Time for ‘Open-Book Government’

‘If you want to create a culture of citizenship, people have to understand that they have a direct role in creating the kind of society they want, and that creating such a country is their responsibility and the ultimate goal of the country, the end results of all their efforts’

Pretty good stuff, eh? Not a quote from Fintan O’Toole, a French philosopher or the President of Ireland but from a business book. I just replaced ‘ownership’ with ‘citizenship’, ‘company’ with ‘society’ and ‘enterprise’ with ‘country’.

I just finished reading this book, ‘A Stake in the Outcome‘ by Jack Stack. It documents the amazing journey of Jack and his colleagues in SRC, their engine re-manufacturing business in Missouri. SRC is not a global brand or household name but it is famous in certain circles for their practice of a style of management called ‘open book management’.

SRC is an employee-owned business where all employees have the opportunity to become owners and are provided with the education and career development opportunities to help them think like owners and not employees. I would recommend ‘A Stake in the Outcome’ as a fascinating read on the journey of SRC. Jack’s earlier book ‘The Great Game of Business‘ describes the management system in more detail and I have that on order.

Open-book Management companies encourage ‘ownership thinking’ so that the people who work there consider the big picture and don’t focus on their own narrow sectional interests. Maybe if we had had more ‘citizenship thinking’ during the bubble years we could have avoided the worst effects of the recession?

I found numerous nuggets of wisdom in this book – some quite general and some very specific advice regarding situations I’m facing in my business life at the moment. But what really struck me was the extent to which the thinking in this book could be applied to politics or society at large.

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