The Power of Transparency and the Value of Information

On a plane trip back home from Omaha a couple of years ago, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal called “The Summer to Go on a Power Diet” discussing products and techniques for reducing power usage.  In the body of the article, they talk about the impact of  just making cost information available:

A study by the Envirnmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford showed a 5% to 15% reduction in power consumption just by providing energy information to users.

( Article link:

Kevin Cushing, former CEO of AlphaGraphics,  talks about a similar benefit from sharing financial information with employees.
In a recent video testimonial, he explains:

And something I think that’s understated in SurvivalWare, and in sharing financial information as a whole, is how can you keep your employees informed about the financial health of your business?  A lot of small business owners think that their employees don’t know, or don’t care, or it’s way over their head.  Other ones want to hold it all in, because they feel like that’s private information for them and they shouldn’t be sharing that with their franchisees.  My perspective: the more your employees know about the health of your business, the more that they can do to improve the performance of the business.


It reminded me of my early days as an industrial engineering student when I learned about the Hawthorne Effect.  Look it up on Wikipedia if you want the details – but in a nutshell some industrial engineers were trying to improve productivity at this huge GE Plant in the early 1900’s, and kept meticulous production records to help them study the impact of certain things.  They turned up the lights – and sure enough productivity increased.  They turned the lights back down – and guess what – productivity increased again!  They concluded it was the attention from management, knowing what was being watched, that led to the improved performance.
My advice is to shine the spotlight on those metrics and measures that are most important to your business, and share the information with employees so they know how they can best improve the performance of the business.  And I guess now I’ll have to practice what I preach!

SurvivalWare is a tool that can help you do this.   You can check it out by downloading the free trial: