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The Great Game of Business: Unlocking the Power and Profitability of Open-Book Management Paperback – October 1, 1994

4.5 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"This is the  brilliant story of the most radical act committed by a  businessman in this century. You can't run or manage  your business the old way once you read  The Great Game." -- Paul Hawken

From the Publisher

In the early 1980s, Springfield Remanufacturing Corporation (SRC) in Springfield, Missouri, was a near bankrupt division of International Harvester. That's when a green young manager, Jack Stack, took over and turned it around. He didn't know how to "manage" a company, but he did know about the principal, of athletic competition and democracy: keeping score, having fun, playing fair, providing choice, and having a voice. With these principals he created his own style of management -- open-book management. The key is to let everyone in on financial decisions. At SRC, everyone learns how to read a P&L -- even those without a high school education know how much the toilet paper they use cuts into profits. SRC people have a piece of the action and a vote in company matters. Imagine having a vote on your bonus and on what businesses the company should be in. SRC restored the dignity of economic freedom to its people. Stack's "open-book management" is the key -- a system which, as he describes it here, is literally a game, and one so simple anyone can use it. As part of the Currency paperback line, the book includes a "User's Guide" -- an introduction and discussion guide created for the paperback by the author -- to help readers make practical use of the book's ideas. Jack Stack is the president and CEO of the Springfield Remanufacturing Corporation, in Springfield, Missouri. The recipient of the 1993 Business Enterprise Trust Award, Jack speaks throughout the country on The Great Game Of Business and Open Book Management.

"This is the brilliant story of the most radical act committed by a businessman in this century. You can't run or manage your business the old way once you read The Great Game." -- Paul Hawken


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Currency/ Doubleday (October 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038547525X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385475259
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #751,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
All games have rules. When the score is kept, there are winners and losers. Business is no different. The concept of open-book management has been around since some company owner in the distant past gathered employees and attempted to explain to them why it is so important to produce quality work, on time and without waste. No doubt at least one of those employees wondered "What's in it for me?" Good question.
With contributions by Bo Burlingham, Stack wrote this book (first published in 1992) partly in response to that question. He introduces "The Higher Laws of Business":
1. You get what you give.
2. Its easy to stop one guy, but it's pretty hard to stop 100.
3. What goes around comes around.
4. You do what you gotta do.
5. You gotta wanna.
6. You can sometimes fool the fans, but you can never fool the players.
7. When you raise the bottom, the top rises.
8. When people set their own targets, they usually hit them.
9. If nobody pays attention, people stop caring.
10. As they say in Missouri: Shit rolls downhill. By which we mean change begins at the top.
To these Stack adds "The Ultimate Higher Law": When you appeal to the highest level of thinking, you get the highest level of performance. These are the eleven laws on which Stack's system of open-book management is based. He explains each in thorough detail. Let's say that you agree that these laws make sense, that they are relevant to your own organization. Now what?
Pretend that you have entered "Stack's Open-Book Management Store." He greets you at the door. For the next several hours, he guides you through an abundance of strategies, tactics, measurement instruments, communication devices, policies, procedures, etc. He answers all of your questions.
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Format: Paperback
Employers are increasingly challenged to find ways to engage their people, to inspire and motivate them, and to encourage them to stay with the organization for an extended period of time. Employers who can be successful in attaining these lofty goals can dominate their markets, drive more money to the bottom line, and enjoy a stable, productive, and happy workforce.
Jack Stack and his associates at Springfield Remanufacturing Corporation learned how to do this. It was a fascinating, educational, and sometimes painful journey, with benefits that exceeded the wildest dreams of those who put the plan together and made it work. The secret? Share numbers with your employees. All the numbers that have meaning-from profit and loss to balance sheet, from sales projections to costing standards. The concept is that the more employees know-and understand, the more they will partner and support the company's mission and goals (which they also help set).
The most vital issue here, I think, is that every employee becomes more educated, more involved, more committed, and-end result-more loyal. They become a part of a team, rather than just workers. No longer is their relationship with the employer "just a job." It's now considerably more, as they participate in the decisions that drive the company's success. When employees are motivated this way and have so much more control over vital aspects of their employment lives, they will stay longer with their employer. There are more reasons to stay than to leave. Result: a substantially more stable, dedicated, and effective workforce.
The book begins with a "Players Guide," a chapter-by-chapter outline of what will be covered. By itself, this guide is a valuable tool to stimulate thinking.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We have been a GGOB practitioner for 18 years. And it was one of our companies top 5 best discoveries.

Jack Stack's Company is in the business of re-manufacturing engines (they sell a product). My concern was how could we make Open Book Management principles work in a service business. In the early months, we adopted Jack's three cornerstones: 1) Know the rules of the game: Create a written business plan, and involve all employees in the annual business planning process. 2) Keep score: Produce monthly financial statements, and teach all employee how to read the P&L. 3) What's in it for me: When the company wins, pay employees Gainsharing checks each quarter. Plus we adopted Jacks meeting schedule: Managers attend weekly Great Huddle Meetings, and all employees attend Chalk Talk meetings. These meetings are designed to inform and keep the team on track with our business plan.

Results? We found Open Book Management works very well in a service business. In fact, it completely changed our culture and our employees love it. Over the years, we have had a few employee leave and take jobs with other companies. But after a few months, some of them return saying they missed our culture and playing the GGOB. I strongly recommend and endorse the GGOB.

It changed our organization... Who knows... It might change yours too!

Daryl Flood, President & CEO
Daryl Flood Relocation & Logistics

The Great Game of Business, Expanded and Updated: The Only Sensible Way to Run a Company
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