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  January 29, 2016
Living in a Glass Houses...


If you never lie, you’ll never need to remember what you said.
                                     ~Mark Twain

At the beginning of each hand of Texas Holdem poker, each player is dealt two down cards that only they alone pokercan see and which can only be used by that player. 

Later in the game, five additional cards are dealt face up that are displayed for everyone to see and are considered "community" cards that all players can collectively use to improve their own hands.

The key to winning in Texas Holdem, is to try to gather as much information about the other players’ hand without divulging anything about your own hand. 

Ascertaining information about an opponent’s hand can come from employing certain betting strategies, observing what actions a player makes with their own betting, and/or looking for subtle clues in your opponents mannerisms that might give an indication as to whether they are playing a strong hand or bluffing to steal a pot.

In poker, quality information regarding your opponents’ hands is the single-most important factor in winning and losing over the long haul (short-term it’s still the luck of the draw).

The well-known adage "keep your cards close to your vest" stems from the idea of collecting information while divulging none.

This same mind-set was the prevailing sentiment for most business transactions prior to the advent of the Internet. 

Those who had better information, in terms of quantity and quality, were often in a superior position when any negotiation was taking place. 

Information 20 years ago was expensive and time consuming to acquire, but worth every penny when it came time to close the deal.

That was then and this is now...

Today, information is cheap and plentiful. It is aggregated, cataloged, and freely dispersed through places like Google, Wikipedia, and Yahoo. 

No longer does the entity with strictly the best information automatically get the best deal.

In today’s environment, deals are completed not because one party has more information than the other, but rather by determining the actual needs of each entity involved through a collaborative effort.

The business world is no longer driven by information, but by the value delivered to the buyers and sellers.

The buyer doesn’t help themselves by creating a situation where the product and/or service provider has to guess what their needs actually are. It is far better for the buyer to provide sellers a window into their businesses allowing the providers the opportunity to craft better solutions than originally thought possible by the buyer.

Allow me to give you an example of how sharing information, instead of limiting it, allowed one of our customers to create a much better solution to a problem that they didn’t even know that they had.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit a contract manufacturer (CM) in Texas who was building a wire harness assembly for a large telecommunications company in California.

This CM was currently buying fuse holders from OptiFuse through a local distributor but was not buying the fuses to go into the fuse holders, so I wanted to see if I could convince them to buy the fuses and the fuse holders as a package.

Within the first few minutes with the buyer, I was told that the only factor that could cause them to switch fuse vendors was a significant reduction in price from their current source, which would be hard to do since the fuses only had a cost of a few pennies to begin with.

I explained to the buyer that we would do our best to lower their price, but that they were already paying a low cost with their current supplier so the likelihood of a "significant reduction" was improbable but that perhaps we could save them some money in other areas.

I suggested to her, that if I could perhaps see how the product was installed, I might be able to find some additional ways to help lower their costs.

Twenty years ago, the willingness of a buyer to allow a sales person direct access to the company’s manufacturing process was highly controlled and regulated... but in today’s world, not only is access provided, but it is encouraged.

After seeing the cable assembly, it only took a matter of seconds to see that the CM was splicing a long wire, measuring almost 1 meter, onto the end of the fuse holder wire. I asked the buyer if she might consider purchasing a customized fuse holder with the one meter of wire already installed, saving them the cost of the additional wire, the splice connector, and the labor to install it. 

Additionally, I suggested that the fuse be pre-installed into the fuse holder also saving them time and labor (costing more than the fuse itself).

Lastly, I noticed that a special connector was being added to both ends of the wire where I suggested that the connectors could also be added at the time of manufacture.

Whereas, the buyer was looking to grind off a few pennies off of the cost of the fuse, I was able to save them several dollars (about 40% of their current cost) per assembly.

This saving only occurred by the customer’s willingness to provide transparency into their manufacturing process and cost structure.

Transparency is not only effective in an external buyer / seller environment but it also can be a useful method to increase productivity among the company’s workforce.

By sharing financial data with employees, along with providing financial literacy and training, employees can now see where their individual efforts contribute to the growth and the company’s bottom line.

This can be highly motivating to the company’s workforce, especially if a portion of those bottom line dollars is shared with the employees. 

By sharing profit and loss, balance sheet and cash-flow information meetingwith employees, the company has implicitly created a partnership between their management and their employees.

Transparency in any organization builds trust and awareness between the constituents. Trust, in turn, gives people opportunity to freely contribute without fear of retribution.

It helps to build a collaborative effort where people readily share information and ideas rather than horde it.

Transparency can also provide a vehicle for feedback, helping to demonstrate a cause and effect. It helps to motivate people at the company by giving them a common goal or common enemy.

An organization employing open book management will ultimately find that their employees will work harder, smarter, and help to develop solutions that will propel the organization forward amid increasing competition.

Thank you for your support of OptiFuse where we believe in benefits of cooperation and collaboration as a way to better serve those who support us. 

Jim Kalb
Jim Kalb President

Email -  jimk@optifuse.com
Website - www.optifuse.com
Blog - www.optifuse.blogspot.com 
Twitter - @OptiFuse

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