Full Disclosure

May 23rd, 2012

Guest Blog by Kelly Hocutt, a CBI Group team member

At CBI, we have added four new people to our team in the past few weeks. One of the first things we share with new team members is our Outside-In® culture and we have done so by sharing stories about one tenet each week. This week is Open Book. I first learned about what it meant to be Open Book from Chris’ father, Alan Burkhard.

When I met with Alan to learn about his life as an entrepreneur, I wondered, “What is it that Alan understands about this world that the rest of us are too blind to see? What makes him so successful, so content and so relaxed?” It’s that he has nothing to hide.

“I am fully open and honest with everyone,” he told me. He teams up with people that have the same values as him and commits to full disclosure. He will discuss anything his partners, coworkers or employees want to know. He shares his philosophy with anyone who is interested. It’s simple, common sense but the difference lies in making what you believe, what you actually do. To live and be what you believe. He teaches his philosophy to his employees and the Outside-In® philosophy has been successful in every business he has established or turned around, in seven different industries; Payroll, transfer stations, real estate, trash, horse racing, food service and staffing services… Just like it has worked for his son.

“I don’t care what the product is in my business. Great service is unbeatable because it’s free,” he says with a smile. Letting his customers call all the shots has made Alan Burkhard the successful entrepreneur he is today. “What’s the value to you? That’s the value to me.” The beauty of the Outside-In® philosophy is its minimalism. He teaches it in the classroom, he can diagram it or explain it through one of his many analogies. He could shout it from the mountaintops. But that doesn’t mean people grasp it enough to fully embrace and live it.

Thus, to put his philosophy to work in his companies, Alan leads by example. “My business philosophy is the same as my personal philosophy,” he explained. He teaches people to have their own cultures, to learn and understand themselves. He then encourages them to be who they say they are. Culture is defined by “what we do and how we act. You must live it. Be it.” Everyone has cultural traits that they rank higher than others, whether they know it or not. The big one for Alan are being direct, sharing, and leadership. With a defined culture, Alan empowers people to make decisions.

Alan believes that he and his employees are equally important and he makes sure they know that. “I give full trust in employees. There is no need not to tell them anything.” And that is exactly what those of us at CBI Group have been talking about this week. Our new team members are learning from the veterans what full disclosure, sharing and collaboration are all about. This Outside-In® approach is so simple and so human that it can be confusing. But it’s up to each and every employee to put being Open Book in to action. When one of us passes it along, it’s a beautiful thing to watch the power of full disclosure.

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