Episode 11: Ricardo Semler
São Paulo, Brazil
Ricardo Semler, author and business manager, is celebrated
as a role model of a Chief Executive who breaks all
the traditional rules and succeeds, massively.
Semler eliminated what he called 'corporate oppression" from his
company, Semco: time clocks, dress codes, security
procedures, privileged office spaces and perks, they
all went. There were to be no receptionists or secretaries.
He set up 'factory committees' to run the plants, in an attempt
to get more worker involvement and Semler guaranteed that
no-one could be fired while serving on the committees or
for at least a year afterwards.
Ricardo then introduced profit-sharing schemes for all the
workers. The thought that they could directly influence their own
pay encouraged the committees to look for savings and to question
any procedures or layers of management that didn't seem to add value.
Managers were hired and fired by their own employees. More
than that, the units were now inventing new businesses for themselves.
And so Semco grew, entirely due to the initiatives of its workers.
The workers have unrestricted access to all corporate records
and are taught how to read financial reports; they set their own
wages and their own production quotas.
When the number of people in a Semco unit hits the 100 to 200 mark
it is split in two, like it or not.
Semler lists six principles that guide his always experimental company:
1. don't increase business size unnecessarily
2. never stop being a start-up
3. don't be a nanny to your workers
4. let talent find its place
5. make decisions quickly and openly
6. partner promiscuously, you can't do it all yourself.
In our next talk we meet someone very different. He has been called
the world's most successful business academic. He is Michael
Read Ricardo Semler's