The Right - And Wrong - Way To Implement Open-Book Management
Over the years, I’ve returned time and time again to one key question: Does great culture drive open-book management or does open-book management drive great culture? As a leader, I’ve done my due diligence investigating the answer and, after much careful thought and research (and some trial and error), I’ve learned that, for my company, culture had to come first. After a lot of hard work, our company, Mojo Media Labs, is now in the beginning stages of successfully implementing open-book management (OBM), a business practice by The Great Game of Business, to create financial transparency and literacy among team members. There are a few reasons why we’re drawn to an open-book philosophy. Not only will this practice help us build a financially healthy company, it will encourage each and every team member to think and act like an owner. As our finances improve, so will our culture, and vice versa.
Now, we’ve got the culture, the plan, and the people to begin implementing open-book management and, so far, the results have been remarkable.
The Right Culture for Open-Book Management
Until recently, my understanding of open-book management came from the experiences of others in the business community. Over the years, we’ve tried a few times to implement open-book practices on our own, but it never quite succeeded. OBM requires day-to-day attention, and we often had to let it fall to the wayside in favor of other priorities. We were self implementing and still working through pain points in our culture, and open-book management doesn’t work as an afterthought.
So, instead, we focused on building a great, values-driven culture. We developed specific core values, created a comfortable environment (think free snacks, open layout, work-from-home Wednesdays, etc.), and hired talent based on culture fit. There were some growing pains, sure, but once we finally got the culture right, there was an intangible greatness in the air. Our team was packed with incredible people, everyone was firing on all cylinders for our core values and our client retention and satisfaction were off the charts.
Things were getting easier, so it was time to ask ourselves, how can we get better? That’s when we knew we were truly ready to dig deeper and move forward with open-book management.
Implementing Open-Book Management
With a great culture in place, we started exploring our options for implementing open-book management. Great Game of Business is one of our clients and when we broached the topic with them, we were transparent about our fears. We’d gone down this road before and we weren’t successful. For us, working with a GGOB coach was the right move. They had a thoughtful solution to every fear we presented, and within months, we were in the beginning stages of implementing OBM.
The process starts with our design team. We’re dedicating three months to test-driving OBM with a group of key team members. We hold a huddle every Friday, and we communicate our process to the rest of the team. In May 2017, we will roll out the process company-wide. May also marks the launch of our new bonus program tied to the GGOB philosophy — an idea that was one of my first indicators OBM was the right move for us.
When we first approached our team about implementing open-book practices, the buy-in was enthusiastic. They were engaged, excited and ready to jump in. That was before we announced there would be a new bonus plan in it for them, too. Moments like this demonstrate our great culture at work. Our team rose to the occasion before they knew anything was “in it” for them, and now we have the foundation we need to implement a bonus plan tied to company goals that we can all rally around.
It just so happens that Mojo Media Labs was in the position to move to new offices in March of 2017. At this point, our OBM trial run was well underway with our design team, and we were gearing up to begin our first company-wide MiniGame™. In our new offices, a big wall is one of the centerpieces of the space. Almost like we planned it (we didn’t!), this wall will be the new home to our mini-games and weekly huddles. When we fully launch OBM, our huddle wall will serve as a gathering place for a weekly hands-on meeting, physically displaying critical numbers and MiniGame progress. It will be a dedicated space for our OBM practices, and it will help hold us accountable.
We’ve been in business ten years, and as we launch open-book management, this marks a turning point in our company. Not only does it indicate a significant investment in the financial health of our company, it marks a milestone for our company culture, vision and fulfillment of purpose. I'm proud that we now have the culture to implement OBM and hope that it will further expand each employee's sense of ownership and responsibility in the company.
I’m excited and honored to share the unfolding of this journey with you, and I hope that three months from now, I’ll return to report on our progress. Our goals for this new practice are important yet attainable: we want everyone on the team to have a very solid level of awareness and literacy of company finances. We want our people to have meaningful answers when they are asked, “How’s your company doing?” Most importantly, we want them to know and understand how they can impact the company in their individual roles, elevating their sense of purpose and advancing our larger mission as a company.
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