by Jack Stack, Bo Burlingham, Currency Doubleday, September 16, 2003, 0385505094
An extension of the Great Game of Business is that creating
business is the game of business. Stack covers the history of
SRC and its many subsidiaries. He doesn't shy away from sensitive
topics like disagreements he had with people and why. The theme is
that business is about creating future opportunities by teaching
people about what business is and what they get out of it if they
are owners. Bo Burlingham, editor-at-large of Inc. Magazine. is
co-author, and it's a very readable book as a result.
The book defines 14 rules of ownership:
[p10] #1 The company is the product.
[p24] #2 A company isn't worth anything if nobody else wants to own it.
[p43] #3 The bigger the pie, the bigger the individual slices.
[p58] #4 Stock is not a magic pill.
[p69] #5 It takes a team to build equity value.
[p78] #6 Failures are fine as long s they strengthen the company.
[p95] #7 Ownership needs to be taught.
[p118] #8 You build an ownership culture by breaking down walls.
[p134] #9 Getting out is harder than getting in.
[p148] #10 To maximize equity value, you have to think strategically.
[p165] #11 You create wealth by building companies, not by selling
products and services.
[p203] #12 A company is only as good as its people.
[p204] #13 Ownership is all about the future.
[p258] #14 You gotta wanna.
Here are some other quotes:
[p47] Trust is a key element of long-term business success, and you
can't have trust without honesty and openness.
[p166] You realize that there's a log more money to be made in
building and selling companies than in building and selling products.
So you start searching for opportunities to start other businesses.
What do you find? They're all around you. THere are more than you
can handle. You can't believe you haven't noticed them before.
What you need at that point is a formula that allows you to take
advantage of the opportunities, preferably with resources you already
[p207] To one degree or another, the whole process of building an
ownership culture is geared toward leading people to that epiphany
[that you control your own destiny through ownership]. It isn't
easy. In effect, you're asking people to make a fundament change in
perspective, a leap of consciousness, and all kinds of things come
along to block the message, as we discovered over and over again in
the course of our journey.
[p208] Overcoming those obstacles is essential if you want to create
a company of owners, but you need tools to get through to people.
I've always found that the most effective tool is reality itself.
There are times, however when even a system like the Great Game of
Business isn't enough. Try as you might, you find that you can't get
through to people with facts, reason, and logic. The emotions are too
intense. Communications breaks down.
[p214] I had a different idea of my role as a leader. My job, I
thought, was to help people understand reality, and in busines the
reality is that you are constantly facing threats, some of which you
can identify, some of which you can't. So you need an element of
fear. You need to be aware of the real dangers that are lurking out
there in the market and that could cost you your job if you're not
careful. Otherwise you won't do what's necessary to protect yourself
and the people you work with. You'll get complacent. You may even
get arrogant. You'll think you're doing great because you're
generating a log of profit. You won't realize how quickly the
situation could turn around.
I do think Stack has become too enamored with what he has created.
He even says so at one point in the book. In particular, the
following quote shows that he values "community and culture" for their
own sake, not the value they bring to the understanding of business
and to the success thereof.
[p244] Having outside investors could change the whole thinking of
the business. For one thing, the employees would not have a
controlling interest in the company anymore. Under those
circumstances, it might not be possible to preserve the community or
[p257] Nobody likes to leave the comfort zone. Most of us think,
"Why mess with success?" We've been trained to believe that, if you
work hard, everything will come to you. It's one of the biggest
fallacies our parents teach us: "Just keep your nose to the
grindstone." Then we're caught completely unawares when the
grindestone is replaced by something better and we suddenly can't pay
the bills anymore.