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All-Star Case Studies

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Springfield Spring

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Company Background

Founded in 1942, Springfield Spring Corp., an award-winning minority-owned business, makes precision-engineered springs, stampings and assemblies for clients in many industries, including aerospace, automotive, electronics and medical devices. With 42 associates in two plants (total manufacturing space: 23,000 square feet) the $7-million, New England-based company has been playing its own Great Game since 2003.

Great Game Solutions

At the outset, SSC’s managers developed a P&L scoreboard and did line-of-sight training to help associates see the connections between their job and the key numbers: sales, profit, throughput, inventory, shipping and so on. They also set up the communication and incentive systems they use today. Everyone attends weekly unit huddles and the companywide All-Hands-on-Deck meeting to review and forecast the financials. “Power buckets” of bonus dollars are shared when SSC meets its pretax profit and cash goals on time. Teams participate in annual planning and play MiniGames to eliminate bottlenecks and to support lean-manufacturing initiatives. “We’ve drawn a direct connection between our Kaizen events and lowering our cost of goods sold,” President Norm Rodriques says.

Ongoing financial and cultural education is entertaining and rewarding. Associates play rounds of Quality Bingo to minimize customer returns. Players draw numbers on days with no returns, and winners receive $50. They play spirited games of SSC Jeopardy! to enhance financial and cultural intelligence. Pizza is delivered whenever the company reaches 90 days without a lost-time accident. And every month crisp $100 bills, lottery tickets or gas cards are handed out when shipping targets are hit—and an extra $20 is presented to those who read and critique a specific business-literacy book at the monthly business-game meeting.

Thus far, SSC has made steady, impressive financial gains. For the past five years, annual sales and profit growth have averaged 10% and 36%, respectively. Rodriques stresses that The Game has been indispensable during the recent economic crisis. “At the end of 2008, we were able to maintain collections in excess of 98% receivables,” he says.

And the company’s cultural turnaround has been extraordinary. “Our culture was complacent, but now it’s energetic,” reports Ric Craig, SSC’s lead player-coach. “The Game has empowered us to be responsible, to take charge of our company and our lives. It rewards good behavior immediately and encourages employee-driven continuous improvement. That’s how we’ve changed our culture for the better.”

RESULTS

  • Sales growth: 11% ’06; 10% in ’07; -.4% in ’08. Forecast for ’09: 13%.
  • Sales per employee: Has increased by 53% since Game launch in ’03.
  • Mini-games: Improved shipping and reduced office costs and lost-time accidents. Customer returns were cut in half. Games designed for Kaizen events trimmed COGS. Educational challenges teach key success drivers and job responsibilities.  
  • Bonus pool: Has grown by almost 20% per year for the past 3 years. Distributed $60,000 in ’08. Forecast for ’09: $120,000.