Although Gary Reynolds may not have known it at the time, the way in which he ran his business made for a solid foundation in implemented the strategies outlined in Jack Stack’s The Great Game of Business.
Reynolds says he has always been an open door, so to speak, when it comes to running Reynolds Farm Equipment, the 2018 Farm Equipment Dealership of the Year. Click here for the full article. So long an employee was interested in seeing the company’s financials, he would show them the books.
“I’ve been an open book person, if you come to me,” says Reynolds. “There wasn’t anybody that didn’t know. I was open door, open book.”
Jon Schwander, CFO of Reynolds Farm Equipment, was uneasy with this open-door policy at first, which is how he stumbled upon The Great Game of Business in the first place. (Click here to read "Growing the Business Through Financial Literacy") A public accountant before he joined Reynolds 5 years ago, he was shocked with how transparent the company owner was.
“When I started, the transparency Gary had was weird to me,” Schwander recalls. “You know, every business system you can have security levels and certain people can see whatever. [Reynolds] was fully open, everybody could see everything. I was like, ‘this is odd.’
“... So I Googled ‘open business management,’ trying to bring something back to these guys and say, ‘Hey, this isn’t how we should do it.’ And I found a book that said, ‘No, this is how we should do it.’ That was really where it was borne out of.”
What is The Great Game of Business?
The Great Game of Business was started by Jack Stack, the founder, president and CEO of SRC Holdings Corp. Stack, along with 12 business partners bought the failing remanufacturing division of International Harvester in Springfield, Mo., and formed SRC (Springfield Remanufacturing Corp.). With a debt-to-equity ratio of 89-to-1 and hundreds of jobs on the line, Stack decided to turn the business into a game using what they called open book management. He later coined this management style as “The Great Game of Business.”
According to The Great Game of Business, “Treating business as if it were a game was not our way of trivializing business. Rather, it was a way to explain business in the most simple and unintimidating way possible, get everyone on the same ‘playing field’ and tap into the universal human desire to win.”
Stack’s book explains how the concept works by breaking things down by these three broad categories: Know & Teach the Rules; Follow the Action & Keep Score; and Provide a Stake in the Outcome.A full explanation of how the Great Game of Business says it works can be found here.
After reading through the whole book in one night, Schwander brought the idea to Chris O’Neal, Reynolds’ COO. It didn’t take long for the rest of the executive team to get on board with the ideas it outlined.
In implementing Jack Stack’s practices at Reynolds Farm Equipment, the executive team created a scorecard containing various business metrics they wished to improve for the quarter. Each store competes with others by attempting to make the biggest improvements to their own scores.
Leadership limits the scorecard to 16 metrics, and swaps out some metrics each quarter. They also spend a lot of time preparing and tracking the scorecard — at least eight days each month, they say.
Reynolds found success with the scorecard after six months of attempting (and failing) to implement it in store, O’Neal says.
“The biggest thing for us was patience, and the more people that you have read the book, so they know what it’s about; I would say that was probably one of the biggest things at the beginning that we didn’t do was get enough copies out,” he says.
Every new employee is now handed a copy of the book. Click here for a video about The Great Game of Business.
“And then of course, once a year now for the last couple years, everything but the company’s net profit has been laid out,” says Reynolds. “All the gross margin expectations for every month, sales, everything is laid out. There’s nothing hidden and we don’t want it hidden. And they’ve responded with confidentiality, which has been nice.”