The Great Game of Business Blog

Sign up to receive our blog posts conveniently in your email box

Perception vs. Reality: Roadblocks to Transparency and Where to Begin

Jan 30, 2019 by Steve Baker 1 Comment

perception v reality  (1)

What if you could open your books tomorrow without worry or fear? What would it take? In this blog, Great Game of Business Vice President, Steve Baker, addresses common concerns when opening the books and how employee misunderstandings and assumptions can be far more dangerous than business transparency


3 Common Fears:

Q: What if people see my numbers and figure out how much I make?

A: Open-book does not mean sharing every detail. Great Game companies rarely, if ever, share salary information. It’s divisive. It’s distracting. It doesn’t help you teach people business. And frankly, they already think you’re making more than you are.

Q: What if people see how much the company is making, and they want more?

A: They already want more. In fact, you want more, too. Everyone does, and you want them to. You want your team to be ambitious, hungry and wanting more. That’s how you’ll grow and be sustainable over the long haul.

Q: What if the numbers are bad; won’t people run for the hills?

A: Look, most people, (if given the chance) will ask, “What can I do to help?” Opening the books may be the first time in their lives they are treated like adults. Given the facts, people are much better equipped and far more likely to be able to deal with difficult situations.

The Dangers of Assumptions and Misunderstandings

Frankly, it’s hard to make money in business. For some context, Walmart makes just 3 cents on every dollar of sales. The vast majority of businesses hover well under 10. In fact, the median bottom line among companies across 212 industries in the U.S. is just 6.5 cents. 

But how much does the average employee think their company makes? The answer: 36 cents.


How about that for a gap between perception and reality? That is a six-fold gap in awareness between what companies really make and what their employees think they make. What kind of decisions are they making under the assumption you’re making 6 times the profit you really are? If open-book is scary, closed-book is downright terrifying.

The reason this knowledge gap exists is that people are coming to work every day without any information. In a vacuum of information, people fill it with misinformation, rumor & fantasy.

So Where Do I Begin?

How can you open your books tomorrow? There are numerous, awesome approaches we have seen over the last 35 years, but here's one tried and true method: teach your people just how hard it is to make money and generate cash.

Stop the rumors and change the narrative by opening your books and teaching your people how much money your business really makes…and how hard it truly is.


Close the knowledge gap by teaching your employees the financials in our financial literacy eLearning module.


Other articles you might like:

New call-to-action

Topics: Transparency

Steve Baker
Written by Steve Baker

Steve Baker is vice president of The Great Game of Business, Inc. Steve coauthored Get in the Game as well as the update of the number one bestseller, The Great Game of Business—20th Anniversary Edition. Known for his engaging and irreverent style, Steve is a top-rated, sought-after speaker and coach on open-book management, strategy and execution, leadership, and employee engagement. His audiences range from Harvard University to the Department of Defense, and he is a regular at Inc. magazine’s Inc. 5000 Conference. He has served on the Board of the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO) and SRC Holding’s Ownership Culture Initiative. Steve is an award-winning artist and lives in Springfield, Missouri, with his trophy wife, JoAnn, and three above-average children.

More than 376,500 Times the GGOB Blog Has Been a Trusted Source for Information on OBM

Lists by Topic

see all

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.