Open-Book Management in the News

Nicklaus: People-first culture sets Barry-Wehmiller apart

BarryWehmillerIn 1983, Barry-Wehmiller was so shaky that its office coffee machine was repossessed. Today it’s a global manufacturer with $2 billion in annual sales and a reputation for consistent profitability.

Bob Chapman, 70, the chief executive, has led the packaging equipment company through the bad and good times, but neither growth nor financial success leads his personal list of accomplishments.

He’s much prouder of the corporate culture he’s helped create, and how that culture affects Clayton-based Barry-Wehmiller’s 11,000 employees. If there is one thing he’d still like to accomplish, it would be to spread the culture of caring throughout corporate America.  Click here to read more.

Restaurants find empowering workers leads to profits

BostonGlobeArticleLooking back on a career spanning 43 years, Henry Patterson sees a lot to be proud of. Bel Canto, an Italian restaurant he founded when he was just 23, became a chain. As a consultant, he has mentored dozens of Boston’s most successful restaurateurs.

But one ugly truth nags at him: The restaurant business — his business — stands on the backs of legions of low-paid employees who toil long hours at unenviable jobs. “Most of the people who work for us have jobs that don’t go anywhere and don’t pay a livable wage,” Patterson said. “We created a monster, and I just accepted it.”

Now, he is hoping to leave a legacy promoting an unusual restaurant management technique that rewards employees, from dishwasher to waiters, for finding ways their workplace can save money and boost revenues.

Dubbed “open-book” management — so named because it opens the financial books to the entire staff — it might sound like yet another self-help fad of the business kind. But it’s hard to argue with its early success.  Click here to read more.

A STAKE IN THE OUTCOME – How Open Book Management creates a savvy, mutually-accountable, and motivated home building team.

StakeintheOutcomeArticleFor the more than 20 years that SAI has worked with home building companies to help them improve operating performance and business outcomes, we have consistently maintained that the key lies in getting the job done–viewing the issue, sustaining the effort, and obtaining the results–in the four critical dimensions we call discipline, context, perspective, and focus.

  • the discipline to focus the operating model–the combination of processes, management systems, business structure, and culture–on its ability to deliver exceptional levels of distinctive value demanded by a narrow segment of homebuyers;
  • a perspective towards workflow, the natural, horizontal, process-centered manner in which work is performed and value is created on behalf of home buyers and other stakeholders;
  • a focus derived from a constraint-management approach, one that understands operations must be managed and problems must be solved without the benefit of unlimited resources, whether time, capacity, or money;
  • perhaps, most importantly, the context created by a business logic that underlies everything else.

That context–the business logic that underlies everything else–is a function of what is known as Open Book Management.  Click here to read more.

The work perks keep staff happy

WorkPerkRather than offering employees perks such as yoga or after-work drinks, staff at chartered accountancy firm O’Connells OBM are given a say in how the company is run and a share of its profits. Director Adam Dierselhuis says his employees help set goals and decided how they are achieved as part of an “open-book management” philosophy, based on the book of the same name by John Case.

“Basically, it’s allowing employees to think and act like a business owner, so they participate in the management and running of the practice. It’s their business, it’s their baby,’’ Dierselhuis says. Five of the 18 staff own 15 per cent of the Brisbane company.

“It comes back to staff feeling part of something … they like working with their colleagues towards something greater than themselves.’’

Dierselhuis says staff members have been encouraged to pursue particular skill sets, resulting in four spin-off companies in IT, software, education and financial planning to meet clients’ needs. Click here to read more.

Concentration on corporate culture, safety a winning formula for Team 1 Plastics

Team 1 stresses employee relations, and the most visible way is the emphasis on worker safety. The company immerses new hires in the safety-focused culture from their first day. There are big posters in the plant highlighting the company’s latest safety milestone.

The break room walls also have photos of safety milestone celebrations — the company has one every 500 days, and recently celebrated 5,000 days without a lost time accident. Sometimes it also treats employees to special dinners, outings at a local casino, raffles and jackets.

