lay, same color post it notes at everyone's table, and I ask them questions. What are the you know, what makes you mad? What's one thing that you would change if you were the owner? And, what's one opportunity that you think you can follow? And I gave them all the same color post-it notes that elicits ideas and responses and you, you put them up on the wall and you show people how they line up, you categorize them on office supplies.
Steve Baker (48:57): Yeah, you could do it today, virtually, with Survey Monkey or Doodle, or 100 other different things, right? Be anonymous but still get the responses. And I think we have to lead too, right? I mean, we really have to set the tone and say, well, we have a choice. I started out with Viktor Frankl, right? I mean, we have a choice. What are we going to choose to do? This is the last of the human freedoms guys let's choose better. That's very interesting. I like the post-it note idea, just turning it virtual. And some other stuff coming in about you know, you could deliver dinner to their family. We adored that something as a reward. Pretty neat. Pretty neat stuff.
Rich Armstrong (49:37): Hey, there's just another Q&A comment. It says, “We had our first MiniGame and our team rallied and crushed it out of the water. Our prize reward was team building event with food, drinks, and axe throwing. Due to isolation we may rethink that event they said but, again, and I'm guessing that that was probably straight from the people that was playing the Games, this is what we would like to do. I just want to throw out something that I thought was really kind of creative. We have, you know, a gentleman that's on our team, Steve, Michele, Chris, and he's been trying to make sure that we stay connected as we're, you know, remote. And these are recognition events that can be tied to MiniGames but we have a weekly lunch and a weekly happy hour, you know, we have weekly lunch, everybody brings their lunch and we just, you know, do this over Zoom, and then have the weekly happy hour where, you know, everybody brings their own drinks, right? And I just thought it was interesting. I mean, yesterday, what they were doing was bringing their, you know, their each of the pets and they were showing what tricks their pets could do, you know, that kind of stuff. So there's a lot of interesting and fun ways but again, it came from the team wasn't something come down from high it says everybody bring their dog and do tricks because they would probably have bailed quickly.
Michele Bridges (51:00): Yeah, yeah, I can—one of the funniest celebrations that I've ever been part of. I was in San Leandro, California with Peterson Caterpillar. And I'm like, guys, we need to celebrate, you know, they had accomplished some stuff and we need to celebrate. I'm like, “What do you want?” They collectively wanted me to bring Red Bull and ice cream bars. Okay, that made me want to throw up in my mouth. I mean, the thought of mixing those, but they, I mean, they…
Steve Baker (51:26): That is what Red Bull tastes like.
Michele Bridges (51:30): Yeah, I know, right? So, I mean, it was they were eating ice cream and we were sharing the celebration and everything. And I mean, they had a wildly productive afternoon that afternoon, but they chose that. I would have brought in, you know, milk and cookies or something stupid but no, they picked something amazing. So harness the wisdom of you people because your people are the power. There is not a General that goes to war alone.
Steve Baker (51:59): Interesting. I like that. I like that a lot.
Michele Bridges (52:01): He relies on his troops. Yeah. Yeah, you're the power, the ingenuity, they are the treasure.
Steve Baker (52:09): That's wisdom right there. Hey, listen, I hate to be the wet towel. But we have about seven, eight minutes left. And I thought maybe we could reserve a little time to do just sort of a lightning round, mop up the questions that are still hanging out there and, you know, hit any other big issues. Rich, do you have one in particular that you've seen you want to throw in on?
Rich Armstrong (52:32): You know, I think that most of them are just related to what we were talking about. Is that just the challenge of finding the right prizes and rewards and, you know, it seems like that's a running theme. And, I think it’s the challenge is that they're trying to come up with them. You know, we can't give you that answer. But ask your people, “What excites you? What's interesting to you?” and that sort of thing. I really would encourage a lot of that. To brainstorm that. They'll tell you what they enjoy.
Michele Bridges (53:04): Right now do a MiniGame around ideas. You know, “Hey guys, give us some ideas on what some of the prizes are that you want to see in the future.” Again, when I saw at Bezan, what people wanted to learn outside of work, I was so excited about the new things that they want to learn. What if you gave them learning opportunities outside, you know, bring something outside they want to learn to play the ukulele they want to—we can learn a lot about our people, right now, just through conversation.
