Do a Leadership Checkup

Leadership. What the heck is leadership anyway? And why should a small business owner care?

Some folks use the word “leadership” as a synonym for influence. Let’s expand that definition to include a couple of other important activities:

  • Influence
  • Setting the example
  • Removing obstacles for your people

This is not an all-encompassing definition of leadership. Volumes have been written on the subject. In a small business setting, though, it’s good to have a simple, common-sense approach to things so let’s focus on these three attributes.

Influence

There are many kinds of influence. A screaming child in a restaurant is influencing the embarrassed parents.

You can use various types of influence over your staff. But we’re not talking about domination. Of course your position of authority is real so you can’t (and wouldn’t want to) turn that off. But how about simply asking your team – individually and collectively – to deliver the desired behavior?

Years ago, I had two employees who became hostile toward each other after a previously harmonious working relationship. It was jarring for their team members, because they both were considered friendly and easy-going. Quickly it became apparent that this wasn’t going away.

Sitting down with both of them, I pointed out that they likely spend more time at work than with their own families, and a troubled relationship affected everyone around them. They got it, and all returned to normal soon after that.

But it’s not always that easy. A similar situation later erupted with two other employees, and it required more firm and direct language: “You don’t have to like each other but you must work together in a professional and congenial way. Otherwise one or both of you will have to leave.”

You’ll develop your own style over time, but don’t shy away from issues in your business – deal with them directly and quickly.

Checkup:

  • Do you avoid issues or deal with them promptly?
  • What past problems could have been avoided, and what current issues could be solved via a dose of influence?

Setting the Example

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Nothing will spoil your good leadership efforts faster than “do as I say and not as I do.” This doesn’t mean you have to become “one of the guys” but know this: Your people watch you like a hawk. Model the behaviors you ask of your team.

Checkup:

  • Are you a stellar model for your team? If not, in what areas do you need to improve?

Removing obstacles for your people

As the business owner, you’re the main resource provider. Here’s a good way to find out what obstacles are in your team’s way: Ask ‘em.

How about having your employees create a “Stop Doing” list, or a “Hassles” log? What resources do they need? What procedures are outdated?

Checkup:

  • Are you fully aware of obstacles and resource shortcomings in your operation?
  • Do you have a plan for addressing them?

Be a leader

So, a simple formula for small business leadership includes using your influence to promptly deal with problems, setting the example and removing obstacles. Let me know if you’ve got more to add to the formula.

No Sweat Compensation Planning

You’re sitting in your office, and like most business owners, you’re up to your elbows in a variety of challenges and opportunities. Suddenly, one of your employees appears at your door and asks the dreaded question, “Since my anniversary date was two weeks ago, am I due for a review and a raise?”

You buy some time by telling the employee you plan to work on it within the next few days. But you can’t help feeling guilty. First, you just lied because until you were reminded, you had no idea that the review was due and had no intention of addressing it. Second, you feel a sense of guilt because your lack of a systemized approach to reviews and raises repeatedly ruins your schedule.

As if this wasn’t enough, the next interruption is your accountant who brings the news that salary expense is way over budget, ending with, “Oh, and by the way, we just got our health insurance renewal. It’s going up 22% next year.”

Most small business owners operate in exactly this fashion. The employee anniversary date, by default, creates the expectation of a raise. (Reviews are generally dreaded by all involved, but as part and parcel of an annual raise, they go along for the ride.) Health insurance and other compensation-related expense increases take us by surprise. We’re supposed to be in charge of our companies, but we’re at the mercy of employees, vendors, and arbitrary schedules.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

How about a system that lets you take charge of schedules, accurately budget for increases in salaries and benefits (and actually stay within that budget), and eliminates the constant stream of mid-year raises?

Sound too good to be true? Read on.

First, who says that an employee’s anniversary date has to trigger a review or a raise? I suggest you do two things:

  1. Perform all the performance reviews in your company within a 2-3 month timeframe, near the end of your fiscal year.
  2. Schedule all pay raises to kick in at the same time – the beginning of the new fiscal year.

