This year’s Remodeling Leadership Conference in May focused on open-book management, a philosophy explained by Jack Stack and Bo Burlingham in a book called The Great Game of Business. Many people swear by it.

Open-book management is a business model in which management shares financial information with every employee. This encourages employees to learn how financials work and allows them to follow the action, keep score, and be rewarded with a stake in the outcome. It encourages teamwork and lets everyone win, including the company.

Remodelers Advantage, where I work, is an open-book company, and we have several clients who have embraced this concept. It’s not for every remodeler. Many we work with find the idea too daunting, too scary, or simply not in line with their business philosophy.

Games We Play

One of the more exciting and accessible pieces of The Great Game of Business is mini-games. These challenge employees to solve a management problem in an engaging way. And I guarantee you there are challenges in your company you can solve in a fun, engaging, and memorable way by developing a mini-game.

The Great Game defines these games as “a short-term activity designed to correct a weakness or pursue an opportunity within the company.” There’s a goal, a scoreboard, and a reward for winning.

At the Leadership Conference, each table of six to eight attendees set out to design a mini-game to solve a problem of their choice. Our table decided to work on cutting the number of lumberyard and hardware store trips by half. It was based on a pizza theme, and we called it “Pickup or Delivery?” The scoreboard was a big pizza poster. Every week, if the carpenters reached their goal of reduced trips, an extra slice of pepperoni was added to the pizza. We decided on a range of prizes from pizza delivered to the jobsite to a pizza night out for all the families at a restaurant.

Though the conference attendees at our table were just simulating employees at a company, I’m positive that — in an actual company — there would be buy-in for this mini-game and peer pressure not to make those extra trips.

Does It Work?

Bob Gallagher, president and chief operating officer of Sun Design Remodeling Specialists, in Burke, Va., is sold on mini-games. He feels that they are “a healthy way to take care of company weaknesses by focusing staff in a fun activity.” Sun Design Remodeling uses these exercises and often documents the awards with photos and videos.

Key ingredients to creating successful mini-games:

  • They are short-term (one to three months), and the goal is to change behavior. Expect some drop-off in the improvement when the game is finished, but a gain overall.
  • They use fun non-monetary incentives. One example might be a school principal who says he will shave his head if students read a total of 1,000 books during the summer. That’s a mini-game. At Remodelers Advantage, the first reward involved the boss bringing coffee and bagels to the office. The top reward is lunch for the whole team on the company’s tab.
  • They are governed by measurable goals. The scorecard should be prominently posted. The team should huddle at least weekly to get progress updates and refocus on achieving the number.

If your interest is piqued, you might want to get more information at

As Gallagher explains: “Mini-games by themselves are great cultural pieces to make good business fun and get a focus on the metrics that make the business successful.”

If you are tired of trying to change behavior by ranting and raving and nagging, mini-games just might be the answer.

Mark Robert Halper Photography

—Linda Case is founder of Remodelers Advantage, a national company that gives remodelers the tools to achieve consistent profitability and success through one-on-one consulting, the Roundtables peer program, and an online learning community, Advantage Associates. 301.490.5620;;