When most people hear the term Open-Book Management – they take it to mean simply sharing financial information with their team, and while many understand the concept when it comes to opening the kimono, people are hesitant. If you open the books in a lean year – will employees run for the hills? If you open the books in a good year – will they want a raise? Guess what – they already want one!

One of the approaches to Open-Book Management that we advocate is called the Great Game of Business. At its core, the management style is about having a positive impact of the lives of your team by engaging, educating, and empowering them.

What sets the Great Game of Business apart from other OBM operating systems, is that it’s about much more than looking at a P & L each month – it’s about educating employees to think, act, and feel like business owners.

Why would you want to do that? Employee engagement scores hover at around on 13% globally, and only around 24% in Australia – and that’s scary when we think about the link between our work environments and our quality of life generally. It’s safe to say that creating a sustainable business is now as much about creating an engaging, fun, and safe environment for the team as it is to deliver quality products and services.

Engaging employees in the business doesn’t just mean having fun, but simply going to work and doing a set of tasks is no longer enough. Using the Great Game of Business has provided everyone in our office with a story and purpose behind why we’re here.

Providing a sense of purpose is particularly important for Millennials – who are increasingly looking for larger meaning at work to drive purpose in their own lives, even more so as the distinction between work and life becomes blurred for this demographic. Open Book businesses help employees create and build a sense of purpose by including them in developing and owning the businesses vision and values, and while that’s directly beneficial in terms of improving engagement at work – team members take that sense of fulfillment home with them every night.

Success in business is about much more than numbers, it always has been – it’s about improving and having a positive impact on the lives of those who are connected to the numbers.

The Game Plan: How can you make Open Book Management work for your business?

In its simplest form – a successful game plan has three elements:

Know and teach the rules

All team members are taught to understand what success looks like for the business – whether that’s education on how to read the financial statements, what targets are critical to the business and how they are influenced, or how different team members contribute to the company’s success.

Follow the action and keep score

The reason computer games such as world of Warcraft are so addictive is that they allow us to easily see our progress towards different goals. The same logic applies to business. Once team members know and understand the different elements of the business, scoreboards and continual team meetings/communications keep track of progress, provide motivation, and increase accountability.

Provide a stake in the outcome

It’s in our very nature to ask – what’s in it for me; so there has to be some type of intrinsic motivation to engage people in the success of the business. This could be in the form of an Employee Share Ownership Plan, a team-based bonus or reward system tied to your targets, or smaller rewards and celebrations for reaching milestone or focus goals.

We help organisations implement elements of The Game in their won organisations to create lasting cultural change and rapid financial results. If you’d like to learn more about how Open Book Management and the Great Game of Business could help drive engagement in your organisation, feel free to give myself or Adam a call.