What does this do for you? For one thing, it eliminates the constant stream of interruptions and unplanned, hastily-prepared reviews (which hopefully equates to better, more thoughtful reviews.) It also gives you the structure to proactively look at your entire team and corresponding salary expense at one time, and to take the time to budget this expense for the new year.

Yes, it can be a lot of work. Yes, it requires plenty of discipline and organization. But in my mind, the benefits outweighs the costs. You’ve got to do this work anyway, right?

Here’s another change to consider: Try to move your health insurance and other benefit renewals to coincide with the start of your fiscal year. Then, by the time you’re doing your annual planning and budgeting for the new year, you’ve got your renewal quote in hand – ready to be plugged into your budget.

Finally, here’s the biggie: Lump ALL of your compensation-related expenses and focus on that number, and not just on the salary expense. Aim to keep this number growing more slowly than revenue. Better yet, manage to keep it growing more slowly than your gross profit. After all, that’s the number that pays all your overhead expenses.

So, if in the past you tried to have an average annual salary increase of 4%, consider having an annual total compensation expense increase of 4%.

This way of thinking requires some trade-offs. If health insurance is going up a bunch, it may eat up some of the funds that would otherwise be available for raises.

This approach also requires you to have some frank discussions and some educational sessions with your employees. Most are probably unaware that you pay FICA, Medicare and unemployment taxes. They may not know about your cost for their health insurance, worker compensation insurance and other benefits. One way to drive home the total cost to the company is to prepare a year-end summary for each employee, detailing each compensation-related expense.

Eliminate the chaos and take control. Spend some quality time once a year doing this admittedly hard work, and the rest of the year you can focus on growing your business.

Create a Simple Company Procedures Manual

Virtually everyone recognizes the importance of having an office procedure manual, but actually creating one is a big job, so it doesn’t get done. Here’s a SIMPLE way to get it done:

1) Buy an ordinary three ring binder. Mark it “Procedure Manual.”

2) Put some ordinary lined notebook paper in it. Congratulations! Your company now has a procedure manual!

3) Have everyone in the company contribute to the creation and upkeep of this manual. Whenever a repetitive task arises, the most likely person (whoever does that task) takes a few minutes to hand-write a procedure on one of the blank pages. Give it a title so it’s obvious what it’s for.

4) Assign an administrative person the task of periodically taking these hand-written procedures and typing them into a computer using a word processor program like Word. Put a “Revision Date” on each one so you always know whether you’re looking at the most current version. Replace the hand-written procedures with those printed from your computer.

5) Add to it and tweak it over time. It’s never really “done.”

That’s it. The hard part may be getting your employees to stop “winging it” and to actually follow your new procedures.

Track Your Numbers Manually

One of the best things to happen to small businesses – heck, to businesses of any size – is computerized accounting.

Can you even imagine someone sitting down with a two-column ledger book and documenting each individual sale, line by line? It’s the way companies did it for centuries, until recently. We’re fortunate to be living and running our businesses in the modern era.

Despite my high praise for computers and all the things they can do for your business, I still urge you to manually compute your most important numbers. That’s right – use a calculator and a pencil and write them down. Every month.

Here’s why:

It’s so easy to nonchalantly look at a report – like a computer-generated income statement or balance sheet – and put it aside. Critical numbers don’t necessarily jump off the page at you.

In fact, your basic reports may not even give you certain important ratios. If you track revenue per employee, the ratio of current assets to current liabilities, and other key ratios, you may well have to calculate these manually.

My recommendations:

  • Determine what numbers, ratios and other key performance indicators are important enough to track monthly.
  • Set an acceptable range – maybe even specific high and low “red flag” limits – for these indicators.
  • Create a routine for this work. Set aside some time, and use the same format each month. You might do your calculations in the margins of your computer-generated reports, you may use a blank sheet of paper, or you might design a fill-in-the-blanks form. It doesn’t matter how you do as much as that you do it.
  • Working from your computer reports, find the numbers that you’ll need and do your calculations. Do it religiously each month.

