Open Book Management…Creates a Winning Work Environment

“None of us is as smart as all of us.” – Phil Condit

Do you know what your company’s most important asset is? Your Employees!

Open-book and participative management is one where everyone from the janitor to the CEO is focused on helping his or her business grow and make money. In an open book company, employees are taught to understand why they will be called upon (and want to) to solve problems, cut costs, reduce defects and much more. They get too see the financials (thus “open book”) of the company. They learn about revenue, expenses and profits. Their participation makes their company more successful and profitable thus they share in the rewards.

It’s been said. . “The only person who loves change is a wet baby.”

Communication is the Key

A lesson I learned the hard way as a company owner and manager is that people are afraid of change, no matter how beneficial it will be for them. Most of us seem to have a self-destructive streak that resists any thought of change thus causing our “listening” capabilities to shut down or become difficult to receive any new ideas.

Open Book Management is an opportunity for marketing skills to shine in an internal program.  

It’s not easy communicating to people who resist change the idea that you want a true “partnership” where everyone’s input and effort are not only appreciated, but also encouraged. But the results achieved are well worth the effort. There are many cost effective ways to promote a situation where management wants to transmit a new way of doing business and get people to participate. Since radio, TV, newspaper … traditional media are too costly and ineffective to reach your audience consider a medium that is highly effective on creating one-on-one communication … promotional products (ad specialties). They deliver the message creatively, innovatively with impact and a long-term residual or remembrance factor.

What types of messages need to be communicated under an enlightened management style?

* A new way of doing business is taking place

* Here are the parameters of the new management approach

* Cooperation is a necessity for success

* An open minded attitude is important

* Feedback is necessary

* Your ideas are important

* Teamwork is required

* A strong balance sheet means solid employment

* Profitability ensures the future

…. And the list can go on and on. Therefore it is crucial that management effectively communicate to everyone within the organization, year round, the essence of an open book or participative environment.

“Even if you are on the right track you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”  – Will Rogers

Stages of the Process: When a program of this scope is initiated there are distinctive stages that management will have to go through in order to be successful. Each offers an opportunity to reinforce each other and build a strong foundation, which will strengthen the overall operation of the company. Below is a hypothetical example of how the process would work.

Stage I:  Introduction

The company is ready to announce the new “open-book” management and they need to do two things. Create an umbrella theme under which the effort can be marketed company wide and secondly create enough awareness to get (and keep) everyone’s attention. For example the theme chosen is  “None of us is as smart as all of us.” They have a graphic design created that reinforces those words. Then they have that slogan and graphic reproduced on folders or binders in which the information describing the program is distributed then on T-shirts, caps, bumper stickers, buttons, pens, clipboards, mugs, glasses and anything they feel employees might use on a daily basis at work or home. The idea being that these will be given out at various stages throughout the year, but with an emphasis in phase I & II. Banners are created for hanging in prominent areas within the offices and manufacturing areas. This starts to create awareness and build an “esprit de corps”.

Stage II: Gaining Commitment

Now the program has been introduced and employees who have signed on are given recognition of their commitment to each other, their customers as well as the company, in the form of a pin with the logo, a license plate to put on front of their car and a team membership card.

Stage III: Recognizing Teamwork

Now the program and results are starting to roll-in. Defects are down, suggestions for improvement and cost efficiencies are up. Now various awards are made to individual units for their contributions in the form of team “Unity” jackets & caps, plaques are mounted in a special “hall of fame” section in the company cafeteria highlighting these teams.

Stage IV: Rewarding Efforts

It has been a tremendous year; morale is up as are profits. The company is ready to hand out bonus checks, placed in a nice quality wallet with the logo embossed on it. Personalized sweatshirt with their name embroidered on the front and a back design incorporating the theme logo and the name of every employee’s highlights the unified effort they made for each other and the company.

Then introduced is next year’s theme for the same program with a new logo designed around the idea of the “Three Musketeers” and their theme “One for all and all for one”. And your business from this client keeps rolling on year after year.


If you would like to enhance your you might want to read “Open-Book Management The Coming Business Revolution” by John Case (Harper Business) and “Second To None…. Smartest Companies Put People First” by Charles Garfield (Business One Irwin).

You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” Margaret Thatcher


Leslie R. Wolff’s mission is to reestablish a lost factor in business … commonsense! It is the foundation on which Smart Thinking is built. Les is CEO of The Smart Marketing Group, a proactive marketing Visionary & Strategy Think Tank. He can be reached at 866-334-5004,, Skype: Smart Marketing or The right programs for the right reasons deliver the right results.


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Filed under Free Marketing Tips, Management and Leaders, small business

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