But safety isn’t just about parties. The company has monthly safety meetings, and everyone is involved.

Another area that involves everyone is profit sharing. The company has had an open-book management philosophy with workers since 1999, so workers always know exactly how the company is doing.

When Team 1 had to downsize during the Great Recession, workers knew why.

“I tell people, ‘Profitable companies don’t go out of business,’” Carrel said. “This helps workers make better decisions based on the profitability of the business.” Click here to read more.

Should you be using open-book management?

According to Gallup, employee engagement is hovering at 13% globally – perhaps this is one of the drivers behind the growing popularity of open-book management (OBM) in popularity in recent years…

One company to have adopted this approach more recently is O’Connells OBM, a Brisbane based accounting practice.

At its core, the management style is about having a positive impact on the lives of its team by engaging, educating and empowering them to feel like business owners. O’Connells’ technique has allegedly provided everyone in the firm’s office with a “story and purpose behind why they’re there”.

One of the firm’s employees claimed that businesses that incorporate OBM can help employees create and build a sense of purpose by including them in developing and owning the company’s vision and values.

“They take a sense of fulfilment home every night,” she said. Click here to read more.


An Afternoon with the CEO of New Belgium Brewery

Kim-Jordan_NBB-pdf“We practice open book management, high involvement culture, and shared equity. This 100% ESOP is a way to take what we’ve always done and drive it even deeper into the organization.

We’re also building a brewery in Ashville, North Carolina. That’s a $140 million project so it’s keeping us pretty busy. We’ve been planning it all for two years now. Now is the exciting phase where we can see what we’ve been planning for a long time come into being. We are looking at strategic opportunities both inside the industry and in other things that we like or are good at.”  Click here to read more.

Sustainable Drinking: Making Beer With a

New Belgium practices open book management, allowing coworkers access to company financials and management’s decision-making processes. Their annual company retreat brings together all 570 coworkers for several days. Each coworker is essentially an Employee Owner who helps make decisions about the upcoming year’s business plan, celebrate successes and reconnect with the New Belgium’s vision. Click here to read more. 

The Benefits of Open Book Finance

What is positive business? It’s the idea that businesses can and should create not just economic value, but also offer great places to work, become a great neighbor, and help solve some of the world’s biggest challenges.

So how does that apply to finance? Michigan Ross Professor Wayne Baker says opening your books to employees — and showing how they drive the numbers — can improve company performance and keep people energized. Click here to read more.

Leadership Lessons from a world-class Midwestern deli

“There are inherent benefits in staying small and putting employees first.”

– Bo Burlingham, editor-at-large, Inc. Magazine

The company’s most striking feature is its environment, which combines a strong sense of community, a deep belief in people, a fascination with management and business, and a passion for great food and great service. This entrepreneurial environment enables good ideas to become real businesses, and employees with good ideas have an opportunity to become owners. The people who work there are drawn to its irresistible vision. There are currently 17 partners and they use an open-book management philosophy founded on the idea that even the lowest-level employee will work better if he or she knows how the company is doing financially and has a stake in its success. Click here to read more.  

Goodall Homes leads the way among Middle Tennessee homebuilders

“We use an open book management system … We do a lot of training, educating and team building to get all of the employees engaged in what we are doing,” he said. “We share all of our financial information with employees …We want to continue to build leaders and give back to our community.” Click here to read more.

MSSU to develop open-book approach to finances

gather_dataMissouri Southern State University is preparing to launch an open-book management initiative that will be the first of its kind in the world of higher education.

“Open-book management simply means that you open up the books and teach the employees how to understand the books,” said Scott Cragin, a marketing and management professor and one of the faculty members tasked with developing the initiative on campus. “There’s a strong financial training component to this initiative where we’ll actually be helping employees learn and understand the financial nuances of the university.” Click here to read more.  

2015 Revolutionary 100 Garden Centers: Wojo’s Greenhouse

Why Are You Revolutionary?

