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10 Reasons and Tips for Overcoming Your Fear of Transparency

Jun 14, 2019 by Mark Van De Wege 0 Comments

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Transparency is key to playing The Great Game of Business®, but it raises concerns for many folks new to the open-book world. Does transparency mean sharing everyone’s salaries? Will competitors know our confidential information? Will transparency make my company vulnerable?

It can be scary to pull back the curtain. But practiced skillfully, transparency is part of a formula for success rather than a risk for overexposure. Take a look at our top tips on business transparency and practicing GGOB.

Two Benefits of Transparency in Business

Transparency promotes two qualities of success: Empowerment and engagement.

  1. Empowerment: Sharing information empowers employees and leadership alike. Involving everyone in discussions about how to generate more sales, how to be more profitable and operate more efficiently, for example, creates a culture of empowerment and accountability.
  2. Engagement: Engaged employees think and act like owners. An engaged employee will choose to go above and beyond every day, and will work collaboratively to find solutions that are in the best interest of everyone involved… the staff, the client, the vendors and the firm.


Two Myths About Transparency

Two common myths about open-book management (OBM) are that compensation won’t remain confidential and that it could reveal the business’ ‘secret sauce’ to competitors. With the appropriate business practices, these roadblocks to transparency are not concerns.

  1. Compensation: Even though we practice open book management at Anthony Wilder, salaries are confidential. We do not disclose individual compensation, rather we group salaries and benefits into several categories so as not to identify or expose any one person’s salary when we review our scoreboard.
  2. Proprietary Business Practices: Our scoreboard is confidential company information and it is treated as such and is not shared with competitors. Our perspective is that the risk of not sharing what makes a company successful is more harmful than sharing our financials.  We have confidentiality clauses in our employment agreements, and we trust our staff to not disclose our private information.


Two Things to Know Before Implementing Transparency in Your Business

For an owner, it seems easier to make all the decisions because they can be made quickly and without a lot of back-and-forth. But quick and easy is sometimes what leads to a lack of empowerment, engagement and efficiency.

  1. Achieving transparency takes time. Transparency is not a process you put into place in a day, a week or a month, it’s a way of doing business. Regular weekly  Huddles around a scoreboard create a natural environment for transparency and a place to share information, upcoming challenges, and achievements. Over time, a culture of credibility, trust, and open communication evolves.
  2. Transparency means we learn from our mistakes. We share ALL the news so that we can ALL learn from our failures and successes.  This creates a supportive, cooperative and learning culture.


Two Times Transparency Helped Anthony Wilder Thrive

  1. Surviving the recession: In 2008, with the help of our scoreboard, the entire team could see that we had to take drastic measures. We implemented pay cuts for everyone in the company in order to survive the recession. What happened next surprised us. You can hear the full story here.  Additionally, we made a promise to pay back every penny of the reduced salaries. By April 2011, we had paid back every employee… plus 5% interest, and we had restored salaries to their normal levels.
  2. Employee ownership: With employees thinking and acting like owners, it was time to make it official. In 2016, 23 Anthony Wilder team members became employee owners of the company.


Two Tips to Maintaining a Culture of Transparency

Implementing, practicing, and living transparency is an ongoing endeavor. If you are new to playing The Game, these are the two most important things that will help you succeed at maintaining your culture of transparency:

  1. Hire a GGOB coach: It is possible to implement on your own, but is it the quickest, most effective, and most impactful way to kick-start your Game?
  2. Appoint an internal GGOB champion: Each company needs a dedicated person (or people) to keep The Game on track and progressing forward in the ups and downs of The Game in your organization. 

Whether you’re starting out, or a longtime GGOB player, we are all here for you. Please reach out if we can help. 

Join Mark Van De Wage and Liz Wilder in their breakout session at the 27th Annual Gathering of Games September 4-6, 2019 in Dallas, Texas to learn more about what transparency in business can do in your organization.



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Topics: The Annual Gathering of Games, Transparency, Gathering 2019 Speaker

Written by Mark Van De Wege

Mark Van De Wege and Liz Wilder from Anthony Wilder Design/Build with be presenting at the 27th Annual Gathering of Games.

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About The Great Game of Business

Our approach to running a company was developed to help close one of the biggest gaps in business: the gap between managers and employees. We call our open-book approach The Great Game of Business. What lies at the heart of The Game is a very simple proposition: The best, most efficient, most profitable way to operate a business is to give everybody in the company a voice in saying how the company is run and a stake in the outcome. Let us teach you how to develop a culture of ownership, where employees think, act and feel like owners.