BI 216: Want to Play a Game? How We Are Starting to Implement the Great Game of Business In My eCommerce Company

BI 216: Want to Play a Game? How We Are Starting to Implement the Great Game of Business In My eCommerce Company

Now that my eCommerce company has hit the seven figure mark in annual revenue, and we have some staff on board, I thought it was important to start focusing on creating a culture of ownership and to accomplish this, I have decided that we are going to start playing the Great Game of Business.

The goal of the great game is to help a corporation to avoid many of the common challenges that a part of running a business in the traditional way (top-down autocratic leadership).

Instead, by using the Great Game, the goal is to teach employees about business so that they have a much better understanding of how the company makes money, how their job contributes to that, and how their contribution can lead to increased profits for the company – and bonuses for themselves!

If you have never heard of the Great Game, the back story is impressive. Just watch the video below.

If employees can learn how a business operates, and how it makes money, then they begin to think and act like business people themselves – and the results are absolutely astonishing.

How to Implement the Great Game of Business

Implementing the Great Game of Business (GGOB) is not something that is done over a weekend.

Instead, it requires a consistent effort over a 6 to 12 month period of time. Does that mean that you won’t see results before 12 months? Heck no!

According to the teachers of the GGOB, results can and should be expected within the first 90 days, so long as you follow their implementation guide – which we are definitely planning to do.

In our case, the implementation started with me reading the book (I actually listened to it on Audible at 2x speed on my drive to and from our office) and then starting the weekly huddle.

The GGOB Process

Much like playing a board game, the GGOB requires you to know the rules and keep score if you want to win.

If you want your employees to help you win, they also need to understand the rules of the game so that they can follow the action and keep score – and share in the winnings!

Great Game of Business Process

  1. Every employee should be given the measures of business success and taught to understand them: Know and Teach the Rules
  2. Every employee should be expected and enabled to act on his or her knowledge to improve performance: Follow the Action and Keep Score
  3. Every employee should have a direct stake in the company’s success and risk of failure: Provide a Stake in the Outcome

The Weekly Huddle

The weekly huddle is the heart of the GGOB. This is the once per week meeting where everyone shares their numbers, see the scoreboards, and understand how much progress has (or hasn’t) been made.

As of this writing, we have completed our first weekly huddle, and I’m happy to say that it went quite well.

The goal of our first weekly huddle was to review the findings from the GGOB input survey (provided when you buy the book), assess the greatest threats to our business, and then determine our Critical Number.

I’m going to write a lot more about our weekly huddles, so if you don’t want to miss out on future posts/podcasts, be sure to become a subscriber using the form at the bottom of this post.

The Critical Number

Selection of your Critical Number is critical! (as the name suggests, lol)

Fortunately, the book and associated resources made this reasonably easy for us to do.

In fact, it was downright simple because our “weakness” was the exact same weakness that was described in the practitioner’s story that is in the back of the book.

In case you are wondering, in our case, the “weakness” is that one of our suppliers represents 40% of our gross profits. I don’t want to disclose the name of this brand, so let’s just call them ABC Co.

While winning the ABC Co account has awesome, if we ever lost it, we’d immediately go from nicely profitable to losing money! (Trent’s rule #1: don’t lose the money)

As a result of agreeing (as a team) that losing ABC Co was the single greatest threat to our business, we quickly agreed that our critical number should be Non-ABC Co Gross Profit.

In other words, we needed to put all of our focus on increasing our gross profits from accounts (new and existing) that are not ABC Co.

Make sense?

Our Critical Numer

To make it measurable on a weekly basis, we came up with an actual dollar figure of Non-ABC Co Gross Profit that we needed to achieve within the next 90 days. That way, if we lost the account, we’d only go from wildly profitable back down to just nicely profitable.

We then created a mini-game so that each and every employee (via the weekly huddle and scorecards) would know exactly how much progress we have (or haven’t) made towards our goal.

Create Early Wins With the Mini-Game

Earlier in this post, I said that it will take us 6 to 12 months to fully implement the GGOB and I also said that you should expect to see results much sooner so that you keep everyone engaged.

The mini-game is how this is accomplished.

Just like the full game, the mini-game has a goal, rules, scorecards, and a reward for winning. Mini-games are usually focused on an operational or financial number that are “drivers” of the company-wide Critical Number.

In our case, we decided to design our mini game to focus on the Critical Number itself. Time will tell if this was the right decision of not.

Sidenote: I’m writing these posts as we go through our GGOB implementation experience, so, my beloved reader, you should expect that we are going to make mistakes!

For a mini-game to be successful, it needs to:

  1. Have a name
  2. Have a goal (X to Y by when)
  3. Estimate of the benefit ($14K in new Non-ABC Co Gross Profit)
  4. Identify the players (those who can impact the goal)
  5. Determine the time frame (long enough to change the desired behavior)
  6. Create a theme and build a scoreboard (be creative!)
  7. Decide on the reward (think low on cash, high on memorable fun)

West Paw Case Study

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