Stack, Jack with Bo Burlingham. The Great Game of Business. New York: Doubleday, [1992] 1994. ISBN 0-385-47525-X.
When you take a company public in the United States, there's inevitably a session where senior management sits down with the lawyers for the lecture on how, notwithstanding much vaunted constitutional guarantees of free speech, loose lips may land them in Club Fed for “insider trading”. This is where you learn of such things as the “quiet period”, and realise that by trying to cash out investors who risked their life savings on you before any sane person would, you're holding your arms out to be cuffed and do the perp walk should things end badly. When I first encountered this absurd mind-set, my immediate reaction was, “Well, if ‘insider trading’ is forbidden disclosure of secrets, then why not eliminate all secrets entirely? When you're a public company, you essentially publish your general ledger every quarter anyway—why not make it open to everybody in the company and outside on a daily (or whatever your reporting cycle is) basis?” As with most of my ideas, this was greeted with gales of laughter and dismissed as ridiculous. N'importe…right around when I and the other perpetrators were launching Autodesk, Jack Stack and his management team bought out a refurbishment business shed by International Harvester in its death agonies and turned it around into a people-oriented money machine, Springfield Remanufacturing Corporation. My Three Laws of business have always been: “1) Build the best product. 2) No bullshit. 3) Reward the people who do the work.” Reading this book opened my eyes to how I had fallen short in the third item. Stack's “Open Book” management begins by inserting what I'd call item “2a) Inform the people who do the work”. By opening the general ledger to all employees (and the analysts, and your competitors: get used to it—they know almost every number to within epsilon anyway if you're a serious player in the market), you give your team—hourly and salaried—labour and management—union and professional—the tools they need to know how they're doing, and where the company stands and how secure their jobs are. This is always what I wanted to do, but I was insufficiently bull-headed to override the advice of “experts” that it would lead to disaster or land me in the slammer. Jack Stack went ahead and did it, and the results his company has achieved stand as an existence proof that opening the books is the key to empowering and rewarding the people who do the work. This guy is a hero of free enterprise: go and do likewise; emulate and grow rich.

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