When I was growing up there were few things worse than being called a sissy. Guys who complained about hard track workout were labeled sissies. Buddies who hesitated on the edge of the high dive were prodded over the edge with jeers of “don’t be a sissy.” Today I tell clients to stop being sissies when I can see they are just avoiding the hard work.
ROWE (results only work environment) is a management philosophy that says it doesn’t matter how the work gets done, only that it gets done. Let me be clear. I’m a big fan of ROWE. A few years ago I was able to spend a day in a room with Jody Thompson. I learned a ton. As a part of that experience I turned my own small business into a ROWE, and it was very good for us.
But sissies like ROWE too, and you know I have an issue with sissies. Here’s the problem. A lot of business owners jump on the ROWE bandwagon and then spend all kinds of energy trying to decide what "RESULTS" matter.
If Andy Rooney were commenting on ROWE he might say “Real men do OBM.”
What’s OBM? It’s open book management, a management philosophy championed by Jack Stack in his book The Great Game of Business. OBM is great because it cuts through all the shenanigans and hoops that sissie ROWE adopters talk about and gets right to the heart of the matter.
OBM says this: * Results matter * Everybody gets to see the results * Everybody gets to be held accountable for the results
Oh, and there’s one more part: * Results are measured by what happens in the books
Wait! What?! Are you starting to understand the sissie’s problem? I’m going to tell you exactly why I think most ROWE adopters who stop short of OBM are sissies.
First, results are actual things, not decisions. Too many times the sissies want to subjectively tell people what the results are. You hear things like “profits were up but not enough given what’s around the corner so we can’t pay bonuses.” In OBM nobody gets to make a decision about what the results were. They happened or they didn’t.
Second, there are no secrets in OBM. Communication takes on a whole new level of transparency. Sissies can’t pretend they don't have the time or the luxury to explain all the facts. Employees don’t need ALL the facts. They just need the ones that matter. OBM shows the facts that matter in all their gory detail. That’s scary territory for sissies who hide poor performance with half truths and subjective evaluations about "what really happened."
Third, sissies don’t like to be held accountable to a standard that allows no wiggle room, no re-definition, and no excuses. This is the biggest reason I call them sissies. In every organization, ROWE or not, OBM or not, it is the person at the top who is ultimately responsible for the performance of the business. OBM allows everyone in the company to share in holding the person at the top responsible, and that is terrifying for insecure sissies. OBM is ROWE on a two way street.
Don’t be a sissy. If you do ROWE, go all the way. Make OBM your ROWE gold standard. Everyone will thank you for not wasting months or years of their time squabbling over the meaning of “Results” in a Results Only Work Environment.