Data Driven Leadership

Building a Winning Team Culture Through Open-Book Management

Guest: Preston Howell, Client Success Leader, Resultant

In this conversation, Resultant Client Success Leader Preston Howell dives into a concept called the Great Game of Business (GGOB), which brings financial and business literacy and transparency to every employee in an organization through an exciting sports-like environment.

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A sports-like approach to work can keep teams enthused and motivated. Gamifying your team’s day-to-day could be the boost needed to reach the next big milestone.

In this conversation, Resultant Client Success Leader Preston Howell dives into a concept called the Great Game of Business (GGOB), which brings financial and business literacy and transparency to every employee in an organization through an exciting sports-like environment.

Preston highlights the importance of data and business metrics comprehension for employees, which is essential for questioning and improving outcomes. He shares how telling the stories behind the numbers along with balancing the financials is part of keeping a business thriving. From managing PTO spikes to the nuanced impact of sick time on revenue, we cover the strategies for smarter forecasting.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • How to empower team members through open-book management
  • How to drive change with minigames and creative incentives
  • How to effectively communicate data and impact

In this podcast:

  • [04:02-08:43] Providing transparency through open-book management
  • [08:43-19:10] Proactively forecasting to optimize future profitability
  • [19:10-28:24] Understanding the business impact of PTO
  • [28:24-29:51] Educating employees on problem-solving
  • [29:51-33:44] Implementing open book management and gamification

Our Guest

Preston Howell

Preston Howell

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Preston Howell is a dyed-in-the-wool Northern Midwesterner whose love of data, problem solving, and doing work that matters turned him into a Texan. He knew he was in the right place as soon as he began his 2014 internship at the Dallas Resultant office, getting to work with team members who have an earnest desire to help their clients and each other succeed.

Preston has a real affinity for the people side of technology problems, always focusing on the end user who will be using the systems and solutions he helps implement. While most of his work is still client facing today, he has added responsibilities in the sales and delivery cycle as well as managing and leading internal teams. He’s passionate about the learning, collaboration, and brainstorming ingrained in the teamwork culture at Resultant.

Preston and his wife, who is from Vermont, both would rather be outside than anywhere else. Together, they started a creation care ministry at their church that includes a thriving community garden. They’re members of a bouldering gym, and he still pursues his lifelong ultimate frisbee obsession even in the Texas heat.

“I have many similarities with a golden retriever,” he said. “If you throw something, I have to run after it. Which is kind of problem because I don’t like running.”


Jess Carter [00:00:01]:

The power of data is undeniable and unharnessed. It's nothing but chaos.

Speaker 1[00:00:06]:

The amount of data, it was crazy.

Speaker 2 [00:00:08]:

Can I trust it?

Speaker 3 [00:00:09]:

You will waste money.

Speaker 4 [00:00:11]:

Held together with duct tape.

Speaker 5 [00:00:12]

Doomed to failure.

Jess Carter [00:00:13]:

This season, we're solving problems in real-time to reveal the art of the possible. Making data your ally, using it to lead with confidence and clarity, helping communities and people thrive. This is Data Driven Leadership, a show by Resultant.
Hey guys, you are about to hear from Preston Howell, and he is a Client Success Lead at Resultant. He really helped us design and implement our Great Game of Business, which is an approach to running a business that is, it's called open-book management. It's a way to walk your whole company through your P&L and tie their individual performance to the company's performance. It's been an incredible journey for us. I just started understanding and participating in GGOB in 2023, so I'm only about three-quarters in myself.

Jess Carter [00:01:06]:

But it has been so exciting to see how it has connected our people to our business and our mission to our business performance in a very real way. That is tricky and hard to do. And Preston really explains well in this episode how we went about doing that. He played a major role in designing it and facilitating and supporting that. And so I hope you really enjoy this episode. As you think about transparency, how do you better, well, I'd say transparency and incentives. How do you better relay the business performance to the individuals in it and also help them appreciate the role they play in that performance. Hope you enjoy this one.

