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Goodall Homes, a residential home-building company based outside Nashville, Tennessee, wanted to run a leaner and more agile company. They also wanted to find a way to teach their team the discipline to look ahead and take advantage of downturns in the housing market.
Goodall Homes turned to The Great Game of Business in 2006 after reading Jack Stack’s book, which everyone in the company discussed through weekly book club-style meetings. The first big step in implementing The Game was the decision to share the company’s results, good or bad, with every employee as a way to build trust. They also created a Stake in the Outcome bonus program tied to the company’s net profits to get everyone working together toward a common goal.
Playing the Game Together
By engaging the entire company in the planning process each year, Goodall Homes continually puts itself in a position to take advantage of market conditions other builders might be missing out on. For example, while so many similar firms were retrenching during the Great Recession, Goodall Homes bought desirable properties it might not otherwise have been able to acquire. The company is reaping the profits from those acquisitions today. By taking advantage of market forecast conditions and key drivers of the housing market like interest rates, the company took a different path in the kinds of houses it constructs compared to some of its competition. For example, rather than aiming to build larger and more expensive houses, Goodall Homes targeted building mid-tier homes, which turn over more quickly and are far less effected by swings in the market. “We’re always looking toward what the next change in the market might be so we can be there prior to the rest of the market,” says Goodall. “I like the way our team thinks so far ahead into the future.”
Rapid Financial Results & Lasting Cultural Change
When the company first implemented The Game, it came as a shock to many employees – some of whom quickly saw themselves as fish out of water. That led to some attrition in the staff but also, more importantly, gave Goodall Homes the opportunity to hire people who believed in the kind of culture they were building. “We look for people who want to be business leaders because that’s what we turn everyone into,” says Goodall Jr.
- While the company failed to meet the goals of its bonus plans until 2010, it successfully weathered the economic storm by growing 20% to 40% every year since – including a 52% year-over-year jump in profits in 2014.
- Those kinds of results have helped the company earn the prestigious honor from Professional Builder Magazine as its National Builder of the Year in 2014.
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