OWNERSHIP RULE #8 of 14: “You Build an Ownership Culture by Breaking Down Walls.”

Another Insight from 30 Years at Creative Roots Landscaping

2024 marks my 30th year since I started Creative Roots Landscaping. Through trial and plenty of error, I have come to appreciate Jack Stack’s Ownership Rule #8’s crucial role in shaping the sound organizational culture that exists in our small landscaping business. The journey has been a continuous learning experience emphasizing the need to break down walls to foster a healthy ownership culture. It’s taught me that for any company to survive and do well, I mean REALLY well, the people who work within it must feel invested and start acting with a sense of ownership.

Transparent communication is necessary for success. Breaking down walls involves establishing open channels where information freely flows between leadership and the workforce, creating a shared sense of purpose and cultivating ownership among every team member as they understand the company’s goals, challenges, and triumphs.

  • Share the “Why.” If we want people to think like owners, if we want our staff to engage and take action, and if we want people to feel a sense of purpose at even a fraction of the sense of purpose you feel as the owner . . . then Sharing the Why definitely has a  role to play. Why? Because people get far more excited about the How when they understand the Why?
  • Open Financials: One aspect of implementing Open Book Management involves sharing financial information with all employees. Educate them through formal and informal discussions of company financials, Critical Numbers, key Drivers, and goals to ensure everyone is informed about the company’s financial health and objectives.
  • Regular Huddles: Conduct regular huddles around scoreboards to discuss the company’s progress, challenges, and strategies. This will create an educated team and a safe place for employees to ask questions and provide insights, fostering a culture of open communication.

We are all on the same team, so there is no need for silos! In the landscape industry, various departments often operate in isolation, hindering collaboration. Breaking down these barriers encourages the coming together of people’s talents, which helps create an environment of teamwork and freely shared ideas.

  • Cross-Company Training: It doesn’t have to be complicated, but consider implementing cross-functional training programs to help employees understand the roles and responsibilities of co-workers in other divisions. It can break down the barriers between different teams and encourage a more holistic understanding of the business.
  • Collaborative Projects: Encourage collaboration by assigning projects requiring input from multiple departments to enhance teamwork and ensure that diverse perspectives are not practical in your everyday work environment; consider doing a community or charity project that gets everyone working together.

Empowering employees is also key. No, you don’t want to send people who don’t know how to do their work or understand what is expected of them. However, you must encourage the breaking down of walls between the front line, management, and owners to grant autonomy at all levels. In the landscape industry, this empowerment translates to the front line taking ownership of their tasks, the managers being able to manage and not just put out fires, and the owners having the mental space to focus on growth and create opportunity….all of which contribute to a culture where every team member understands their role in the company’s success. That is what we like to call Line-of-Sight.

  • High Involvement Planning: Involve employees in the goal-setting process, allowing them to contribute to defining objectives and outcomes. This fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility to achieve the company’s annual targets that support the longer-term vision. People support what they help create. That is empowerment at its best. 
  • Training and Development: Invest in training programs that empower employees with the skills and knowledge to make informed decisions and build confidence and competence, enabling them to take on more responsibilities. This one is BIG in the landscape world these days. We are all looking for that “Rock Star” employee, and the truth is that there are not many out there. Creating an onboarding process to get your employees started on the right foot, followed by ongoing industry and business-related training, to set your company apart from the competition. 

I could go on and on, but I will leave this article with my opinion that all I have mentioned above is necessary to build an ownership culture/mindset that breaks down the walls that typically exist in businesses. 

So how do you do it?  How do you fit it all in amongst all the day-to-day work that needs to get done? Intentionally and, of course, together. That is, at last, the most important part of this Ownership Rule #8 and everything that is Open Book Management the way The Great Game of Business pioneered it.

About Me

Through my experiences, I have been fascinated by business and all it offers to improve people’s lives. From working on the shovel, business visioning and everything in between, to sharing my experiences through personalized coaching services, my goal is to help other owners work on their businesses, increase profits, and have more time for themselves while finding enjoyment.

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