Most people have their own idea about what going Open Book means and what it takes to be an Open Book business. Willingness to share financial information. The distribution of decision making power. Better financial results. A lot of teaching. A lot of talking. Radically different notions of what it means to be a business owner/leader. A deep cultural shift.
We think they’re all right.
But we also know this. From being Open Book for over a decade, from teaching Open Book to hundreds of seminar attendees, from helping businesses and organizations all over the country to implement Open Book Management, we know this : Open book is all of those things but most of all Open Book is a way of BEING.
The Zingerman’s community of businesses as discussed in Deep Dive 15 are led by Managing Partners (Owners) as discussed in Deep Dive 16. These Managing Partners come together at various times and will make decisions that affect the entire community of businesses. When a decision is to be made they make these by unanimous consensus. All employees are allowed to attend these meetings.
Back in September of 2014 they introduced the program to included 3 staff members in the Zingerman’s Partner Group Consensus. This is a big deal to give the employees more of a voice and to offer a different perspective to the group.
In the previous Deep Dive, we discussed the concept of creating a process for your employees to create businesses within your ecosystem of businesses. In order to do that at Zingerman’s, they wanted those employees to become business partners.
A struggle for many small to medium-sized businesses is that the opportunities within the company are limited. Often the owner and top management may be family. Or, simply because of the size, there’s no room at the top for more people.
One thing that Zingerman’s realized is that if they wanted to keep their top people and also give people more opportunities to expand themselves, they needed more business. The deli was only going to support so many people, realistically. They started to see that their people had passions for other areas in their industry of food service. They also were seeing some limitations in the products they were able to find that met their high standard.
To solve both problems, they started a process to allow internal team members to propose ideas for businesses they were passionate about and that could be financially successful.
The cool thing is that they were able to continue the Zingerman’s way of treating employees and customers into all the businesses that have grown from this process.
Check out this webinar replay of the ZingTrain training called, “Creating a Community of Businesses” to learn the basics. This should get you to thinking how you may adapt for your organization.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Steve O’Rourke VP Business Development, and Chad Schubert Director of Internal Operations, both of Microgrid Energy. In the 3 episodes with them, we discuss Triple Bottom Line, B Corporations, and how both these affect the day-to-day at this solar and energy management company.
Here are a few of the notes I took while editing the episode.
How does all this Triple Bottom Line helped during the hard times? First of all, this was a transition job for him from the corporate world to a small business. However, he’s passionate and cares about his work. “I believe my company cares about me.”
The vision of the company and the fact that they walked their talk, is what captured him and inspired him to work for the company. Having an intentional vision that you clearly communicate and walk everyday will attract the kind of people you want and need to get your work done.
Also, your community will be better off if the employees of your company don’t go home as stressed and worried about their work.
When profits for shareholders is the main focus, choices will be made that can ultimately show employees what’s truly most important and thus they disengage to point to survive. Creating a long term view on the part of management can help create policies that put the employee in a position of importance, as well as profits.
Managers will gravitate to those decisions where there’s incentives. If short-term is where you get your reward, then you’ll decisions will focus on that.
What should a company do that wants to start becoming more triple bottom line. Take the B Impact Assessment, see link below.
If I feel my company is truly trying to be a force for good, then I may be more engaged in how decisions are made and how I can be a part of that. However, if I believe that business is a zero-sum game and I must take away from someone else in order to succeed, then I may be a bit more cynical about the work I’m doing. (Follow-up question: what is a healthy view of competition.
Not all business may not necessarily be there for the social good, like a solar company. You could be making boxes. But ultimately, how you make those boxes, the impact your having on the environment, the impact you’re having on your employees, suppliers, and overall community are making an impact. How can you be the most uplifting company?
What is Microgrid Energy excited about? Community solar vs individual seems like t could be increasing in popularity. They’re starting a financial arm of the business to take advantage of the PACE. This new company will be in Delaware and will be formed as a B Corporation.
What inspires Steve and Chad. Wayne Dyer and Stephen Covey. Bill Ritter,Powering Forward about creating a new clean energy economy. Colorado seems to be leading the way in this area. Mixing the new with the old, in terms of energy. Chad is liking, Just Mercy, Brian Stephenson. It is inspiring to find an area where you can make a difference where you are passionate.
Steve O’Rourke has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Missouri State University, and is a NABCEP-Certified PV Technical Sales Professional who has taught about the business case for solar at St. Louis Community College’s Center for Workforce Innovation. He brings thirty plus years of experience in consulting, sales, marketing and information technologies, including ten years in the renewable energy industry. Steve has been able to leverage these skills to promote energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy as key parts of a sustainable energy management strategy to a variety of commercial and nonprofit organizations with Microgrid Energy since 2010. He currently serves on the board of the Missouri Gateway chapter of US Green Building Council, and is a board member and treasurer of the Missouri Solar Energy Industries Association. His published articles can be found atIntelEfficient.com
Chad Schubert is currently pursuing an MBA at St. Louis University while working full time at Microgrid Energy as their Director of Internal Operations. Chad is a NABCEP Certified PV Technical Sales Professional and spent a year and a half living off the grid in Zambia before joining Microgrid Energy in 2013. Chad leads Microgrid’s Triple Bottom Line efforts and oversees their B Corp Certification. He has a passion for social entrepreneurship and using business to make the world a better place. More information can be found at www.chadschubert.com.