We grow our own product so we can have items that are not always available from other wholesale operations. We are involved in the community, and we have open book management with our employees, includes profit sharing. We place a lot of value in continual learning and training. Click to read more.

Ogden’s Setpoint Systems wins manufacturing award

To become a top performer, Banz credited the company’s project manufacturing system and its open book financial policy. Click here to read more.

Doing Better: Worker ownership benefits these NC companies

In the 1960s, a group of teachers in West Germany developed a curriculum to teach young children the joys of music before they began any formal instruction.

The program was imported to the United States in the 1980s and renamed Kindermusik. With more than 5,000 licensed Kindermusik instructors teaching classes around the world, the company is one of the leading music education programs globally.

But here’s what really helps the Greensboro-based company stand out: 100 percent of the company is owned by its employees. Twelve years ago, the company’s employees bought out the company from its 96 investors. Simultaneously, they launched an active “open-book management” plan that deeply engages its owner-employees in every aspect of the company’s strategic and financial direction.   Click here to read more.

Looking for Your Competitive Advantage? Make a Complex Process Easy

Defining and showcasing what separates your company from the noise can be your ticket to long-standing success. But how do you find that differentiator?

Some companies have defaulted to developing new, radical processes. While this can inspire unique products, consumers ultimately want solutions to their everyday problems — and this is where you should concentrate. Streamlining traditional practices in your industry and catering to customer pain points is a surefire way to spark interest andsecure that competitive edge. Click here to read more. 

Thriving under open-management:  Kimball Physics is leading the way in design and manufacture of electron sources

KimballPhysicsThey’re leading the way in designing and manufacturing electron sources for industries as wide-ranging as the medical field and high-performance, next-generation computers. The work they do is helping to improve outcomes in breast cancer surgery. It’s contributing to the expansion of the information age, and it’s assisting with cutting-edge X-ray projects.

“We’re involved in a lot of esoteric physics experiments,” Kimball Physics President Chuck Crawford says. “Business is booming.”

But Crawford says what’s interesting about Kimball Physics has as much to do with how they’re running things as it does with what they make. Click here to read more.

Opening the books: should all staff understand company finances?

Open-book finance, an increasingly popular management system, breaks down the classic divide between workers and management — and could unlock greater productivity.  Click here to read more. 

Share your Financials to Engage your Employees

We have a different way of thinking about engagement, because we have a different idea of what it is.

Our approach begins with a question: Who do you think is more engaged in the business, the farmer or the hired hand? The building contractor or the guy pounding nails? The store owner or the clerk behind the counter? The answers are obvious, but they raise an equally obvious objection.  Click here to read more. 

We Spent What on Paper Clips?

Open-book management lets every employee look at the company’s accounts.

A few years back, an acquaintance of mine took over a family business from his dad. When I recently asked him what sorts of changes he’s been making since he grabbed the helm, he told me the idea he’s most eager to experiment with is a concept called “open-book management”—a system in which every employee, from the top managers down to the most junior guy on the factory floor, is walked through the detailed financial statements of the company on a regular basis.

“I watched my father run this business for many years,” said my friend, whose 25-employee firm manufactures corrosion-resistant plumbing parts that handle caustic fluids. “My father was always successful, but he had to be pushing all the time. He was herding cats when it came to his workers. He could never be away from the company for even a short while. To me, it seemed like a miserable way to live.”

For some time now, my friend has been reading, studying, and talking to other open-book managers.  He even attended a specialized conference focused on open-book ideas as preparation for introducing the technique into his business. “It just makes sense,” he says. “It seems like the only logical way to run a company. It creates a system that empowers everyone at the organization, from the bottom up, to be an entrepreneur.”Click here to read more. 

How Total Transparency Saved my Company 

totaltransparencyIncWhen a huge technology crisis triggered chaos in the warehouse, the e-commerce company CPO Commerce found the fix in open-book management. Click here to read more.


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