If everything is within acceptable range, terrific. Celebrate with your team and maybe even give out some sort of reward for a job well done.

When you find numbers that are out of whack, spring into action and do something about it.

Of course, timely monthly reports are key to making this work. If you’re getting your reports weeks after the month closes, that is a problem that also needs to be tackled.

Using this simple and low-tech approach, you’ll quickly develop a “feel” for your numbers and will stay on top of problems while they are still small and manageable.

Common-Sense Small Business Policies and Procedures

Successful companies don’t make it up as they go along.

For your business to be successful, you need a set of policies, procedures and systems.

Policies

Whether written or not, every company has policies. Policies cover things like whether a product can be returned, under what circumstances an employee will be fired, how long an employee needs to be on the job before being eligible for health insurance, and whether company computers may be used for personal emails. Here are some guidelines:

  • Keep your policies simple, clear, and as few as possible.
  • Don’t create a policy for everything, but do create them for important issues.

A good time to develop a policy is when someone asks for the first time, “What’s our policy for …?” If you don’t have an answer and you expect the question to come up again in the future, you may as well develop a policy to cover that situation. Discuss among the management team or, if appropriate, get an attorney involved.

Procedures and Systems

Can you imagine a fast food restaurant that allowed each employee to decide how to make a burger? Or a bank without formal processes for accepting a deposit? I’m not suggesting creation of unnecessary red tape or nonsense. I am suggesting that …

  • once someone spends the time to figure out how to do something, it’s a waste to let other employees spend the time (also known as “money”) to figure it out again.
  • it is irresponsible to let the company’s know-how go out the door daily at 5PM.
  • you don’t want important business processes to be done “Jim’s way” or “Judy’s way.” You want important business processes done the company’s way!
  • the only path to consistent product and service quality is to have simple, clear procedures and systems.

So, what’s the difference between a procedure and a system? I can probably best explain by example.

Let’s take hiring. You might have a procedure for conducting an interview. (I use the word “procedure” pretty loosely. It might just be a simple checklist. In my mind, a procedure is anything in writing – even in pictures – to guide the steps someone takes to accomplish a task.) You also have a job application and a form asking for the applicant’s approval to perform various background checks.

All of these checklists, procedures and forms make up a hiring system.

Please don’t get hung up on these terms. Feel free to give these things different names. The important concept is documenting:

  • what you do
  • who does it
  • when it gets done
  • how it gets done in sufficient detail to ensure quality and consistency, and prevent duplication of effort.

Let’s look at another example that can help make my point. Suppose you start a store and are the only employee. In the early days, you’ll be doing all kinds of tasks … some simple, and some complicated. One task might involve buying and restocking product for sale in your store.

Let’s say you hire a new store sales employee, Kathy, and you want her to take over the purchasing process. Your training choices include:

  • Show her how you do it, and hope she takes notes or has a good memory, or
  • Type up a simple procedure and give it to her while she’s being trained.

Which do you think will work out best?

If you go the route of most small businesses – which is to show rather than write a procedure – eventually Kathy “gets it.” She starts doing the job, becomes good at it, and over time probably adopts new approaches to the job that you don’t even know about. These changes may impact important things like your cost or delivery lead times. But, none of her improvements get written down.

After a year on the job, Kathy quits. All of this knowledge that Kathy gained – which belongs to you – walks out the door.

So you hire her replacement and show him how to do it the old way. You haven’t been involved in purchasing for over a year. Kathy handled it. You don’t know anything about all the changes she made to the process. You’ve lost a year’s worth of important business knowledge … because nobody bothered to write down a few simple bits of information.

So, even if you’re the only employee, take the time to write down what you do and how you do it. Put it in your computer and print it out. By the time you have your first employee, you will probably have a good start on an procedures or operation manual. Think how much easier it will be to train your folks and how much smoother the operation will run.

Remember: Successful companies – like yours – don’t make it up as they go along.

