Sri Lanka’s English Tea Shop, which markets premium organic tea to 50 countries, won the prestigious Great Game of Business All Star Award 2020 – International Champion having demonstrated a sustainable continuity in its business model showcasing profitability even through COVID-19. The Company inculcates the best practices of open-book management (OBM) which encourages a shared value culture of employees thinking and acting like owners.
Playing the ‘Big Game’, ETS created a foundation of shared value by purchasing tea directly from tea growers to promote and sustain agricultural practices, allowing its team, farmers and shareholders to grow together. The Company posted a 31% increase in productivity in the first year of playing GGOB has in the five years since, seen 15% of the company being employee owned.
Commending ETS on this All Star win, President and CEO of SRC Holdings Corp, Jack Stack who is known as the Godfather of GGOB said, “You have taught us that we are on the right path and right direction. What distinguishes ETS from others is the consistency, which is something they have really understood. Not only are they growing with their senior employees but they also have the mechanism to engage the younger team into the business”.
A firm proponent of open-book management, which inspired him to infuse these practices into ETS, CEO of English Tea Company Suranga Herath said, “In our part of the world, opening the books to your company is not incentivized nor encouraged, which is an inherent challenge. But by playing the Big Game, I’m proud of achieving 20% compound annual growth in value-added per employee in the last five years”. He adds that OBM breaks down the ‘we-they’ culture by increasing the degree of transparency and trust everyone has about the business and its processes. “As the line-of-sight of work to key business outcomes improve, so does the wealth creation and sharing.”
For a Company that has navigated the challenges of both COVID-19 and Brexit successfully, Mr. Herath believes the award reinforces the tangibility of the ETS shared value concept.
“The team directly influences the direction of the business. We continued our weekly huddle rhythm even during COVID-19 online, brainstorming and updating our planning scenario to prepare us for diverse outcomes. Because of this culture of shared ownership, our team was thinking like owners of the Company which is what made the difference,” he also said.