Open communication is a concept that most companies claim to have, but few truly practice or achieve. I have seen first hand, the pitfalls of poor communication and the disarray it can cause within an organization. Some of the greatest examples that illustrate the benefits of open communication can be seen with some of the products and services we use every day.
One of the best examples of this is the Starbucks Frappuccino, which was developed by an employee of Starbucks at a Santa Monica branch. In 1994 Howard Behar, the VP of sales and operations at Starbucks, at the time, was touring stores in Santa Monica and was curious as to why that particular store had a blender. They decided to make the experimental frozen drink, later to be know as the Frappuccino, for Mr Behar. He loved it and he immediately contacted Startbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, telling him about it. Despite Schultz’s initial disfavor of the idea, Behar decided to take a risk on that one store and its new frozen drink. It quickly caught on and the rest is history. The Frappuccino accounts for more than 20% of all coffee sales for Starbucks and $2 Billion in revenue. This success is due in large part to open communication and the bottom-up adoption of an idea.
While working at 5AM I have quickly seen many examples of open communication between all employees. Open communication is embedded in 5AM's culture and what follows are three examples that support this concept.
Frequent Opportunities to Engage
Everyone at 5AM works at an efficient and high speed pace to ensure all commitments and deliverables are met on time and within budget. Consistent with every project at 5AM is the concept of daily Stand-Ups where all project members meet for a short period time to review what they are working on and what issues they are facing. These daily meetings further aim to mitigate risks and to resolve issues within a group setting. In this fluid team environment, everyone pitches in when needed to help advance the company as a whole.
Encouraging Open Communication
Everyone is encouraged to speak up and share their suggestions, opinions and concerns. The culture here at 5AM ensures that all messages are welcomed, considered and addressed. Engagement is a value at 5AM that ensures that all will be heard. This largely contributes to building a consensus within the company.
Openness and Transparency
A very important communication fact on 5AM is that it has a open-book policy as relates to its financial information. It has been reported that 76% of U.S. private-company CFOs say their companies do not give quarterly or annual financial updates to all staff members. 2 The fact that 5AM discloses its financial information to any employee, upon request, speaks volumes as relates to its desire to be openly communicate and be transparent with regards to the company's financial health.