The Viroqua Food Co+op is a leader in environmental sustainability for our city and county, and with our newly expanded facility we incorporated three new sustainable technologies to contribute to the environmental sustainability of our greater community.Read More
Viroqua Food Co+op Blog
After a tremendous amount of dialogue, organization and planning, we finally broke ground on the Viroqua Food Co+op addition to serve the ever-expanding needs of our community, owners and staff. The plans for a phased project mean that we continue serving our community while simultaneously and literally building a new store around us. On paper, this process looks manageable – but planning and implementation are two very different things. As our staff will attest, it isn’t easy to work in a construction zone.Read More
The Viroqua Food Cooperative is undergoing a fundamental shift in the way we run our business and it relies on all the heads in the room.
A year ago I traveled with two other members of the VFC Management team, Jan Rasikas and Eric Speck, to Zingerman’s Zing Train in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We participated in a three day training based on the principles of Open Book Management. This concept was developed and implemented by Jack Stack at SRC Holdings and expressed in his book The Great Game of Finance. Zingerman’s Delicatessen implemented these same practices in the 1990’s and by 2003 was a completely Open Book Business.
My assumption walking into the training was that we were going to learn about creative ways to understand balance sheets, read profit-loss statements, and interpret financial statements. I was pleasantly surprised to discover I was completely wrong.
Open Book Management is a system in which everyone in the organization takes responsibility for the effective operation of the business, financial and otherwise.
This means the business is not being run by a solitary lone figure sitting in an office pulling strings like a puppet master and issuing commands. It also means that our financial information isn’t kept under lock and key and analyzed only by the select few in the inner circle. Instead, the creative forces of all the individuals performing the work are empowered to understand how the business works, why it works and most importantly, what we can do to make things better.
Sounds good, even revolutionary, but is it really possible? If Zingerman’s is any indication of the kind of success that is possible then the answer is a resounding YES! Currently the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses is a 45 million dollar industry with the same small origins as our own dear Co-op.
How does Open Book Management work? It starts with principles we call The Three Steps to Great Finance: Know and Teach the Rules, Keep Score and Share the Success.