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Great Scott
by Dennis Conrad

Great Scott
By Dennis Conrad

The casino world could use many more Scott Beemans.
And now it doesn't even have one.

Scott Beeman recently retired from the gaming industry after thirty-some years of service. The last dozen years were spent as a General Manager for a variety of properties of two major gaming corporations: Harrah's Entertainment, where you might expect to find someone like Scott Beeman, and Mandalay Resort Group (Circus Circus Enterprises), where you certainly wouldn't.

Early in my career, I only knew of Scott Beeman and had never met him personally. If he were an insurance company, it would have been Northwestern Mutual - you know, the QUIET Company. But what I heard about Scott spoke volumes.

"One of the good guys."
"A straight-shooter."
"Great to work for."
And the one compliment you rarely hear – "He's different."

Yes, Scott Beeman was different.

In the next few years of my budding casino management career, I had several occasions to meet Scott and watch him in action as a General Manager. Quiet, almost shy. Obviously intelligent, but (unlike most high-flying GM types) not trying to impress or intimidate you with that intelligence. The kind of guy who chooses his words carefully.

He was "The Professor" in the non-academic "gaming" business.

Yes, Scott Beeman certainly was different.

It wasn't until a few years later that I actually got to work with Scott Beeman. Adrift in a new senior management role in a company undergoing severe organizational change, I was placed in the awkward position of having my executive role eliminated only six months after it had been created. A normal person would run from such chaos. I had 2 1/2 years remaining on a 3-year contract, however, and my newly reorganized company, for some strange reason, had no intention of letting me out of the arrangement.

Enter Scott Beeman.

Before I had to choose where to spend the last 2 1/2 years with my "reengineered" gaming company, I found out the company had hired Scott Beeman and was sending him to Reno. Knowing of Scott's reputation, I asked to be sent to Reno, shunning other higher profile properties in the company.
And for 2 1/2 wonderful years I was able to turn a forced (but lucrative) exile into a wonderful learning experience with Scott Beeman.

Yes, Scott Beeman was different.

One of the first things Scott did in our relationship, rather than "define it" (like most other General Managers would do), was to teach me where he was "coming from." He sent me to a Systems Thinking Workshop in San Francisco. I'd like to tell you that the experience was a powerful, life-changing event, (actually it was a tedious pain in the – ) but it was here that I learned that systems, organizations, and situations are complex and that you must deal directly with your own preconceived ideas and try to create LEVERAGE at key organizational points.

Yes, Scott Beeman was different.

I watched him execute a variety of team-building exercises, communication improvement devices and experiments aimed at making our business lives simpler. I learned about his famous management meeting, where all of his senior managers bring all of their inter-office mail into one room, and then systematically reduce their bureaucracy by eliminating over 50% of this pile of paper.

Scott Beeman taught me the "skip a level" meetings where an executive meets not with his or her direct reports, but those one level removed from them. It sure eliminates one filter and forces your managers to have the same, honest meetings – if they don't want any surprises.

Scott taught me not to kick around a good, creative idea until it was dead or deformed, but to ask the key question, "How quickly can we test that?" At our management meetings, you didn't just bring the idea, but also the commitment to try it out.

Yes, Scott Beeman was different.

He had the patience of Job and allowed situations and individuals to cool and settle before acting. From him I learned the powerful strategy of "doing nothing," especially when your competitors were acting suicidal.

Scott will be the first to admit he wasn't perfect – his shyness kept him from spending more time with customers and his big heart made him stick with failing managers too long. But no one held it against him.

Scott Beeman was different.

He kept the onerous "corporate hand" out of our business. He pushed us to quit doing the stupid stuff. He challenged us to become "easy to do business with." He had us doing experiments all the time – some would make you laugh, some were pure genius.

He led not with a stick, but by asking questions.

Yes, Scott Beeman was different.

And that's why he made a difference in the gaming industry.


DENNIS CONRAD is the president of Raving Consulting Co., which specializes in
Common Sense, Customer Focused, Marketing Consulting for the gaming industry.
He can be reached at: 475 Hill Street, Suite G, Reno, NV 89501 • telephone: (775) 329-7864
fax (775) 329-4947 Web Site: www.ravingconsulting.com • email: thebest@ravingconsulting.com

Date Posted: 15-Oct-2009

DENNIS CONRAD is the president of Raving Consulting Co., which specializes in Common Sense, Customer Focused, Marketing Consulting for the gaming industry.
He can be reached at: 475 Hill Street, Suite G, Reno, NV 89501 • telephone: (775) 329-7864
fax (775) 329-4947 Web Site: www.ravingconsulting.com • email: thebest@ravingconsulting.com

 
 
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