7 Business Resolutions for the New Year

How is 2011 turning out for you? Check one:

[ ] Pretty rough
[ ] Fair
[ ] Great!

Even if you chose “Great”, it’s hard to be optimistic when unemployment is high and many of the most powerful people in our government seem determined to punish achievement via the tax code. Until fairly recently, entrepreneurs were celebrated and respected. It was all about the American Dream. Now … well, just listen to the words being used and the proposals being made. It’s clear that some folks don’t value what entrepreneurship represents: Pursuing dreams, hard work, jobs and a rising tide that floats all boats. When the dearly-held principles that made this country what it is today – including Capitalism – come under attack, it is difficult indeed to stay positive. Don’t fall for it. Here are seven resolutions for the new year to help you stay positive and improve your company’s performance.

1. I will not buy into the “the rich don’t pay their fair share” nonsense. The top 1% of earners pay 38% of all taxes. The top 10% pay 70% of all taxes. (This information is readily available on the IRS website.) You may not be rich but this ridiculous mantra is mutating into an indictment on all business owners. Get informed – immunize yourself against the negativity.

2. I will run my business by the numbers. It’s important to regularly review your progress and results, including:
• Sales and gross profit, broken down by product/service or customer segments
• Major expense line items
• Net profit
• Cash balance and cash flow
• Accounts Receivable, if applicable

Look at month-to-date and year-to-date results, and compare to the same period from the prior year. It’s also a good idea to look at your income statement numbers as a percent of total sales to spot trends early.

3. I will “hire hard” so I can “manage easy.” A bad hiring decision can haunt you for a long time. Don’t make a snap decision. Build a strong team who will grow with your company.

4. I will delegate. You can’t do it all yourself, so don’t even try.

5. I will connect with my customers. Find out the answers to these two questions:
• What’s important to you? (Quality, customer service, etc.)
• How are we doing in those areas?

Develop relationships with your customers. Find ways to stand out from your competitors and to become the supplier of choice.

6. I will make smart use of technology to improve my business. Technology has become so affordable and easy to use that no business has an excuse for not going high tech. Even the smallest home-based business can afford to level the playing field with larger competitors.

7. We will think like a growth company and will not participate in the poor economy. Get everyone in your company – starting with you and including all your employees – on this bandwagon. Think and talk about growth, pushing through challenges and achieving goals.

Be winners. Build on your successes and learn from your mistakes. Implement all these business practices, and go into the new year with the attitude that this will be your best year yet.

Back from Australia – Memories and Lessons Learned

What a great trip! I got to see Sydney, the remoteness of the Blue Mountains, strengthened existing and created new friendships and business relationships, played golf on one of the world’s great courses, and expanded my speaking/presenting resume to include “international speaker.”

Here are some of the things I learned:

PEOPLE IN SYDNEY ARE: (I’m generalizing based on my observations from only 8 days there, so take this into consideration.)
-Friendly. They like America and Americans, and seem ready and willing to help visitors. Great people!
-Fit. Overweight people are rare in Sydney. Everywhere you look, people are running or biking. Sports and fitness are big here.
-Non-smokers. Goes hand in hand with fitness – I saw very few folks smoking.
-Prosperous. OK, I’m sure not everyone here is doing well, and I stayed mostly in the city. Likely the suburbs and rural areas are different. But I also heard from locals that the worldwide economic downturn has had relatively little impact in Australia. The standard of living – best I can tell – is identical to the USA.
-Tech savvy. PCs, MACs, iPads, smart phones, iPods, all the rest … everywhere you look.
-Proud of their country. For instance, numerous locals pointed out to me that Australia is roughly the same size as the continental US. (Just under 3 million square miles for AUS, and just over 3 million square miles for the US – I looked it up.) They are justifiably proud of their heritage, their culture and their accomplishments. (We Americans should be proud of the fact that Australia is a staunch ally of ours. I’m writing this post the day after the USA’s Veterans Day and am reminded that Aussies have fought, bled and died alongside Americans in wars all over the world.)
Free. “It’s a free country.” I’ve heard that saying hundreds of times over the years in the USA and was surprised to hear it (In hindsight, I shouldn’t have been surprised) to hear it in Australia.
-Self-reliant. Hey, when your country gets its start as a prison colony and is an island in the middle of the ocean, what else can you expect?