Jess Carter [00:01:48]:

Welcome, Preston.

Preston Howell [00:01:50]:

Thank you, Jess. Good to be here.

Jess Carter [00:01:52]:

Thank you. Well, let's get into it. So you've been a good sport about this, but it's kind of fun to catch you on the back half of a year, for me, of learning about Great Game of Business. So we're going to unpack this a bit, but let's start with the concept of what it is. As I've researched a bit, it's just one of the many approaches to open book management. Is that right?

Preston Howell [00:02:16]:
That's right.

Jess Carter [00:02:17]:
Okay, so if you were explaining to, my favorite examples are like your parents or like a friend, that has nothing to do with any of the things we do all day. How do you explain what GGOB is?

Preston Howell [00:02:29]:
Yeah, so the reason we do GGOB is to empower the individual employee within the organization. It's open-book management, but there's so much more to it than that. The reason we do that is so that the people in the organization, whether they're an intern, an entry-level, a senior level, an executive, are each collectively thinking together about the business. They understand the business. They can think intelligently about the business and strategically about the business. Right. That's what we're doing. So, the way that we do that is by proactively sharing information about how the company is doing and how the company will do moving forward.

Preston Howell [00:03:12]:
Right. Because, you know, anybody leading a business is looking and saying, how have the first six months of the year been? And how are the next six months going to be? We're bringing every single person into the business or into that thought process and saying, hey, we hired you because you're intelligent. We want to work with you because you're intelligent and you've got good things to add. So let's collectively think about it. Let's look at the good and the bad, and together work to drive the organization forward. I absolutely love it. Right? I started my career here as an intern, and it's like, as an intern, we're telling these kids that are in college, like, hey, here's how you run a successful consulting firm. Here are the types of things you look at.

Preston Howell [00:03:54]:
Here's how you run a successful business. That sets them up in such a cool way, even above and beyond what we do in the rest of our internship.

Jess Carter [00:04:02]:
Yeah, I think it's neat. So that's part of our story, too, right? I was here when there were about 20 or 30 of us, and we didn't have open book management. We had a whole bunch of data. But then, as we scaled, it was almost like the data got, kind of fell behind a curtain. And I feel like open book management or GGOB kind of helped pull it back out in front of everyone. And so for me, it's been really empowering, to your point, to say, hey, we actually all participate in the business's performance, so why not call it out and let's see, how's she doing? Instead of guessing or hoping by the end of the year that we know how it went, being able to read a P&L and having hundreds of people who know how to read a P&L seems cool. And so there's been these know. Now, I think you guys applying, you kind of brought it to our business.

Jess Carter [00:04:52]:
Preston, you guys were doing this at the Dallas office and helped teach the rest of the company how to do it. Were there some, I don't know, slippery slopes? Were there some tricks to it? Was what was that journey like?

Preston Howell [00:05:04]:
Yeah. When we were thinking about starting it in Dallas, one of the big concerns of our leadership, which are, I think concerns shared across other leaders thinking of doing it is like, whoa, whoa, whoa. What happens if this information gets out? And what happens if I suddenly show my P&L and people start misinterpreting what it is? Like, I don't want to do that. Right. And so the big a-ha for us was the importance of education and training in it. Right. You can't just roll out your P&L willy-nilly without teaching people how to read it.

Preston Howell [00:05:43]:
You have to have informed conversations about what is EBITDA? How does EBITDA compare to profit? How does that compare to our revenue? Right. You need to be teaching people about the business, teaching people about the finances of a business, because that's how you make it successful. So that was like my big a-ha was when I was talking to our leadership. And they're like, honestly, we were terrified of doing this until we realized education was a part of it. And we're not just going to start showing all of our numbers to everybody. We're going to educate as we do it. And we can start in year one with this and then we can gradually get bigger and bigger as people learn about the business.

