Providence-based Anchor Communications, a $4-million magazine publisher, projected a 1995 year-end cash shortfall of $350,000. So chief operating officer Danny Warshay enlisted the entire company's help. He first trained the staff about cash flow and then asked for ideas about improving it. The goal: to make the company cash positive by 1996. In return, Warshay promised prizes, such as a fancy all-staff lunch.

Employees responded with a variety of cash-boosting ideas. Their suggestions ranged from saving on electricity to creating a magazine-sponsored gift certificate good at many local restaurants. (Anchor sold the gift certificates to magazine readers but reimbursed the restaurants only when a certificate was redeemed. In between, "it was basically an interest-free loan," says Warshay.) The result: the company met its cash-flow goal by year's end. "It came down to the wire, but we did it," Warshay recalls.