Review of ‘Maverick’ by Ricardo Semler

Have we ever thought of our dream place to work? I am sure most of us will agree to following qualifiers as our dream place:

  • Define your own working hours
  • decide your own salary
  • elect & select your own boss
  • decide your annual business/work goals & objectives
  • you have say in key strategic decisions
  • compulsory off of three weeks
  • No rules & policies
  • major decisions are by consensus (which means senior mgmt have least say in critical decisions)
  • You know how much your boss (and his/her boss…) is earning

Though we all will agree to above mentioned points, most of us will consider this a dream, unless we know about Semco. Yes, there is an organization ‘Semco’ in São Paulo, Brazil, which follows above mentioned principles.

Semco doesn’t have any organization rules & policies. You decide your salary while joining the company. You are offered blank offer letter, where you write your own salary. You decide your working hours. There are no receptionist. One who arrives late, sit at the reception desk. Bosses are selected/elected by subordinates. Critical decisions are taken by majority. Semco had to build new manufacturing plant, and they decided by majority, which was dominated by workers preference over senior management preference. Salaries are not kept secret. Any employee can walk-in to payroll department and inquire about salaries (be it CEO or boss or peer).

Yes, that is Semco, established by Antonio Semler in 60’s and taken to scalable heights by Ricardo semler 1980 onwards. Ricardo Semler has transformed Semco from a family established business to the ‘Semco’ which is known today.

Ricardo Semler has written ‘Maverick’, explaining the journey from hard-core centralize decision making company to real empowered, employees driven company. What it does to build companies run by employees, one which had sustained several economic downturn, recession and still remain in the business successfully. Also it explains, how a company can still be profitable and still run by employees in true sense. How in a unionized driven market, Semco has instill confidence in the employees such that there aren’t any union influence. Semler even went to the extent, establishing satellite companies (run by there ex-employees) as separate company.

Overall, a must read book for mid-level, top level executives, enterprenuers to understand at end of day its not only numbers matters. What matters most is how you build a company driven by employees, on trust, confidence. Where nobody is indispensable.

Few sites to be browsed upon for further readings:

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricardo_Semler
  • http://www.inc.com/articles/2004/03/7dayweekend.html (Another book ‘7 day weekend’ by Ricardo Semler)
  • http://www.team-wise.co.uk/resource/ricardo_semler_maverick.htm
  • http://www.profitadvisors.com/maverick.shtml
  • http://dpsinfo.com/essays/maverick.html
  • Semco website: http://semco.locaweb.com.br/en/
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One Response to Review of ‘Maverick’ by Ricardo Semler

  1. Jesse G says:

    This is not a dream. And it’s not only at Semco. Semco WAS the only company with this kind of work environment for a very long time. Now…it’s in the U.S., too. Best Buy has what’s called a Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE). There are no work schedules. Every meeting is optional. You don’t have to ask permission to see a movie on a Tuesday afternoon or grocery shop on a Thursday morning. People literally do whatever they want whenever they want, as long as their work gets done. I’ve heard that the creators of ROWE, Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, have a book coming out in May 2008 and it sounds like a “tell-all” about how ROWE started. They also have a great blog that you can find at http://www.caliandjody.com.

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