Inc. magazine has been writing about open-book management since one of its contributing writers, John Case, coined the term over a decade ago. Today, however, as a New York Times article (TimesSelect subscription required) noted this past weekend, we've begun practicing what we've preached for years. That is, Mansueto Ventures LLC, as the parent company of Inc., Fast Company and their related websites, is opening its books, informing employees about how they affect the bottom line, and inspiring them to think about ways to improve it.
Open-book management is certainly nothing new, but as more companies have shared their stories with Inc., it's become clear that is a powerful tool by which employers can empower employees to own their work and the success of a company. Jack Stack, a former Inc. columnist and practitioner of open-book management, has leveraged the management strategy so successfully at his company, SRC Holdings, that he's become a poster boy for open-book management. Inc. Editor-at-Large Bo Burlingham shares successful business practices from many small private companies in his new book Small Giants: Companies that Choose to Be Great Instead of Big, and within its pages, open-book management figures prominently.
Granted, you cannot be guaranteed that sharing your company's financials with your employees will produce extraordinary results, nor is it easy, as Case notes in the New York Times article. However, armed with more information, employees can become a reliable resource for solutions to business challenges and a well of ideas on how to push a business forward.