A word about Australian coffee: I’m a coffee lover and when a bunch of my Aussie Great Game of Business colleagues came to the USA in May 2011 they told me, “Mate, American coffee is crap! Come to Australia for some real coffee!” So I did. They were right. My new favorite is Aussie “Flat White.” It’s like cappuccino without much foam. Order a “Long Black” and you’ll get American-style coffee but it will almost always be made to order, by the cup – not sitting for hours getting stale on a hot plate.

Aussie Q&A:
Do Australians say “Bonzer”? Nope – apparently only in the movies.
Do they call each other “mate”? Yep, all the time. But just the men.
Do Aussies wear leather hats and carry big knives, like Crocodile Dundee? Not in Sydney.  Maybe in the Outback.
What about money? Australia uses dollars and cents, just like the US. When I was there in Oct. 2011, the exchange rate was about 1:1.

Trivia: Australia is the flattest and dryest continent in the world, according to Wikipedia.

TRAVEL

  • A 12+ hour flight in coach/Economy is brutal. Even upgrading to United Airlines’ Economy Plus doesn’t cut it. The seats don’t recline much so you’re basically trying to sleep sitting up. Go for Business or First Class.
  • Use http://www.seatguru.com/ to determine which seats on your plane are good or bad, then choose a seat based on their ratings.
  • United’s 747s do not have electrical outlets in Economy. I assume all 747s are the same regardless of airline. If you want to use electronics on board, charge it up good before you leave.
  • Going through Customs is not a big deal. Read all the rules and follow them and you’ll be OK.
  • My electrical converter to allow use of USA devices in Australia went out my first day there, and despite trips to numerous stores I was unable to find another. I got by, but don’t assume you’ll find stuff like that when travelling – take a spare.
  • Depending on where you’re going, what cell phone you use and what cell carrier you have – you may or may not be able to use your own phone overseas. If so, order an international plan for the time you’ll be gone. If not, go to http://www.cellularabroad.com/ and for not much money, they’ll ship a phone to you at home before you leave. Do all this early and be prepared.
  • For the credit cards you plan to use overseas, contact those card companies in advance and give them the dates you’ll be there. They’ll approve use in the destination country. If you don’t, there’s a good chance your purchases there won’t be approved. Leave unneeded credit cards at home.
  • If you’ll use Skype to visit with foks back home during your trip, get yourself and them set up before you go, so all the Skype addresses are in place and you’re ready.
  • Take a 4GB or bigger memory stick so you can pull all your photos off your phone and camera. You don’t want to fill them up and be unable to take more photos.
  • If you need access to computer files back home, get an account with http://www.dropbox.com/, http://www.sugarsync.com/ or another similar cloud storage provider. Upload the files you’ll need before you leave and you’ll be able to get them from overseas.

Day 8 in Australia and the Trip Home! Saturday Oct. 22

I wanted to do the Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb this morning but just flat ran out of time, so this was probably my only disappointment of this terrific trip (well, plus the fact that my wife Joy had to stay home and help our daughter Katie who is pregnant & on bedrest). I still had a few souvenirs to buy and then had to figure out a way to get all this stuff into my bags. On top of that, my hotel has an 11 am checkout time. I got it extended to 12:00 but it was clear that I had to get packed and ready. No bridge climb this time.

So, I grabbed some breakfast at an outdoor cafe near the hotel and got all my stuff packed up. I headed to the airport plenty early to allow shopping at the airport for last-minute souvenirs and gifts for back home.

