The Great Game of Business: Rapid Financial Results, Lasting Cultural Change
In our most recent coach webinar, Vice-President Steve Baker presented the history of The Great Game of Business and its role in modern business. Based on Jack Stack’s best-selling book, The Great Game of Business is a unique and well-proven methodology for running a business that emphasizes the importance of team involvement.
As CEO of SRC Holdings Corporation in Springfield, Missouri, Stack put his company on the map when he successfully used unconventional methods to save his failing business. He encouraged his team members to view the business as a game – a game with rules, winners, losers, and consequences. The concept was to teach employees about the business in a way that made them feel productive, valued, and accountable, focusing them on the company’s success. In The Great Game, employee goals and accountabilities are tied directly to the success of the business. It teaches all employees the “critical numbers” of the company and how they can make a difference – both individually and as part of a team.
The game was a success – and the employee-owned SRC Holdings is still going strong over 30 years later.
The game concept arose from the need to create a fun and creative way for employees to get involved in the functions of the business. When employees feel like owners, they begin to think and act like owners. Building this culture of ownership is key to aligning your team members – getting them to speak and understand the same language, and aim at the same goal. However, the game must be played with key principles in mind to stay on track.
The principles are centered on factors that determine your critical number: education, accountability, and incentives.
Education: Know and teach the rules of the game. If you don’t understand the rules, there is no way you can win. Baker said, “Transparency without education is useless.”
Accountability: Follow the action and keep score. Understand that your actions today affect the results of tomorrow. Begin forecasting your numbers each week to obtain a grasp on how your numbers fluctuate and how you can keep them on track.
Incentives: Provide a stake in the outcome. Learn to differentiate between your short term, mid term, and long term goals, and help employees understand they are essential to reaching these goals.
Long-term, the game helps people gain respect for the company and for themselves as partial owners. For smaller businesses with fewer employees, implementing these habits now will help guide your business in the right direction as it scales. Establishing and maintaining this kind of inclusive company culture is key to driving success on all levels.