Jess Carter [00:06:23]:
That's awesome. So you're having to design how this works for the people that are going to consume the information. There's some level of data literacy and maturity that you have to consider when you're rolling it out. Is that fair?

Preston Howell [00:06:35]:
Absolutely. Yeah. Data literacy and maturity. Business literacy and maturity. It's easy for people to see big numbers that are way larger than their salary and think, oh, my gosh, what are we doing? And it's like, well, you got to educate. This is how we're successful in our line of business. This is the type of margin that we need to be able to sustain in our business. This is how that compares to others in our industry.

Preston Howell [00:06:59]:
All of that education is what then sets people up to think strategically about, okay, now that I understand our market as a professional services business and how we're doing, I can start thinking about what levers we can pull to grow this year and in future years.

Jess Carter [00:07:16]:
So, for those who've never been part of it, can we talk about what it feels like? Let's talk about, like, the huddles or the Mini. Can you kind of walk people through if they've never been part of this? What does it feel like to be part of it?

Preston Howell [00:07:31]:
Yeah, absolutely. So before starting Great Game of Business, there's a design team. So I think I'm just going to start there. So what we did is we pulled a cross functional set of people from our business. We had relatively new people, we had very senior people. We had consultants, we had people in back office. We brought them all together to design the game. So the purpose of that chunk before you're even officially playing is to practice playing, to build out a scoreboard to begin educating the business.

Preston Howell [00:08:02]:
That design team process is supercritical, right? Because that's where you get to pilot anything and everything related to the game. You get to figure out what you're monitoring. If people understand that, if not, how do you train them to understand it? And that becomes a really good blueprint for rolling it out to the rest of the organization. Now, once we rolled it out, we have a cadence where every week, our entire business gets together, and we huddle. The huddle is centered around the P&L because, in the business world, the way that you consistently measure the health of a business is a P&L. So we teach people how to read that. We review that every week. And we're not reviewing just our history.

Preston Howell [00:08:43]:
We're not saying, okay, last month we did this. We're actually proactively as a team forecasting the whole month. And we're saying, what are we going to do this month? How is that going to compare to what our budget was for this month? Are we going to be over on revenue but then also over on cost? So our margin is taking a hit even though we're growing, or are we going to be under on both? And we're actually probably okay. From a profitability standpoint? We do that every month because, as any good business leader knows, you want to be looking forward, right? It's really important. It's great to have a good year, but you want to be looking into the future such that you don't say, wow, 2022 is amazing, and then you don't have anything to do in 2023. You can't be successful when you're doing that. So we look forward. That's a really key part.

Preston Howell [00:09:37]:
And then each month after the month after the books have closed, we go back, and we say, how accurate was our forecasting? Where did we do well? And most importantly, in all of this, we're telling the stories about it, right? So we're able to say, this consultant on this project solved this problem that impacted our P&L in this way. And we're able to celebrate that consultant for what they did as we educate about the business. So it brings everybody together. We do it every week. It's so fun.

Jess Carter [00:10:04]:
It's fun. It's actually fun. And I say that because legitimately, who has ever been like, man, I can't wait to read P&L today?

Preston Howell [00:10:13]:
It's really weird. Yeah, no, it's actually fun. And people look forward to it. Right. And it's a chance to bring people together, and it's a chance, like I said, to find those opportunities to celebrate people in front of their peers and the people above them, and people get amped about it.

Jess Carter [00:10:30]:
I think it's neat, too, to see one. One of my favorite parts of the huddles is listening to people ask questions about the business and say, like, hey, this number is different than it's been in the past. Why is that? And there are times where the answer is like, we're not sure, let's go dig. But there are speculations that you can tell help be the high tide that raises all boats where people understand what might impact a number and what might not. Or we have stories about everyone has sort of anecdotal evidence about the business and how it's doing a big project. It's going really well, or had a big milestone this month, and everyone was working really hard. And you can actually see it in the P&L. You can actually see what everyone was feeling kind of proved out in one way or another.