At the airport, I had time for a quick beer so I went to the “Botany Bar” and met some Americans waiting for the same flight. One guy had a stuffed Koala with a sign on the bar: “Will Sell Cheap.” Somehow he had more stuffed koalas than he needed. I bought him a beer for it and made a trade. He, the koala and I were all happy. It barely fit in my bag.

On the flight, I met a fellow entrepreneur sitting next to me – Lynne Brick. She and her husband Victor are co-founders and co-owners of Brick Bodies, a chain of fitness centers in the Baltimore area. They have 2 women-only centers and 5 co-ed. She had just flown to Sydney from Baltimore on Wednesday for a meeting of an industry roundtable group that she is a member of and was now flying back to Baltimore on Saturday – grueling! (And I thought my 8 days was too short a time between long flights.) We struck up a conversation and started talking business. She showed me a people assessment they are considering using, which measures the “Grit” someone has … determination, persistence, etc. It’s a simple 12 question self-test. Looks interesting.

The flight was “only” 13 hours, compared with 14.5 going the other way due to the jet stream and prevailing winds. Still a long time to sit still. I got some work done this time, unlike the trip over. I started writing these blog posts for posting online when I get home.

Here are the 4 legs of this journey:

  1. St. Louis – San Francisco 4.5 hours Airbus A319
  2. San Francisco – Sydney 14.5 hours 747   7500 miles  lose a day
  3. Sydney – San Francisco 13 hours 747  7500 miles  gain a day
  4. San Francisco – St. Louis 4 hours Airbus A319

The trip home is like being in a time machine. I left Sydney on Saturday 10/22 at 3 pm and arrived in San Fransisco the same day at 1pm (2 hours before I left Sydney!) There was about a 90 minute layover in SanFran, then change planes and head home to St. Louis and arrived there the same day about 9 pm. In real time, the entire trip from Sydney to St. Louis took about 19 hours but on the clock it was as if it only took 6 hours. Hard to wrap my brain around that.

I got a little sleep on the trip from San Fran to STL and was very glad to see my wife Joy waiting for me at the airport! Australia was great but there’s no place like home!

Day 7 in Australia – GOLF! Fri. Oct. 21

My Aussie friend & business colleague Paul Lawrence from Sydney and I had planned to play, and I left it up to him to pick the course and make the arrangements. But I didn’t know we’d be playing one of the top courses in Australia – New South Wales Golf Club, right on the Pacific Ocean! It occupies the northern headland of Botany Bay (which Captain Cook originally named “Stingray Harbour.”)
www.nswgolfclub.com.au

His friend Dean is a member, so he got us on the course and played the first 2 holes with us and then left. (Thanks, Dean!) We didn’t get to play all 18 as several holes are under major rework. Paul suspects NSW is getting ready to host a major next year – maybe the Australian Open. The 2009 Australian Open was played there, won by Adam Scott.

Hole #1 is a short par 4, 244 meters. (About 266 yards.) We had to hit over some tall rough to get to the fairway. Paul brought a set of Callaways for me to use and advised a 5 iron for a safe shot, so that’s what I did. All 3 of us hit safely to the landing area. I pitched onto the green and got down in 2 to par my first hole on NSW! This was a relief and set the tone for some decent golf, despite being intimidated by being on a pro-level course and using unfamiliar equipment.

In all, we played 11 holes and avoided the construction areas. This was fine with me – I wasn’t concerned about playing all 18 and was there mainly for the experience.

Here are the holes we played and my scores:

Hole #     Par     My Strokes
1               4               4
3               4               5
5               5               5
6               3               5  * See note below
7               4               4
13             4               4
15             4               6
16             4               4
17             3               3
18             5               5
19             3               3  Temporary Hole during construction
Total:     43            48  for 11 holes

* Hole #6 is NSW’s signature hole – par 3 and an over-the-ocean carry. I sissied out and played for a safe landing area, as the green was small and right by the cliff. Paul hit the green and parred it. If I go back I’ll try better on this hole next time.
1 bogey, 2 double bogeys and 8 pars – I was very happy with this score. What a golf experience!

