Empower Your Employees with Open-Book Management

When I came across Atomic Object while looking for jobs, that was the first time I’d heard of open book management. I’d later join the company, and I quickly realized that what I thought might be some fancy marketing and a buzzword was so much more than that. Open-book management is deeply ingrained in the company’s culture. In turn, it contributes to strengthening the culture here through a positive feedback loop of transparency, education, and accountability.

From day one, I was introduced to the transparency and educational aspects of our open-book management practices. These have profoundly impacted my work life, growth, and interests. Here, I’ll share how the ongoing practice of OBM at Atomic has educated me about the business and made me feel more connected and engaged with my work.

Economics of Atomic Workshop

As part of onboarding, everyone participates in a workshop called “Economics of Atomic.” This day-long group workshop dives deep into the company’s financial data. This workshop offers new employees a comprehensive look at various aspects of Atomic’s financial health and how you can conceptualize the financial mechanism of the business. The workshop covers topics like pro forma quarterly examples, historical spending in different categories, and how all these factors contribute to Atomic’s profitability levels.

We also reviewed historical spending to identify patterns and trends. Through this, people can see how past expenses break down across major categories such as salaries, health insurance, equipment, training, facilities, paid time off, and other things new employees may notice we spend money on. We also look at utilization, hourly rate, and effective billable rate affect quarterly outcomes.

By using financial modeling and example spreadsheets, we’re educating new employees about the company and empowering them to ask questions and make more informed decisions when those decisions have a financial impact on the company. This educational step is a key part of bringing people into our practice of open-book management.

Quarterly Results Sharing

Another practice we use that is part of open-book management is our quarterly meeting. After the financial books have been completed, we have a presentation before our quarterly party that goes over the quarter’s financial data. This includes metrics like the quarter’s profitability, the average hourly rate, percentage utilization, and key expenses that deviate from the norm.

Although this can get repetitive, there’s value in having a reoccurring practice and setting time to review these regularly. The managing partners and leadership take the time to contextualize the quarterly results. They’re compared to the company’s historical norms so people can make sense of the results. This step is key to sharing the company’s “books ” transparently with everyone so they can see the results themselves.

Impact on Employees

Recently, I’ve been thinking about companies’ ethical duty to employees. Open-book management is one way I see Atomic Object fulfilling its ethical duty by reporting the company’s financial health and keeping me informed.  Participating in open-book management at Atomic has left me feeling much more empowered to question the status quo and feel like an informed steward of the company.


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