February 9th to 14th
When we started the second chapter of precious in the fall of 2012, we defined a list of principles. Among them were transparency and participation: we wanted everybody in the company to know how much money comes in and how much goes out (and for what). And if we make more than we spend, everybody should benefit from our financial success.
Just allowing everybody in the team to see our bank statements wouldn’t have made much sense. It’s just numbers, hard to interpret correctly for someone without a knack for financials. What looks good to a financial lay person could be disastrous in the eyes of an expert.
Honestly, even Christophe, Michael and I, the three partners, felt insecure to make meaning out of our financial statements. So we hired Sören, our “CFO to go”. Over the last months, he has been working with us to understand our financials better – and to find a format that lets us share them with the whole team.
It took longer than we hoped for, but this week we were able to present the outcome of this long process. Sören gave a great introduction into the financial basics of a company like us and explained the results of 2014. Then he presented the “monthly fact sheet”: a one-page financial summary of the previous month. As plain as possible, as accurate as neccessary. And visual of course. It breaks down our revenue and costs by project and puts it into perspective to the previous months.
From now on we will present and discuss this fact sheet once a month with the whole team (of course everybody can have a closer look into our financial accounts if she is inclined to). Everybody will know in (almost) real time how the company is doing and together as a team we can make better informed decisions. Should we take on this project? Do we want to spend amount x to remodel our office? What can we do to be more profitable? Do we want to be more profitable at all?
In this half day workshop with the team, we also introduced and discussed our idea of a profit sharing plan. I might get into detail on this in another post.
I was glad and even relieved after we presented our ideas to everybody. It was long in the making and I consider it a major step towards our goal of a sustainable, responsible and humanistic company.
Actually, this whole issue was so important to me that all the other events of this week got a little blurred in hindsight.