In some countries that have strong underlying power distance, like India, employees can fear transparency, and due to traditional business organizational structure, lack accountability. But, one of the best ways to motivate employees and hold them accountable is through gamification. By turning responsibilities in the workplace into a game, thus making everything a competition, employees are far more likely to achieve their goals. Indian vertically integrated company, Quantified Commerce,makes educating their employees in the Great Game of Business a top priority.
The Great Game of Business is a wildly popular book by Jack Stack about how to implement open-book management within a company, and how to educate employees on becoming world-class players in the “great game.” He took all the components that make up a game — teams, rules, scores, and results — and applied them to a failing division of a company he set out to save — International Harvester. By applying the principles of the Great Game, Stack was able to save International Harvester from collapse, and with his inspired employees, turned it into a thriving business that brings in over $300 million annually. This kind of commitment eventually made all the employees of International Harvester millionaires, as the stock rose from a dime share up to $15.60. A rise of 13,000% in four years.
The Great Game of Business is built on the principles of gamification and open-book management. While one can literally fill up a book with these ideas, let’s just summarize the basic idea. Every employee needs to know the rules of the game, so managers should always be transparent with their employees and teach what it takes to reach objectives. Keeping the big picture in mind also helps keep employees productive — a theory that is shared with 4DX’s “Wildly Important Goals” (WIGs).
The next important point is constantly keeping score. Scoreboards are essential in providing a visualization as to the team’s progress. This helps keep a healthy level of competition. It also helps employees keep themselves motivated and productive.
The final point is giving your employees a stake in the success of the company. It’s necessary to give your employees an incentive to achieve success through annual bonuses and recognition. Celebrating every win, big or small, is a must to keep morale up. These three basic principles have worked for International Harvester and thousands of companies around the world.
Quantified Commerce is one such company. But, because of the cultural complexities and organizational infrastructure of India, they take the Great Game a step further, by emphasizing constant education.
India is an exciting and interesting place to do business in right now. With increased Internet penetration, the E-commerce market is expected to see a growth of 1,200% by 2026. Investment is pouring into the country as companies hope to take advantage of the ample opportunities. But, getting past a deeply ingrained traditional corporate culture that amplifies the distance between employees and management can be a daunting task. But, Quantified Commerce hasn’t let that intimidate them.
“We run a flat organization, which in itself can be a complicated thing to accomplish in India because employees report directly to me instead of middle manager,” says Agam Berry, co-founder of Quantified Commerce. “India has a PDI (power distance index) of 77, which means that employees are going to hesitant approaching execs directly with inquiries, especially with problems. That’s why we spend between one and two hours every single working day reeducating our Indian employees out of this high-PDI frame-of-mind. They constantly get tested on the principles of the Great Game and 4DX. They go through daily Scrum meetings so they can have a scoreboard for a visual representation of the tasks at hand to have competition drive motivation. We also inform them about updates within the company and technology advancements within the field. We practice complete transparency and enforce accountability.”
Transparency is of the utmost importance because disengagement is a huge problem for many companies. They don’t know what the company goals are, and therefore don’t know how their job is affecting the bigger picture. Disengagement is one of the major reasons behind poor retention. “With education and constant growth, and by using scoreboards, we keep them engaged and our staff performs to the 2-3 times better than employees in other companies. Retention isn’t a problem for us,” Berry says.
While the training is rigorous the reward is great. “The employees and teams are recognized through praise and are able to earn a bonus of up to 20% of their total salary if they accomplish all the goals they’ve set out for themselves every single month,” Berry says. They work hard and play hard, too: “Our employees’ happiness and success ultimately decide the success of Quantified Commerce.”