Springfield, MO

Stake in outcome inspires workers

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Jack Stack is an open book – or at least, his management style is.

In 1983, Stack led 118 co-workers in an employee buyout of Springfield Remanufacturing Corp. from its parent company, International Harvester. SRC stock was worth 10 cents per share at the time. Now, with 840 SRC Holdings Corp. shareholders, the stock is worth $98 per share.

Today, as president and CEO, Stack leads SRC and its 26 subsidiaries, including The Great Game of Business, Avatar Components Corp., SRC of Canada Inc., Encore Material Management Specialist Inc., Engines Plus Inc., Newstream Enterprises and Megavolt. The companies reached a combined $230 million in sales in 2004.

Those numbers have a profound effect on the community, which Stack said is SRC’s greatest contribution.

“It’s the wealth the people have created and been able to recycle throughout the community by the creation of jobs and good pay,” he said. “We’re proud of being part of the infrastructure that’s made the city what it is.”

Stack also credits good communication between City Hall, the chamber of commerce and the educational system.

“The leadership in those three positions have really been the spine of the community,” he said.

Stack’s open-book management style, through which company financial data is shared with employees, and his teachings were introduced to the nation in his 1992 book, “The Great Game of Business,” which encouraged businesses to create companies of owners rather than employees.

The Great Game of Business operates on three key elements: know and teach the rules, follow the actions and keep score, and provide a stake in the outcome.

“When you think like an owner, you do all the little things necessary to win,” Stack said in the book. “You make the extra phone call to be sure the customer is happy. You figure out how to slice an additional 25 cents from the cost of a part. You spend money on the sales presentation, not on the hotel room or the rented car. You wipe the grease spot off the product before you put it in the box and ship it.”

Alexis Brown worked for five years with Stack as general manager of The Great Game of Business.

“He teaches the things that you most likely won’t pick up by going to school. The best Harvard MBA can learn a lot from Jack, just by working with Jack,” she said, adding that the knowledge she gleaned is beneficial in the job she has held for six months, director of communications for Doctors Hospital.

“It’s information I’ll have for the rest of my life. Honestly, it’s amazing,” Brown said of The Great Game of Business.

In addition to his leadership, Brown said Stack is a down-to-earth individual.

“He cares about people. He puts on this front of being a leader, which he is, but he truly worries about his employees,” she said.

A second book, “A Stake in the Outcome: Building a Culture of Ownership for the Long-Term Success of Your Business,” was released in 2003. Stack, who has been a columnist for Inc. magazine, was named the publication’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 1991.

Stack travels around the world, speaking with companies and conducting seminars to educate companies on the benefits of open-book management. The Great Game of Business, he said, has been implemented at 6,000 companies, including Southwest Airlines, Harley-Davidson and Allstate Insurance Co.

“When you transfer over from a worker to manager to an owner, there is an ‘aha’ moment, when you realize that it’s about ownership and things begin to look different,” Stack said. “There’s a difference between renting a car and owning a car. You don’t necessarily wash rental cars. That’s the ‘aha’ moment, when you realize it’s your car.”

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