Jess Carter [00:11:12]:
And so it's been neat to see how that has helped. I think people feel really connected to the performance of the business in a very different way than I've seen in the past. I think it's cool.

Preston Howell [00:11:24]:
Yeah. And something I didn't mention before that I should have is like, we have a stake in the outcome, right? So what we've done as a business is we've shifted away from individual bonus plans into a cooperative bonus plan. We are winning together as a team or we're losing together as a team. And so it's like we're teaching people to think like an owner, and we're giving them the same benefits that you will get in an ownership role of. You're getting stuff like, if we do really well, the entire business gets a bigger bonus. And that's a cool way of retaining people. That's a cool way of educating on the business. And a big part of that is educating on, like, when can you afford to have a bonus payout? Right.

Preston Howell [00:12:06]:
Because you're looking at the P&L. So, you know if you can afford to have a bonus payout. Yeah, I love that part of it.

Jess Carter [00:12:13]:
Well, hang on. Your bonus payout comment it almost made it sound like we decide when we do the payouts throughout the year, but we have them scheduled. Is that right?

Preston Howell [00:12:24]:
Okay, good clarification. Yes. This is not a requirement for GGOB, but it's something I've seen at other organizations. Instead of just having the annual bonus payout, we actually do a quarterly bonus payout that's based upon how you did thus far through the year. Now, what's cool is it's accelerated, so you're not setting yourself up to fail. So let's say you have an insane q one, and then, just like the rest of the year, you paid out q one. It was insane. But you didn't pay out a full 25% of the forecasted bonus.

Preston Howell [00:13:02]:
You paid out a much smaller percentage of the forecasted bonus, such that still you ramp up, you protect the business in it, but you're able to get cash in people's hands earlier. So it's good from a cash flow standpoint because you have it leaving consistently throughout the year. It's good for the employee standpoint because a 90-day goal, I can see that. A 365-day goal, that's not enough to really motivate me to behave differently. And it's all based on a schedule, which you alluded to. Right. So we have an exact, here's our payout schedule.

Preston Howell [00:13:37]:
We can look each week and say, okay, here's how much contribution margin professional services brought to the organization this month that is associated with this level, which means everybody gets this percentage bonus or they're forecasted to at the end of the year.

Jess Carter [00:13:51]:
Yeah. So I could hear a lot of people asking this. Something I wondered at first was, I loved the ownership. I was really excited about getting my arms around sort of the performance of the business again and understanding the P&L. And it got real numbers heavy. It got very company performance heavy when we have a really strong mission/vision/values. And so, in your opinion, Preston, how do you maybe balance or just integrate those two really powerful concepts of, like, hey, I want you to care about the business performance, but I don't want you to care about it so much that you forfeit the mission/vision/values.

Preston Howell [00:14:34]:
Yeah. That's where the storytelling side of it becomes really important. Right. When we can tell the story about what we're doing in the criminal justice world, and we're saying, hey, this is our project that we're doing. These are the people on it. Here's how that's impacting society, and here's how that's impacting our P&L, because the cool thing about it is it's like a mutually beneficial loop. When you're doing it right, you're impacting your clients, which is allowing us to fulfill our mission. Your consultants are doing cool work and learning things, which is impacting the people at the business, and you're making money for it, which you have to do in a business setting.

Preston Howell [00:15:16]:
But if you're doing it well, that naturally then can lead to more, better work. So it's finding those opportunities where you can say, here's where we fulfilled the mission. Here's how that impacted our business and celebrate the people responsible. That's what we have to do now. It's a balance, right? You've seen it. There are some weeks where we huddle, and it's like, way too numbers-focused. And then that's where people who lead the huddles get on teams and say, hey, we got to make sure we're celebrating people more. We got to make sure that we're highlighting client stories more.

