Springfield Remanufacturing Corporation (SRC) is well-known for high-involvement business planning structure.
What if each of us in a leadership role simply made a point of working to make hope happen for the people we work with every single day? Within a few weeks, hope levels would have certainly gone up. By the end of a year, we’d have hope deeply embedded in the culture; the climate of the organization couldn’t help but be significantly sunnier than it would have been before you started.
If you’re like most business leaders, you’re always looking for ways to educate, empower and engage your employees. Want proof? Studies show that 90 percent of leaders think an engagement strategy will have an impact on business success. The only problem? Barely 25 percent of them have a strategy for implementing it. The same goes for open-book management. It sounds like a great concept, sure, but many leaders are afraid of actually taking the plunge. Fortunately, that’s what open-book management workshops are all about. They’re a way of getting everyone in the company — at all levels of business — as informed, involved and engaged as the owner is in making the company successful.
I hear it almost every day: “But we are different…” or “That could never work with our organization because…”
Five years ago as the CEO of a well-established nonprofit, I also used the same excuses when approached by one of my board members, Tim Stack, about using the Great Game of Business in my nonprofit. Tim was the General Manager of one of the SRC subsidiaries and literally grew up with the Great Game of Business. Over the next four years he worked one-on- one with me to breakdown all of the misconceptions that I had about why nonprofits could not apply the same principles found in The Great Game of Business. I had a Master’s in Nonprofit Management and was never exposed to the concepts that Tim was discussing with me.
Opening the books only works when people are taught to understand them — which is best done both formally and informally. When The Game is created with broad participation — specifically the people who are closest to the action and who understand the realities — it creates a level of commitment and alignment that just can't be matched.
Learning about open-book management is one thing; putting it into practice is quite another. Because it’s such a big business strategy change, many business owners are hesitant to take the plunge. To help you envision how to get started with open-book management (OBM), here’s a Q&A with a real-life practitioner who recently implemented OBM at her company:
This is NOT a regurgitation of the obvious reasons great employees stay.
Because great employees show up, deliver results and consistently go above and beyond to support the company, they could easily jump ship for a better job offer, or, if bold enough, strike out on their own. But they don't.
For the last two years, we have been implementing open-book management in a small community craft center near Kruger National Park in South Africa. Fifteen years ago, I implemented open-book management in a highway construction and materials company in St. Louis, Missouri. Even though the businesses, cultures, education level and many other things are vastly different, I have noticed some similarities between the two in ideas that work well with people on opposite sides of the planet.
The Great Game approach to management is a practical science of observing what actually gets results. Through a long process of trial and error, I have discovered some universal commonalities in human behavior, despite residing on different continents.
I feel better knowing. Not knowing is scary.
Many people don’t like knowing and practice living “Ignorance is bliss.” I am a bit too neurotic and controlling to accept ignorance as my default lifestyle choice. I am uncomfortable with the unknown, and, if I am left to my own thoughts, I am good at conjuring up a slew of conspiracy theories around a multitude of good and terrible things that are “going” to happen.
The power of transparency — and how it positively affects your brand — is often lost on some leaders, and I understand that. When you lead a major corporation, you might feel that being more transparent means you’ll have to show your cards to clients and customers, or give away more than you’re comfortable with. And what happens if you share anything that’s not business-related and alienate someone in your audience? That fear keeps many leaders from sharing an authentic story and truly connecting with their key audiences.
Business leaders often ask, “I know we need to keep people informed. But what kind of information do they really need?”
I’ve been studying this issue for more than 30 years. Our research is pretty clear about what information people need to perform at their peak. There are five information categories: