Open the kimonoIn the spirit of hard hitting, high impact, empirically based research that will inevitably leave an indelible imprint on organizations across all industries in the corporate world, I present the following study. Well actually to be completely accurate, the following “study” meets none of the above criteria and probably hardly constitutes even being classified as “a study” in the first place. But who needs those formalities, technicalities, and methodological rigor. After all, this is a blog and not my attempt to rewrite my master’s thesis and turn it into a submission for the Harvard Business Review. Those caveats considered, take a quick read:

I recently asked my mom – a recently retired school teacher – and a number of her close friends – none of whom have ever stepped foot in a corporate office – how they would respond if someone at work asked them to “open their kimono.”

Here are their hilarious responses and reactions:

  1. “First of all, I think I would be offended…”
  2. “Is it a Japanese company?”
  3. “I’m not sure I understand. Would they be opening the kimono? Or me?”
  4. “Who says things like that?”
  5. “Open the what?!”
  6. “Oh Jimmy, you always ask us silly questions…”
  7. “Isn’t that some form of sexual harassment?”
  8. “You haven’t said that to anyone at work, have you? I’m not sure people will think you are a good team member.”
  9. “Is there a right answer? I don’t have any idea! Maybe ask me an easier one.”
  10. Gave me a quizzical look. Then some awkward laughter. Then walked away nodding her head. Looked back with a smile. (I was happy to see that my relationship with her was not irrevocably damaged)

Open the Kimono – What does it really mean?

And now to the actual definition of this strange term when used by corporate-types:

To reveal what is being planned or to share important information freely. Similar to ‘open the books’ or an ‘open door policy,’ opening the kimono means revealing the inner workings of a project or company to an outside party.”

So for all of us corporate-types in the corporate world, let’s think about my mom, her friends, and these 10 responses the next time we are considering actually using this expression. If these responses aren’t deterrents, then I’m not sure deterrents exist.

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