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How Open Book Management Taught me to Stop Fighting Sales & Love the Team

Molly Lee on October 14, 2013

I arrived at Duo at the end of the summer and one adjustment I faced upon my arrival was getting used to the company's practie of open book management. What I didn't expect to learn was how this practice closes the gap between sales, marketing, and design. I sat down with our Marketing Coordinator, Ariel Upton, to talk through open book management and how it creates deeper connections and levels of understanding among team members.

Molly Lee (UX Architect): Tell me about your role at Duo [Ariel].

Ariel Upton (Marketing Coordinator): I am the marketing coordinator which means a lot of different things. I work closely with Michael (Duo's CEO) on our branding and I am respondible for our internal content marketing and strategy. I am a regular contributor to the Duo blog and I am working towards making Duo a consulting firm for inbound marketing strategies. My job doesn't end with marketing, though.

Working in the close-knit setting we have at Duo allows me to do a lot of things and contribute in a way that wouldn't be possible at a larger corporation. This includes helping design our quarterly mini-games, host industry-focused events, clean out the fridge when something goes sour, and sitting in for Shari as receptionist when I'm needed.

ML: It's true. When I arrived here (2 months ago) it seemed like you had been a part of the team for much longer than 8 months. Pitching in to make the company run outside of your designated job title seems more like the norm than the exception here.

AU: It definitely is the norm. Your turn, Molly. How do you define your role at Duo?

ML: So far, I have been digging into the UX process that exists here and ideating on how we update these processes to fit our needs in the best way possible. As a consulting firm we need to be able to get in and dig deeper into our client's heads. But being a smaller firm, this massive undertaking that can be the Discovery process isn't always possible. I'm troubleshooting how we can get the most bang for our buck AND deliver a successful solution for our client.

AU: What has been the biggest change you have seen since arriving at Duo compared to your previous place of employment? 

ML: 100% the sales process. As a UX strategist I am primed to think that sales doesn't understand the value we're communicating and focus only on the bottom line. This cycle of sales team members being out in the field and promising things to clients that aren't possible and then coming back looking for a solution that isn't the best one for their needs can be arduous. Worst of all it prevents us from looking at the entire lifecycle of the project to clarify what the bigger picture is and how we can implement a successful strategy for the entire course of the project.

AU: It seems like working in a vaccuum. One person interacts with the client but doesn't take the suggestions from the remainder of the team executing the project.

ML: Exactly! Sales is typically incentivized to work harder to earn their commission. They are selling our product while an entire team is executing on the delivery. It can be uninspiring to watch all of your hard work benefit the individual instead of the entire team. At Duo, we all have an equal stake in the outcome. It encourages everyone to work harder for the same goal.

AU: Practicing open book management really does illustrate how your individual contributions drives the needle for everyone.

ML: How has open book management allowed you to grow in your role as marketing?

AU: It's given me the opportunity to learn a lot about things I knew very little about quickly. I now understand the power of a good hire, how an indecisive person can effect a project's entire pipeline, and that it's essential to have the right people making the right decisions so your organization functions in a productive and meaningful way. I've been exposed to bigger decisions and challenges, which has taught me think bigger and allowed me to understand the context of my goals.  

ML: I agree with your point about context. Realizing other team members point of reference helps me contribute in a more efficient way.

AU: Can you give me an example?

ML: Sure. Take you and Chris [Paloian]. I had never worked so closely with a sales and marketing team before arriving at Duo. Sitting on a weekly scoreboard meeting and seeing how our pipeline looks had me think, "What can I do to help bring in business?" How can I support Chris and the sales team with user experience that could turn "maybes" into "yesses". 

My goal has moved beyond how can I make the UX team the best it can possibly be to how can I make Duo the best it can possibly be.


Does your company practice open book management? Have you seen a greater interaction between your teams as a result? We want to hear your stories.


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