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2020 Case Study - Dragon Army

Location:
Atlanta, GA

2019 Revenues:
$5.3
million

Employees: 23

Critical Number™: Labor Ratio

dragon army-1

Organization Background

Dragon Army is a purpose-driven digital-engagement company that counts multiple big-name organizations like The Home Depot, The Coca-Cola Company, Delta Air Lines, Krystal, Chick-fil-A, and The American Cancer Society among its clients. The business was founded in 2013 by serial entrepreneur Jeff Hilimire as a mobile game studio, then pivoted to become a digital agency specializing in mobile and web applications.

Challenge

Build and nurture a culture of camaraderie and teamwork that could scale along with the company and a place where everyone who contributed to the success of the organization would benefit from that success. “I loved being on a team,” says Hilimire, a standout tennis player in college. “I wanted to find a way in business where we could also compete and win or lose together.”

Solution

Embrace the principles and practices of The Great Game of Business® (GGOB) and empower the agency’s employees to participate in what they now call, “The Great Game of Dragon Army.”

Results 

Four years after implementing GGOB, Dragon Army has doubled its year-over-year profitability. Perhaps more importantly, the team has developed a sense of ownership in the business and an understanding of how they can contribute as individuals to the success of the team as a whole. “Sharing and being open and honest are not always common traits in leadership,” says Hilimire. “But after reading Jack Stack’s book, I recognized that these are the principles that build trust and empowers the team to come up with solutions.”

In a former company that he scaled up, Hilimire saw that as companies grew larger, they lost that sense of teamwork that often comes from within a startup. But, by playing GGOB, he thinks he’s found a sustainable solution to fostering the kind of healthy teamwork and competitiveness he experienced on the tennis court. “We are in this together,” he says. “People want this—especially younger people searching for a purpose. When you can combine purpose with GGOB, you can build anything. I will never run a business again without a version of The Great Game of Business.”


“From a cultural standpoint, GGOB has really united the team. There is a feeling of ‘we're all in this together,’ and the idea that we win (or lose) as a team makes all the difference. We're better able to see where there are gaps, which fosters hand-raising to help and greater employee engagement. I sit on the Growth Team and the financial literacy I’ve gained through being able to know exactly how much revenue and profit we need to bring in per quarter to be healthy has helped me to drive sales—and, ultimately, growth for the company.”

~ Jessica Carruth, Director, Marketing & PR


Spotlight on the Pandemic

The Dragon Army team was able to quickly shift to working remotely in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. By continuing their weekly huddle meetings, and seeing the numbers, the team was able to remove fear and anxiety about where things stood. “I can’t imagine going through this without GGOB,” says Hilimire, noting that the company’s products are relatively recession-proof. While the team had some degree of experience with remote work before the pandemic, they immediately recognized the benefits of working from home—particularly in the amount of commute time it saved its associates. “We realized that employees were spending up to eight hours a week in their cars,” says Hilimire. “That got us thinking about what it might mean if people spent less time in the office.”


“GGOB has really impacted the way Dragon Army approaches almost every problem as a company. The weekly huddle helps every single employee understand our current financial situation, and how they can impact it. The MiniGames help us to refine our processes and stay motivated. After working in this culture, I would never want to go back to a workplace where I don't have access to this type of information.”

~ Erica Warhaftig, VP of Strategy and User Experience


MiniGame™ Spotlight

As part of Dragon Army’s overarching content strategy, Hilimire has written two leadership books (and is working on a third). When his first book, The 5-Day Turnaround, was published in July 2019, Dragon Army started a MiniGame to help promote the launch. The game’s goals were to hit “Best-Selling Author” status on Amazon, sell 2,000 books within the launch year, and drive future book sales and awareness of the business via book speaking engagements and workshops. In April 2020, the book made Amazon’s best-seller list and sales have already topped 2,000 copies. The book’s success has also helped Dragon Army land speaking opportunities with IHG, State Farm, The Weather Channel, and RXBAR, among others.

What’s Next

One of the team’s goals for 2020 is for the entire company to read The Great Game of Business as part of its effort to establish a “Jr. Leadership Team” that will surface new and innovative ideas. The team has also targeted improving its Dragon Army Scorecard, making it more actionable by incorporating real-time charts and graphs. Hilimire also started a philanthropic platform called “Ripples of Hope,” which exists to help non-profits and purpose-driven small businesses in Atlanta grow with the help of GGOB.


“GGOB has made me think much differently about the transparency offered within my company and how other companies should strive for the same. It has highlighted value in the numbers that I always knew existed but never really considered in a way that I could impact them directly. I really value the financial learnings I've gained from having this as part of the foundation of my company.”

~ Kelsey Calhoun, Sr. Project Manager