Open Book Management Promotes a Culture of Trust

By Michael McKinney, CTB

“If you ask people to build great companies, and give them the information they need to do it, you’ll get great products and services as a result.  The only way you can actually experience success is when your people understand the big picture, not just the small frames.”

The Great Game of BusinessJack Stack and Bo Burlingham


A few years ago, I had the great opportunity of spending some time with members of the Small Giants Community–a group of likeminded business leaders who “believe that success is about growing a business with purpose.”  In our discussions, I became intrigued by the idea of Open Book Management.


So what is Open Book Management?


Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like–the sharing of financial information with team members, but it’s more than that. According to the folks at The Great Game of Business, Open Book is “about responsibility, ownership, results, and growth.”

Here at AM Transport, we began discussions and education of Open Book Management in May of 2017. Over the next couple of months, we opened our books up to team members, we pored over financial statements, discussed how to read financials, and reviewed expense accounts, revenues, profits, and taxes. It was a lot of work, but by January of 2018, we were ready to go.


Why is Open Book important to us?


If you’re in logistics, you understand that trust is hard to come by. There are so many factors and players in the process of getting a shipment from here to there. It can be taxing and overwhelming to find transportation partners you believe in.


But what if trust begins at home?


All relationships are built on trust. You can’t get around that simple fact. At AMT, we suspect that businesses who hide information can’t possibly cultivate a culture of trust, and trust is important to us. Open Book aligns with our core belief that trust positively (or negatively if there isn’t any) informs all of our relationships with customers and carriers.

Sure, we’ve heard the naysayers who claim their people can’t or won’t understand the books or the profits. In our experience, that simply isn’t the truth. In fact, the opposite is true. Our team members are intelligent, open-minded folks who understand the concepts of business. If they didn’t they wouldn’t be here.


Here’s how it works!


  • We set budgets and goals as a team, and then review consistently.
  • Team members take ownership because they know how things work from the bottom up.
  • 100% transparency enables informed decision making.
  • Work is more enjoyable, challenges more apparent, and results more rewarding when everyone is on the same page.
  • Education is ongoing and creates a culture of learning and growth.


We’re a little past the half-year mark, and while we’re still a bit rough around the edges, we believe that Open Book is revitalizing and energizing. Team members appreciate and enjoy having and being part of the big picture!


Do you want to hit your goals?


Dumb question, huh! Of course, you do! That’s why you should think about Open Book Management. Trust your people with information so they can see the big picture. Ownership and commitment will follow–I guarantee it. When people are empowered they can do great things.

And if you’re not ready to bite the Open Book bullet? Think about doing business with a company whose core value is trust. Give us a call! I’d be happy to chat with you about Open Book management, and I’d love to show you how Open Book makes AMT a great logistics partner!