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Social Business Means "Open" Business

Posted by EddiePrentice on June 11, 2014

I came across an article a few days ago on the Harvard Business Review blog entitled “Share Your Financials To Engage Your Employees” written by Bill Fotsch and John Case. On the face of it, not the most enticing title for a blog post but “employee engagement” is definitely our bag so I read on. I’m glad I did.

The basic tenet of the blog post is that, “It’s surprisingly easy to generate this kind of engagement among employees when you make the economics of the business come alive by sharing some key financial numbers. It’s an open-book approach: people begin to watch these indicators. Then they figure out how to move them in the right direction.” They call this approach Open-Book Management.

Messrs Fotsch and Case go on to cite an example of a travel management company which selected three branch offices to pilot open-book methods. The outcome was that staff began thinking like owners. In other words they started thinking about the numbers as well as the tasks at hand and doing their job well. This led to them spotting opportunities an owner might think of. In one office, savings of $189,000 were achieved in a matter of months.

So what’s the relevance for us in the world of Social Business? Successful adoption of social business software is not about mastering the technology. That’s the easy bit. It’s about engineering a new way of working. It’s about sharing knowledge and information rather than jealously guarding it. It’s about becoming an open business, in essence adopting the principles of Open-Book Management. That’s a big ask for many businesses right now. However, there is no doubt that the digital world, and social business tools, has fundamentally changed the way work works. The train has left the station and it’s not going back.

Social business is a fact of life. If it’s not happening with your support and guidance, it’s happening without it. It’s time to bite the bullet.

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