Preston Howell [00:15:50]:
So it's not just about the numbers, right? The numbers are the means of measuring the health of the business. But there's so much more, especially in a professional services organization, right. We're here to help people. We got to find ways where we celebrate when we've helped people in a cool way.

Jess Carter [00:16:06]:
And we're so innately used to celebrating, right. All of us clearly stop and celebrate at the top of the mountain and don't look for the next one to immediately start climbing. And so it's work a little bit for us to celebrate. But I think it's so important.

Preston Howell [00:16:25]:
This is where I like gamifying things because it's like, if you take yourself and you put yourself in a sports mindset, right? Like, if you grew up playing soccer or something, it's like, if your team scores a goal, what do you do? Everybody freaks out. They're like, and you rush the field, and in business, we're like, oh, we just won a thing. Cool. Let's move on.

Jess Carter [00:16:49]:
And it's like, what?

Preston Howell [00:16:50]:
No. Somebody just did something really cool. Celebrate that for the retention side. It gets people excited. We want to get people excited so we can retain good people. And what better way than shouting out from the rooftops when they do something really good?

Jess Carter [00:17:09]:
That's awesome. That's so cool. It makes me happy to hear you say that. Well, and since I didn't quite figure out how to give you, I don't even know how to use the right language here since I couldn't give you a curveball Thursday night when we played pickleball together, and Preston's way better than I am. Okay, here's maybe my attempt at a curveball in the conversation. Is there anything about GGOB you don't love?

Preston Howell [00:17:38]:
Yes. So what we were just talking about, it's not easy to balance the constantly sharing the financials with reaffirming that, hey, all this is not the most important thing. Right. Something that we've struggled with. So, in a professional services organization, you know this, but the listeners may not: What you're selling as your widget is people's time.

Jess Carter [00:18:13]:

Preston Howell [00:18:14]:
And so that means me getting sick for a week impacts our revenue in a tangible way, in a large way. Right. And so one of the things that I've had conversations with people about is like, they're sick and they're like, I feel bad because I forecasted I was going to work a whole week, and now I'm not able to.

Jess Carter [00:18:37]:

Preston Howell [00:18:38]:
And that's a really delicate balance. Right. It's not overcomeable, but it's something that if we weren't every week saying each team how much revenue they're going to bring in, people won't have that guilt. So it's just reminding people of, like, this is built in. We know this is going to happen. This is in the budget, we have these benefits like sick time, et cetera, such that when you're sick, you don't have to work. And so it's just reminding people, we know that's going to happen and then it's getting better at forecasting. Right.

Preston Howell [00:19:10]:
Because we've delegated out this forecasting, so somebody on our data engineering team forecasts what the data engineering team is going to do for the month. And so getting better at that side where we say, hey, week one of the month, we should probably assume somebody's going to get sick over the course of the month. That's a fair assumption. And so if we think we're going to be up here, let's drop that by like 5%. Now, as you get into week four, you're only forecasting two more business days. The odds that the entire team gets sick and is out, that's really low. You don't have to drop it by as much.

Jess Carter [00:19:45]:
It's like the flu season forecast is upon us.

Preston Howell [00:19:48]:
That's right. Yes. Oh, my gosh. And PTO, I mean, it's been a recurring theme since we rolled it out, but we're about to get into November, December, which means we're going to have so many instances where it's like, well, this person said they were going to take two days off, but they forgot they were going to see family and they actually are taking another week off, and we didn't bake that in correctly. So now we have to drop our forecast. We know it's coming.

Jess Carter [00:20:16]:
Yes. Okay. And this will be our first time going through that as a full company. So you have some of those lessons learned that we can hopefully steal and borrow and anticipate better.

Preston Howell [00:20:27]:
Yes. It's shocking how much PTO gets used in the months of December and July. Those are huge spikes.

