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A Game You Need to Know

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When he graduated from college, Rich Armstrong likely had no idea he'd end up playing a game for a living.

Now president of The Great Game of Business, Armstrong joined Jack Stack's Springfield Remanufacturing Corp. in customer service in 1990, and in 2005, he was named CEO of the organization espousing Stack's unique philosophy on business management.

Armstrong was the featured guest Tuesday morning at Springfield Business Journal's 12 People You Need to Know monthly breakfast.

He said the first exposure most people have to the Great Game is the idea of open-book management.

"But when you really understand the Great Game of Business, it goes far beyond opening up your books," Armstrong told those gathered at the Tower Club. "You have to figure out how to engage your employees to understand the numbers and improve the numbers."

The idea is catching on in the business world. Stack's business program – first created when he and other employees of what was then International Harvester bought out the Springfield operation – has been featured on MSNBC, CNBC, in the Wall Street Journal and Inc. magazine, and Stack writes a regular blog in the New York Times about his open-book endeavors.

Companies are getting wise as well. More than 4,000 have tried the system, including local firms such as InDiv and Professional Massage Training Center and national brands including Harley-Davidson and Southwest Airlines. SBJ Publishing Inc., parent company of both Springfield Business Journal and Joplin Tri-State Business Journal, also plays the Great Game.

The company continues to expand its presence, with franchises in St. Louis and Phoenix, and international contacts in the United Kingdom and Australia.

Armstrong said companies like the fact that the program is tailored to the individual needs of their own firms but can still work.

"Each company is different, but ultimately the idea is to impress the financial results on the employees, who drive those results," he said. "You feel a difference in the organization - you feel like people are involved, and you hear great solutions you never thought of."[[In-content Ad]]

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