Willoway Nurseries, Inc.

The Midwest's Premier Wholesale Grower!


"The best, most efficient, most profitable way to operate a business is to give everybody in the company a voice in saying how the company is run and a stake in the financial outcome, good or bad."

In 2015, Willoway Nurseries, Inc. implemented the Great Game of Business (GGOB) style of Open Book Management. Built on the tenets of Sharing Information, Creating Business Literacy, Creating Accountability for Outcomes, and giving employees a Stake in the Outcome the GGOB program has revolutionized Willoway's business model and employee involvement.

"The concept was born in 1983 when Jack Stack was battling to turn around a dying division of International Harvester and save 119 jobs. He shared the company financials with his employees, but needed a way to help them understand how they could affect those financials. Stack's open-book approach to managing the company grew from simply sharing financials to actually teaching his employees the 'rules' of business."

Going far beyond simply providing financial information to employees, the GGOB concept seeks to get all employees thinking as owners and using the Wisdom of the Crowd to solve business problems, increase efficiencies, and succeed in an ever-tightening market. Providing financial data to employees would be near useless without them being able to understand what the numbers mean for them so basic financial education is critical to the process. Having them see the numbers allows them to watch those number change and shows the impact their actions can have on those numbers.

This plays into the "keeping score" aspect of the program. Relating business to a "game" does not seek to trivialize the business but to provide a relational context. Games have rules, procedures, and scores. Play the game well as a team and you might win. Play poorly and you will surely lose. This can be broken down further by utilizing the concept of "MiniGames" to focus short term attention in solving a particular problem or strengthening a weakness. Since most people like to play games, this not only makes the work more enjoyable but rallies them to accomplish those goals to get a "win" or try for a new high score, which is often accompanied by a small reward.

"Our ultimate goal is to create a "business of business people" who think, act and feel like owners. Open-book management is one of the key components of our approach, though it is only a portion of our overall process."

The end result is solid teamwork built through mutual trust and understanding. Employees are empowered to make decisions in the best interest of the company based on the knowledge they have shared in and are accountable for their actions. The company's goals become the employee's goals because they help set and take ownership of those goals. Ownership, management, and employees all work together to ensure everyone wins the game!