Jess Carter [00:20:38]:
Oh, yeah, huge spikes. Well, it's funny. I mean, being in professional services for ten years now, what I noticed, too, is January always seems, like, dark and weird, like drea ry. It doesn't seem great. It's gray. It doesn't seem like people are showing up. Maybe it's New Year's like the beginning of a month. March and April, there's always a spring break where everyone panics because it looks like nobody worked for two weeks.

Jess Carter [00:21:00]:
July is get all your vacation in. August is always, people hit it hard. Kids are back at school, we're ready to go. And then it's like fall breaks and then the rest of the year.

Preston Howell [00:21:09]:
Yes. It's really interesting seeing those spikes. And this year, based on where spring break fell, it was like April was heavier for PTO, whereas normally March is heavier for PTO for spring break. And so I know that messed us up a little bit on what we budgeted against.

Jess Carter [00:21:26]:
But I think it's so cool that we're thinking about, I mean, it never before had I thought about, it's not bad because we are humans first, but it's like how PTO or the aggregation of PTO on a single week can impact a business. It's not something I deeply thought about. In the past, I'd wondered how that worked. I didn't get to see how it worked. And so I think it is really neat to start to get. I'm at a point now where when I hear a number, I know whether it seems off or unexpected, up or down, and I'm curious before I even see or compare it to the other number. Right. And I think that's really cool.

Jess Carter [00:22:04]:
I think it's a neat gift.

Preston Howell [00:22:05]:
It is. And it's cool that you're doing that as a VP, but I think it's even cooler that random person who's a year out of college is thinking the same thing, and they're saying, like, whoa, what happened to our utilization this month? Why did that tank? And look at the impact that had on our delivery resource costs that weren't on projects, and look at what impact that had to our margin, it's like a year out of school. You're asking questions about a 500 person professional services organization. Like, this is crazy.

Jess Carter [00:22:38]:
Oh, yeah. Well, and even so, I'd watch some of the larger consulting firms that we competed with. I'd do some, they call it independent verification, validation. I'd kind of show up and make sure that everyone's doing what they said they're going to do. And there were moments when they would negotiate a contract for nine months, ten months, and I would watch and think, but the impact the client wanted was three months ago. They wanted impacts by then. And so there was this deep appreciation for me of misunderstanding. I didn't have really any empathy for the business, the consulting firm.

Jess Carter [00:23:13]:
And so there's been this really interesting growth for me to also understand as we've scaled some of the reasons, I'm not saying I love that, that they couldn't get to their outcomes in three months because they're still negotiating contract. But I appreciate more, I can imagine what that does to their P&L, that they probably thought they were going to start sooner, too, and instead, they're still negotiating. And there's probably real reasons for that in their language, that they're trying to protect themselves and each other and their employee's jobs. And so it's also helped take the edge off of my ease in which I can villainize other firms and appreciate that everybody has P&L and they run it differently. But these things are human things, and they impact every business. Helped the numbers somehow, have helped me, Preston, with empathy. I'm able to use those to be more empathetic, not less. And that's been kind of cool and surprising to me.

Preston Howell [00:24:02]:
Well, and it's the education behind the numbers. Right. And we see that with any data project we do with any client, it's like, you can make the coolest dashboard ever, but if people don't understand the numbers on it, it's not going to make a dent. And so now, so much of GGOB for us this year is we've been educating people and we've been showing the numbers. So now we're seeing these numbers for the first time, and we have this framework to understand them that we didn't have before.

Jess Carter [00:24:31]:
Yeah, no, that's right. Again. Now, my intrigue here is, while you are so, so smart and so, so inclined to GGOB, I also heard you say last week, I will work a full day for a pizza. So that is also so entertaining to me because it brings the lightheartedness of, like, we're just human beings like Preston, you know the numbers and you know that 8 hours of your time is not worth a pizza, but you just love it so much that you'll do it.

Preston Howell [00:25:00]:
Absolutely. I still am far too motivated by food where it's know the friend moving like, oh yeah, I'll feed you. Great. Yeah, I'm there.

