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Title: Freedom, Inc.: Free Your Employees and Let Them Lead Your Business
Author(s): Brian M. Carney and Isaac Getz
Number of Referenced Stories: 4

Publication Year: 2009
ISBN: 9780307409386
Dewey Decimal Class: 600
Dewey Decimal Division: 658
Author Website:

    Jean-François Zobrist
    Liisa Joronen
    David Kelley and Tom Kelley

Just in Time Stories:
    #213 - French FAVI Management Definitions Cue Behaviors
    #906 - Finnish SOL Cleaners as Service Agents
    #907 - IDEO Culture Curator

B's Buzz

Isaac Getz provides two blubs which our referenced thumbnail story helps bring to life.  

"Carney and Getz book's central point: If you give your workers maximum freedom, they will lead your business to higher productivity, profits, and growth." —New York Times

"Messrs. Carney and Getz offer portraits of chief executives who guided their businesses to prosperity by freeing up talent." —Wall Street Journal

A Thumbnail Story: President Liisa Joronen elevated menial work in a thought-provoking, integrated way.  She redefined her workforce from cleaners to Service Agents so her contracted cleaning staff would be treated more as equals by their on-site customers.  To make this possible Joronen negotiated contracts for SOL (SOL Siivouspalvelu Oy)to do their work in the daytime when their customers were around, not in the evenings and after hours. 

To make sure SOL's Service Agents don't blend into the woodwork they wear bright yellow and red uniforms.  Joronen wants her workforce of 8,000 employees to be valued, visible and to cross sell additional services to their customer base. 

SOL is the second leading cleaning-services company in Finland with annual revenues equivalent to $212 million.  By being around during the day their agents can often pick up extra higher-margin, off-contract jobs.  This is because Service Agents while cleaning and interacting with the customers also discovered that selling add-ons was both possible and satisfying.  If they had remained hidden away at night like every other cleaner they would never have refinished the floor that required a special type of waxing or washed the skylights that needed periodic cleaning.  Sure they would have noticed, but these were off-contract transactions and who among their customers would be around to ask anyway.

Service Agents at SOL can do this because they are aware of pricing policies, margins and finances.  Liisa Joronen also chose to recast other operational and behavioral definitions.  Her company, SOL, for example, also operates with no corporate budgets, uses self-directed teams and maintains a general absence of corporate overhead.  And although they provide an undemanding service, SOL now cleans buildings following this freedom-laden scripting that both cues employee conduct and alters customer mindsets.

A Parallel: SOL's Service Agent has similarities with Disney's long-time Cast Member designation for their amusement park front-line employees referenced from Made To Stick. The metaphor of employees as cast members in a theatrical production is communicated consistently throughout the organization.  As a result, "Cast members don't interview for a job, they audition for a role.  When they are walking around the park, they are onstage.  People visiting Disney are guests, not customers.  Jobs are performances; uniforms are costumes.  This theater metaphor is immensely useful to Disney employees."  SOL Service Member designation isn’t as instinctive, but it defines a learnable behavior script that is profitable and has, along with other complementary redefinitions, set SOL apart from the competition.

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