Monday, 2 January 2012

Open Book Management – Transparency or Folly?

Does your firm operate Open Book Management?  How transparent are management about the key drivers for the firm?  Are the strategic goals hiding in plain sight or kept behind the closed door of management, the inner circle or those “in the know”.

Many firms lay out their ambition in the public domain, eg “To be the premier service provider of xxxx for yyyy types of people/in the XXX Country”.  Cool, we get you, but that doesn’t tell us how you plan to get there, how you operate, what your values are, in whom do you invest, what is the culture of the organisation?

How does an organisation keep staff openly informed when part of it needs to move in secret – eg research & development initiatives, mergers, down-sizing, combining shared services, etc?
The tenet behind Open Book Management is that with intimate knowledge, staff will understand how daily choices affect the company.  And as you would expect, the initial focus is that the financials do not provide sufficient information to engage staff and build commitment.

Open Book Management takes this a stage further, by including key partners as part of the “in the know” inner circle about the portfolio and choices the firm will be making.  In part, this sounds intuitive – organisations will want their suppliers to deliver to their new model, they will want to eliminate wastage and maximise the return on investment.

Twenty years ago, this type of information was usually only available via spreadsheet printouts or gloss marketing materials which took weeks to produce, approve, finalise, publish.  Today, intranets, web-sites and secure “extranets” provide mechanisms to publish quasi-confidential knowledge instantaneously.

The implications are two-fold:
  • Management of the enterprise portfolio needs to provide the links to an organisation’s values, commitments and objectives in order to sow and reap the business benefits.
  • Communication is the vital role – upwards, downwards, sideways, all ways – consistent messages and behaviour reinforcement and recognition.

More on Open Book Management

No comments:

Post a Comment