We each had a couple of beers in the club house. I tried a Victoria Bitter and a Resch’s. Both great but I liked the Resch’s better. I bought a few souvenirs in the pro shop and then off to lunch.

We took lunch to Paul’s family who was enjoying the surf at a nearby beach. After meeting his wife and two of his three kids who were there, we headed to Paul’s office so I could see his Great Game scoreboards.

I had met Wendy from his office when they were both in the US for the Great Game conference in May 2011, so I got to visit with her again. She and I walked down the street to get coffees for a few folks in the office and I got to meet some of Paul’s colleagues.

Paul was nice enough to help me find and take me to a “Supercheap Auto” store to find some Aussie souvenirs for my son-in-law Tony who is a racing nut and who I noticed was watching Aussie racing on TV recently. We stopped for a couple of his errands and then back to his house so he could show me his miniature golf course on the roof of his 2 story house! Yep – it’s a flat roof and he has the cups built into the roof surface and the roof is covered with SmartGrass artificial turf! Incredible!

Although I was happy to take the rail back to my hotel, Paul and Louise insisted I stay for dinner. (I bet Louise thought she had seen the last of me at the beach.) We had a delicious dinner and the kids were great.

Getting to see their house and spending time with them, I was amazed at how much like America things are in Australia. Same concerns, family life, home styles – I really felt at home.

Thanks a million to Paul for a great day of golf, and thanks to his family for opening their home to me and making me feel welcome.

Days 4-6 in Australia – The Great Game of Business Conference – Tues. Oct. 18 – Thurs. Oct. 20

Well, this is after all the reason I came to Australia … to speak and help conduct Great Game Australia. So back to work.

My friend and counterpart in Sydney, Ilan Kogus, did a terrific job of planning and executing the conference. We had over 100 people on day 1, and just under 100 for days 2 & 3.

The other two guys who came over from the US were Jack Stack and Rich Armstrong. Jack is CEO of SRC Holdings, author of the book “The Great Game of Business” and the “father” of the entire Open Book Management movement. Rich Armstrong is the president & GM of the GGOB division of SRC. Jack and Rich arrived on Monday. In addition to the 3 of us, the other presenters include Ilan and Eddie Geller, CEO of Unique World, an IT consultancy in Sydney with about 80 employees. Eddie and his company won the “Rookie of the Year” All-Star Award at the 2011 GGOB Gathering Conference in St. Louis, so I got to know Eddie then.

Agenda – Day 1 “Get in The Game” 

  • “The Great Game of Business”, introduction and overview – Jack Stack
  • “The Critical Number” Workshop – Rich Armstrong
  • “90 Day Mini Game Challenge” – Bill Collier
  • “Getting in the Game – the way we do it in Australia”, Ilan Kogus
  • “Practitioners Panel” – Jack, Bill, Rich, Ilan and Great game practitioners

Agenda – Day 2 “Gathering”

  • “Provide a Stake in the Outcome” – Rich Armstrong and Bill Collier
  • “The Secret of Champions” – Ilan Kogus
  • “An All-star Case Study” – Eddie Geller, CEO, Unique World
  • “Follow the Action & Keep Score” (Huddle Simulation) – Bill Collier
  • “Practitioners Panel” – Jack, Bill, Rich, Ilan and Great game practitioners

Agenda – Day 3   AM

  •  High Involvement Planning – Formulating the “Annual Game Plan”Jack Stack and Rich Armstrong

Agenda – Day 3  PM

  • Roundtable meeting with Ilan, his Mastermind group, Jack, Bill, and Rich

All in all, the conference went great. The attendees were enthusiastic and eager to learn. There were plenty of Q&A sessions with Jack and the other presenters.

In May 2011, Ilan and 12 Aussies came to St. Louis for our annual international conference, the Gathering of Games. Their target is to have 20+ in STL for the 20th Annual conference May 9-11, 2012.

Many thanks to Ilan, all his Mastermind members and all the attendees for the warm welcome and hospitality and for a successful conference!