Jack Stack has done it again. He’s produced another superior book about the huge successes that open book management is having on organizations of all sizes and industries. The book is “Change the Game: Saving the American Dream by Closing the Gap Between the Haves and the Have-nots.”
Jack is CEO of SRC Corporation in Springfield, Missouri. I’ve known Jack for more than 30 years. Through these years, I’ve escorted many young communication professionals and clients on tours of Jack’s company. They’ve seen the entire operation, met with employees and walked away with a similar comment: “I’m blown away.”
Jack is an excellent story teller. His new book draws on the great game to tell real stories about Little League baseball players, a young couple starting a business, a CEO and his board during a transition, a two-person team rebooting their company, entrepreneurs, factory managers and employees who have and don’t have the information they need, how open book can affect creative people, health care and government.
For those not acquainted with the open book approach to running a business, open book management is a leadership philosophy that’s grounded in the notion of creating businesses of business people where everyone in the organization thinks and acts like business owners. People in open book companies are steeped in business literacy, have huge amounts of financial information available to them (hence, the term open book) and their rewards and recognition are tied to financial performance.
Certainly more business leaders and communication professionals should be driving the open book concept in their organizations.
Heather Sandoe, communications leader at ITT Corporation’s Lancaster, Maryland operation, did just that. She and I worked together to help all of their employees understand operating income, the financial measure that the facility was being held accountable for improving.
We made sure each employee understood what operating income is and how every employee’s job affects operating income. We established daily huddles that focused on operating income, reviewing the previous day’s numbers and discussing what needed to be done that day and the next.
Employees were excited about the process. They had a complete understanding of operating income and how they could improve it. Every employee was a part of the “game.”
Operating income accelerated dramatically. On-time delivery improved 38 percent. Total cycle time went up 25 percent. Gross inventory turns improved nearly 20 percent. Productivity went up more than seven percent while safety went from 13 recordable incidents to zero.
Every organization and every communication professional can have the kind of dramatic impact as Heather Sandoe.
Jack concludes his book with “So why isn’t every company run this way?” And isn’t that the biggest question of all? There is hope for the American Dream.
Here are a few quotes from “Change the Game” that will give you a sense of what the movement is all about.
“People think the (Great Game of Business) is just about money when it’s really about building quality of life.”
“It’s not about watching and heckling from the sidelines. It’s about everyone being engaged in the action and helping the team win.”
“Though our system, (employees) learned strategy, relationship building, talent development and above all adapting to change.”
“The linchpin of the great game system is having the eyes and brains of our associates involved with every aspect of running the business.”
“When managers don’t share the financials or teach their people how the financials can affect them, people make up their own answers.”
“People often know something is wrong even when they’re not told. As we say at SRC, you can fool the fans but you can’t fool the players.”