What is the Open Kimono?

The Open Kimono has been described as
“a mix of Malcom Gladwell and Dilbert.”



Ever since the Industrial Revolution, workers have complained about working conditions, their boss, and workplace fads.  It is rumored that the employees in Eli Whitney’s cotton gin factory in the late 1790s referred to him as “that a-hole who doesn’t pay overtime.” Over the coming centuries, production workers would give way to knowledge workers, but the grind of daily work-life remained.  The Open Kimono is an attempt to free your mind from the intellectual cubicle walling it in.  We hold a mirror to the absurdities of corporate life and hope you will laugh at the way things are while you think about how it can be better. 

The Open Kimono is part satire and part real research and analysis.  It’s broken down into useful bites of information that you can put into practice without sifting through pages of boring white papers.  



The first section of the Kimono is satire.  The names and companies mentioned are fictitious, except in cases where public figures are satirized.  The First Amendment protects satire as a form of free speech and expression.  Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental.  The Kimono is not intended for readers under 18 years of age.

What does the phrase “open kimono” mean?


To “open your kimono” means to be transparent or share freely without hiding anything.  It’s very similar to other phrases, such as “open the books.” The website Investopedia.com says that it can also mean to “reveal the inner workings of a project or company to an outside party.”


According to the internet, which never lies to us, the phrase grew in popularity in the 1980s during a period of acquisitions of American companies by Japanese firms.  Steve Jobs used the term in 1979 during a visit to Xerox Parc and Microsoft marketers had adopted the term in the 1990s.  Since then, it has become a commonly used catchphrase in business.  (Even Dilbert and The Office used it!)


Isn’t the term sexist?


If you’re thinking of geisha girls in a massage parlor, then get your mind out of the gutter.  A kimono is an outer garment traditionally worn by both men and women, young and old (and required dress for Sumo wrestlers too).  It’s not the bathrobe Westerners envision it to be.

Isn’t the term culturally insensitive?

Try again, social justice warrior.  The Japanese don’t use the term, and the Japanese people we spoke with had never heard the term, nor were they offended.  As one aptly put it, “We’re not offended, but I’m sure this is another case of Americans telling us [the Japanese] what we should be offended about.”

“Within a few weeks of reading The Open Kimono, I found myself in the CEO’s office.”
Freddy BowmanInmate at Orange County Corrections. Arrested for breaking and entering.
“I haven’t read an entire book since the 4th grade. I like The Open Kimono because I don’t have to read lots of research papers or listen to boring lectures. It’s like Cliff Notes for the business world.”
Jane LunenbergLearning and Development Manager
“Ever since I started reading The Open Kimono, I began to look at everything at work differently. I have also quadrupled the amount of money I contribute to the office swear jar.”
Andres PenaDirector of Philanthropy
“Because of The Open Kimono, I openly question everything management does.”
Caleb JohnsonRecently unemployed

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