KAAPKE Holding is currently organizing its business model into two operating subsidiaries: KAAPKE Strategie GmbH and KAAPKE Marketing GmbH. They are a leading brand developing company in Germany, specializing in working for companies in the “German Mittelstand.” The company develops strategies for brand positioning, brand-conforming design, and communication campaigns.
Founder Timo Kaapke wanted to create a framework that allowed everyone inside the business to be able to make decisions as independently and as decentralized as possible—which he hoped would result in more decisions made better and more rapidly.
Having tried numerous individual solutions, consultancy, training, and tools, Kaapke realized that his organization needed an operating system that would create the framework for successfully connecting different challenges, goals, and aspirations—both culturally and financially. The answer he came upon was to embrace The Great Game of Business® (GGOB), which the team treated like playing the sport of soccer, where everyone needed to learn the rules, follow the action, and share in A Stake in the Outcome®.
Since 2016, when Kaapke introduced Great Game™ to his team, what they internally call “Scoreboard Management®,” everyone has begun to think more entrepreneurially, where employees take responsibility for their decisions while thinking and working autonomously. As a result, productivity increased because everyone in the team knows at all times what the score is and what contribution they can make to improve it. Kaapke has been particularly proud that the team has not only embraced transparency and ownership of their financials, but they’ve also fulfilled the organizational philosophy of: “Growing together every day.”
“Everyone has the opportunity to see the big picture. What effect does my work have on the company and the overall result? Thanks to transparency, everyone at KAAPKE can see where the company actually stands. Everyone takes on more responsibility and contributes valuable ideas to playfully improve the overall situation. This not only motivates, but it is also great fun.”
~ Marc Kathmann, Chief Operating Officer
Spotlight on the Pandemic
Kaapke says that playing Great Game and open-book management has been especially valuable during the coronavirus pandemic. He made the early decision to send his employees to work from home—which they greatly appreciated. They shifted from monthly to weekly virtual all-team huddles. “Those huddles helped make sure that all of our employees understood what decisions we were making and why we were making them,” says Kaapke, adding that he didn’t have to lay off any employees. “That helped keep everyone motivated even with all the bad news around us.” That included several new employees who had been hired right before the pandemic hit. “Because we teach financial literacy as part of our onboarding program,” says Kaapke, “We could have high level professional dialog even with our young employees. We didn’t have to slow down for anyone.”
Over the first quarter of 2019, employees logged 30 percent more sick days compared to the previous three years. So, they built a 12-week MiniGame called “Health Angels” to help educate employees on topics like healthy nutrition and exercise. Each employee shared his or her personal success stories with the team during their huddles—and they were rewarded fitness points for talking a walk or eating a healthy meal.
“We work more independently and are not afraid to make decisions independently and carefully. Teamwork has become more effective and coordination among them works even better. Because we all know what we're doing and what we're working towards. And with great pleasure!”
~ Inga Bröggelhoff, Copywriter
To get even better at playing The Game, the next step for KAAPKE will be to continue to focus on teaching GGOB to new employees—as well as to fine-tune their High-Involvement Planning™ process. The company, which might be the first to embrace The Game in Germany, has become something of an ambassador to other organizations who want to learn more about open-book management. “People have begun to take notice of our performance,” says Kaapke. “I spoke to another German CEO and he told me that he has never seen another agency run the way ours is. We are the only agency in Germany using transparency and gamification to build trust and value for our employees. We’re very proud to be a pioneer.”
“The Great Game of Business has had a very positive impact on the company's culture. Because everyone knows at all times what the company represents, we can all work together to achieve our goals. Especially now in the Corona crisis, the concept is extremely valuable. When I imagine that in other companies, no one knows how the company is doing in such difficult times, I'm glad that I'm currently working at KAAPKE and that I'm always kept up to date with the GGOB concept.”
~ Sönke Tempel, Brand Consulting