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2021 Case Study - Ingenium

Escondido, CA

2020 Revenues:
$24.5 million

Employees: 88

Critical Numbers™: Profit

Organization Background

Founded in 2006, Ingenium is a leading provider of hazardous waste transportation and environmental management that focuses on innovative and sustainable waste management solutions. They are well known in the industry for their accountability, uncompromising integrity and excellent customer service. Ingenium is passionate about its mission of “We Care for Your World” and inspires a corporate culture for employees to embrace the company’s core values of compassion, fun, humility, innovation, integrity and safety.


As Ingenium grew as a business, CEO Heather Johnson recognized that the five partners who founded the firm couldn’t continue to make all the decisions. “We needed to engage more than just the founders if we wanted to grow,” she says.


Johnson, who has a passion for company culture, began searching for a solution to the growth constraint. She found the answer when she heard Steve Baker speak about The Great Game of Business® (GGOB) at an Inc. Magazine conference. Intrigued by what she heard, she and several members of the leadership team attended the GGOB conference in 2018. While they liked what they heard, they also weren’t sure how to get started. That’s when they got the simple advice: “Hire a coach.” Ingenium decided to move forward and hired coach, Jack O’Riley. They kicked off playing the Game in January 2020—right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.


In the three years prior to embracing GGOB, net profits at Ingenium averaged 3%. In 2020, less than two years after launching GGOB, the company’s net profit more than doubled to 7%, despite all the challenges that the pandemic presented. Thanks to  GGOB, Ingenium became much more creative in finding ways to impact the Critical Number by generating revenue and cutting costs. “GGOB has provided a level of transparency that allows employees to understand how they can individually support and impact the company and their stake in the outcome,” says Johnson. “We now have more engagement and participation from all our employees due to their newly learned financial literacy.”

“GGOB has brought transparency and accountability to the entire company. It has allowed us to work together to monitor and revise certain practices to affect the bottom line and the stake in the outcome. It has encouraged everyone at Ingenium to think like an owner.”

~ Pamela Blair, Marketing Manager

Spotlight on the Pandemic

Johnson says GGOB could not have been implemented at a better time. “It set us up to have effective communication even when the pandemic hit,” she says. “If we weren’t playing GGOB and talking about the impact to the business, I’m not sure how productive our team conversations would have been. It would have been chaotic to not have the cadence of the Huddles to rely on. That helped us build credibility and trust with the team.” The Ingenium team has made further progress in their Huddles by changing up ownership of lines and Huddle leaders to help further educate the team members about the business. It has also helped improve the accuracy of their forecasts and understanding of the costs of their different service lines. We used to run the business from the rearview mirror,” says Johnson. “When something worked, no one knew why. Now we’re finding ways to drill down into our cost of goods sold and understand better how to project those forward.”

MiniGame™ Spotlight

The Ingenium team has experienced great success by using MiniGames to generate revenues or save costs that have collectively made a big impact on the Critical Number and the stake in the outcome bonus. They’ve also used MiniGames to drive communication to the frontline employees—many of whom work in the field. For example, communication to the Operations Team suffered because they were working out of the office without access to a computer. To address this problem, the Operations Team conducted a successful Easter Egg Hunt-themed MiniGame whose objective was simply to get frontline associates to read their email via their company-issued mobile phones. By clicking on a link in the designated email, they opened up an Easter Egg which was recorded to determine the success of the game.

“GGOB has brought financial literacy and ownership to the workplace. Employees come to me with the understanding of how to affect the bottom line and understand that their overtime or projected expenses affects the whole company.”

~ Craig Eide, Location Manager, Portland Branch

What’s Next

Ingenium has already implemented a 2021 plan to change their GGOB Design Team to include a new group of middle level managers and operations personnel. They will learn how they can effectively encourage engagement and communicate down to the front line. “A fresh set of eyes will provide additional perspective and give people an opportunity to drive a major initiative for the company and further push ownership throughout the organization,” says Johnson. The Ingenium team is also continuing to invest in teaching their associates financial literacy by making GGOB training part of the onboarding process for new employees and encouraging employees to connect the lessons learned through GGOB to their personal lives at home.


“GGOB has made my job easier since a common language and common goal is driving the direction of the company. GGOB has affected the culture in a positive way—increased work satisfaction, greater employee engagement through gamification, increased accountability and ownership.”

~ Gigi Bealkowski, Compliance Director





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