When Open-Book Management was first in 1995, its subtitle suggested "The Coming Business Revolution." Well, that "revolution" has arrived and author John Case deserves much of the credit. In the Introduction, however, he makes it crystal clear that open-book management is NOT a panacea, is NOT a substitute for TQM or reengineering or any other operational overhaul, and is NOT a single system. In essence, open-book management helps companies to create a shared environment in which everyone understands that they are competing in a marketplace, trying to make money. But for whom? Frequently, effective ownership has been limited to relatively few people. In privately-held companies, usually to a single person and/or to a family. Presumably Case agrees with Al Ehrbar (author of EVA) that the traditional concept of "ownership" must be re-defined so that everyone involved in a given enterprise assumes personal responsibility for adding value. Hence the importance of recognition of peak performance but also the importance of financial incentives. "What's in it for me?" is a quite legitimate question. Given the increasingly greater impact of globalization, the information revolution, and what Case calls "entrepreneuralization", companies must find new and better ways to answer that question. For Case, each company needs a mission, a strategy. "But more than anything else it needs eager, willing employees, people who have a reason to care about their employer's prosperity and who know how to help it succeed."
Ultimately, the measurable value of open-book principles will be determined by several factors: The extent to which a company modifies them to accommodate its own circumstances; the extent to which employees in that company (top to bottom) commit to the program, once devised; and the extent to which everyone involved shares equitably (NOT equally) in the rewards.
Those who admire this book as much as I do will presumably want to read (if they have not already read) The Open-Book Field Book and The Open-Book Experience. These two books develop in much greater detail the material first introduced in Open-Book Management. Also, they provide an absolutely essential guide to deriving maximum benefit from John Case's wisdom and experience.
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About the reviewer
Robert Morris (Robert1936)
Professionally, I am an independent management consultant who specializes in accelerated executive development and breakthrough high-impact organizational performance. I also review mostly business books … more
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