Jess Carter [00:25:10]:
I don't think that's too motivated by food. I think that's cool. It's neat that you're motivated by food, and it makes you happy. And I think that it's fun to be like we can be. So then we get into the minigames too, where we have these. I don't know if we've explained those, but minigames are like if you want a certain behavioral change, that you can sort of create this smaller game that runs a shorter period of time, that tries to generate these different outcomes. Am I getting that largely right, Preston?

Preston Howell [00:25:32]:
Yeah. What we were told is, if you have a suggestion box, throw it away, do minigames instead. Right. So if there's this process of your business where right now you say, hey, give us feedback, and then somebody in a room reads it and decides what to do, it's like, now scrap that. If you see something that's broken in the business, get a group of people who can fix that together to fix it, understand how that's going to impact the business, and then go achieve it and celebrate it. Find ways to make it memorable and to celebrate it. I just found out we're doing a minigame together, Jess. And I just found out that part of how you're motivating me is by putting things from my desk in Jello, which is really annoying.

Preston Howell [00:26:17]:
But it's an Office-themed minigame, so I don't hate it. And the reality, Jess, is this minigame to update contacts in our CRM, which is not the most exciting tasks ever. I'm going to remember for the rest of my career. Because you had the audacity to steal my nail clippers from my desk and put them in Jello. Right. And so you've now created a memory from the most boring part of our organization. And it's like I'm going to remember that for the rest of my career.

Jess Carter [00:26:49]:
I'm glad you outed me on the podcast. I'm glad you figured out that it was Jello like between us kicking. I didn't know if you really put that together until right now.

Preston Howell [00:26:58]:
Absolutely. Yeah.

Jess Carter [00:26:59]:
No, I knew that I was looking at all your trinkets on your desk. That's why we didn't go to get dinner with you is Catherine and I had to go back to make Jello. And I was like, what do I pick? And I was looking at all your trinkets, and you had these really cool. You have like these little rock climbing rope trinkets.

Preston Howell [00:27:16]:
Very cool.

Jess Carter [00:27:17]:
Yeah. And we were nervous we were going to ruin some of it. And so I found your office nail clippers. I couldn't help myself.

Preston Howell [00:27:26]:
Hey, I think it's great. Yeah. I'm glad you didn't mess with my coasters. I like these things.

Jess Carter [00:27:31]:
Yeah, that's what. They're coasters.

Preston Howell [00:27:33]:
They're coasters from old climbing rope.

Jess Carter [00:27:35]:
Super cool.

Preston Howell [00:27:36]:

Jess Carter [00:27:36]:

Preston Howell [00:27:37]:
It's somebody on Etsy. They figured out how to repurpose climbing rope to make coasters.

Jess Carter [00:27:41]:
That is seriously awesome. Brad will want those immediately. We will be ordering those later. We'll see if they'll sponsor the podcast. Maybe they will.

Preston Howell [00:27:50]:
You never know.

Jess Carter [00:27:51]:
But you're right. So the minigames have been. And by the way, it has been a lot of work to try and make contacts exciting. But it has also been really fun like, it has been the most memorable part of my year has been trying to figure out how to make it entertaining and fun and cool to do when it's not something that's really exciting. But it is important, and we know that as a company. So, the minigame concept has been. I mean, I think we've used, I bet we've done 20 games as a company this year. Minigames of just how do we make improvements in the business, see them, say something, and change it.

Jess Carter [00:28:21]:
And that's been neat, too, to see people empowered to do that.

Preston Howell [00:28:24]:
Yeah. And again, it's educating people then, because you're saying, here's this problem. And it's not just, I have a suggestion box of like, here's my issue, somebody go solve it. It's like saying, I think in your position, you're like, I know if we had more up-to-date contact information, we could send out better client satisfaction surveys, which lets us get a better sense of how we're doing. And more importantly, that lets us adjust faster. If we have delivery that's slipping anywhere, and it's like, the impact that will have to the business is massive. And if by cleaning up our contacts, we can get a 50% higher response rate, and if one of the hundred people we send it to has some sort of feedback that we would not have gotten otherwise. We just paid for all of the work.