Steve Baker (53:41): I've got one here from Greg. He says, “We're a consulting firm. We don't really have departments. We've been doing MiniGames around activities that contribute to the critical numbers. Is that appropriate?” I'm like, that's exactly what MiniGames are for. And yes, yes, yes, yes. Yes. I'll even call back to some of the things that have been said earlier, which is, you know, okay, so what Rich just said. People support what they help create. Ask your people what they can do. Work on relationships when sales aren't there. What's the stuff you can do when there's nothing to do? What if you could, you know, right now, we're still I believe, Rich help me out, are we 100% employed, but at SRC, I mean, everybody's still working right? And so what Jack has is a plan, Jack Stack our CEO, is should the government squeeze a little tighter and say we got to close this one, this was not essential, whatever. If people go home, Jack still wants to pay them. But they're going to do training. They're not off. They're still working. So we're gonna make our people better because the upturn is what you got to be thinking about. And as a consulting firm, you need to be thinking about the pent up demand that will come when people come raging back saying, “Man I could really use you.” Better be ready. Better be ready.
Rich Armstrong (54:53): I see one, and you may have touched on this, Steve, but here's another Q&A is from Dirk. “We are an EOS company.” And he was wondering our thoughts on putting GGOB as its own level 10, which is a term that EOS uses a lot for their huddle or meetings, level 10 meetings, but putting GGOB as its own level 10 for the Great Huddle, there's some debate inside the management team. I'm trying to make sure I understand that question correctly. But I think the Great Huddle or our huddle systems are level 10 type meetings. I think probably some of the—so primary difference is that we really try to bring that back to the financial performance of the business. More than metrics driven. It's more around getting a connection, a line of sight from all the things people are doing every day and how that's impacting the financial results, but talk about that in a forward focused fashion. So, there's a lot of similar elements. But the one that comes out that's the primary difference is bring it back to the ultimate goal of driving financial performance from all the all the activities of the of the employees.
Steve Baker (56:20): Yeah, so with the few minutes that we've got left, is it okay, if I throw one more in to the group here? And, this will be the last question. Frank Smith does ask, “Is there a book I can buy that would explain all this to me?” Yes there is, and it's available where all fine books are sold. The question comes from Chelsea. She says, “When we aren't seeing a majority of our company thinking of ideas or designing MiniGames, it's mostly management pushing down ideas, but things aren't really materializing from there. How do you drive MiniGame design and focus from the team without assigning it as a required work task or is it acceptable to require people to play Great Game of Business? And therefore design MiniGames?”
Michele Bridges (57:06): You sneak in on them. Here's what I want you to do. I want you to sneak in on them. Yeah, just like Baker. What I want you to do is, don't say it under the guise of a MiniGame. Tell us one thing you want to fix today, tell us one thing that would make you more productive. Tell us one thing. And just ask their opinion, do it on a survey monkey do it on something, gather those ideas, categorize them into places, then present them back to them say, “Okay, how do you think you would do that? How do you think we could do that?” And then in the back of your mind, have the 10 steps to the MiniGames, walk them through it because I've done that with people who have been hesitant and then when they—when I get them down to about step four, they look at me and they're like, “You got me.” You bring it in backwards
Steve Baker (57:58): And I'd add something to it is, I'm doing a workshop for NCEO, National Center for Employee Ownership, next week with Anne Claire Broughton, and she's doing a whole section on creating a safe space. In other words, if we can't get people to think clearly, it's probably because they're worried about their livelihood. Do what Jack Stack does, focus on people first, get people in a safe space, you're going to be safe and healthy here. We're going to help you take care of things at home so you can protect the four walls, then creativity emerges.
Guys, I really want to thank you so much. I know that I've done it a lot, but I just found out that with every purchase of Great Game and when you write a review, there's a Great new bookmark available. But there's something else that we really do want to share seriously. And that is, there's been a lot of questions that are asking the right questions. I want you to think about looking at the MiniGame kit. And we'll make that available on the site. It's on there now on our e-commerce, greatgame.com. Look for products. It's the MiniGame toolkit includes the 10 step design process, examples and ideas, tips for effective MiniGames, MiniGame design template and the 14-point checklist for a Great MiniGame, all that can be delivered virtually so you don't have to worry about—Yeah, “go team” is right. You don't have to worry about, “Do I have to go out and get that?”
Finally, Michele, what a great guest and what a great sidekick. Thank you so much. Rich, as always, I appreciate your insight and knowledge. Let's keep the conversation going, guys. Send us your questions, your ideas, your challenges, your victories, we want you to remember one thing and that is: you are not alone. We're going to get through this together. That's what community does. So Rich and I are committed to continue to bring this community together each week as we navigate through these chaotic times. And that's all we've got time for but thanks so much, guys. We really appreciate it.
Rich Armstrong (59:55): Thank you, Steve. Thank you Michele.
Michele Bridges (59:58): Thank you. Thank you.