Open Book Management at Bloomingfoods

Submitted by Ron Helfrich
Bloomingfoods introduced Open Book Management (OBM) a couple of years ago. At the time, the system seemed promising. According to former employee Claire Cumberland, it was “less of a way to manage employees and more of a way to allow employees to understand the financial nuts and bolts of the company and their effect upon them.”  In keeping with the way a democratically run co-op should be managed, she notes: “The main points being that it was supposed to make everyone feel more as part of a team and as individuals who could make a difference for the whole and that those things add up to a worker base that feels empowered as if they were the owners.” Sports metaphors sprinkle the discussion of how OBM works, with teams meeting daily or weekly in “huddles.”  But, according to Cumberland, “As is the case with most of reality, there were/are pros and cons that have left the Co-op seemingly worse off or at least left the employees more disgruntled.”
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