Preston Howell [00:29:13]:
And for the dumb Jello that you bought.

Jess Carter [00:29:18]:
It was like $45 in Jello. Catherine thought we needed so much.

Preston Howell [00:29:24]:
That's a lot of jello.

Jess Carter [00:29:25]:
I know. Ask her where it is. I think we left some in the office if you guys want to make some.

Preston Howell:
I'm good.

Jess Carter:
Okay, so then maybe my last question I have is, I would have never known that this was an opportunity that we could take on GGOB. I'd never heard of it. So thank goodness for you guys. What about people who want to learn more about GGOB? What about where to get started if you really are serious about it?

Preston Howell [00:29:51]:
Yeah. So we got into it initially because somebody on our leadership team read the book. There's a book called the Great Game of Business, and it tells the story of SRC corporation. Jack Stack wrote it, and he goes into this organization that he helped buy with some other people that was not performing well and how they used this idea of open book management and gamification to turn it around, get people excited, and create generational wealth through it. And so the guy on our leadership team read that and he was like, dang, that's a pretty cool concept. I want to learn more. I want to talk about this more. So that book is great.

Preston Howell [00:30:42]:
I read it on a canoe in the boundary waters the summer of 2020, and it was a great read. And I was on a canoe. It was great. So if you want to read it on a canoe, that makes it more memorable, especially if you're on like a multi day backpacking trip. It's like, it makes it a lot more memorable. So, yeah, I recommend that, too. And then I'll throw this out there, but feel free to reach out to me. It's been one of the pleasures of my career over the last three, four years, has been doing GGOB in Dallas, and I kind of got voluntold to do it there.

Preston Howell [00:31:20]:
And then as we rolled it out to the rest of the organization, I was able to help train and educate. And now we have this new group of people leading it. And each week I get to join, and I just watch. And so it's been really cool seeing this grow and seeing people like you who had no clue about it, get excited about it and see the impact of it. So, yeah, people can reach out to me. I'm sure my contact info is somewhere. And I would love to, love to have a chit-chat about GGOB.

Jess Carter [00:31:50]:
And best place to find you would be on LinkedIn. Preston Howell on LinkedIn. Okay.

Preston Howell [00:31:55]:
Yeah. Preston Howell on LinkedIn.

Jess Carter [00:31:57]:
Awesome. Well, thank you for hanging out with me and talking about GGOB, Preston.

Preston Howell [00:32:01]:
Yeah. Thank you, Jess.

Jess Carter [00:32:03]:
Is there anything we need to talk about? And we haven't.

Preston Howell [00:32:08]:
Not something we haven't talked about, but just as, like, bringing it back to the beginning. The reason we do this open book thing is for our employees. And I just think that's, if there are any business leaders listening to this who are intrigued by this idea of open book management and what it can do to the business, you do this for the employee. You do this as a means of educating and affirming. You do this so that everybody in the business gets to think strategically about the business. Because everybody in the business you hired for a reason. They're a person. They're smart, they've got a good brain.

Preston Howell [00:32:42]:
So have them think strategically instead of just you thinking strategically. You'll do way better things as a business, and the people will be happier because they aren't just a widget that's there to make you money. They are there to actually think strategically and drive the business forward. Right. So you do it for the employee. There are certainly great side effects of better business performance, but you're doing it for your people more than anything else. It's for your people.

Jess Carter [00:33:13]:
Love it. Thank you, Preston. Thank you for listening. I'm your host, Jess Carter. And don't forget to follow Data Driven Leadership. Wherever you get your podcasts, rate, and review, letting us know how these data topics are transforming your business. We can't wait for you to join us on the next episode.

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