Ricardo Semler ist ein brasilianischer Unternehmer der durch eine radikale Demokratisiserung seines Unternehmens bekannt geworden ist. In dem Buch „The Seven-Day Weekend“ spricht er über seine Management Philisophie.
Gelesen im Oktober 2017.
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Ask Why. Ask it all the time. Always ask it three times in a row.
Employees must be free to question, to analyze, to investigate, and a company must be flexible enough to listen to the answers.
Semco’s three basic criteria to be satisfied when considering a new venture: first, we look for complexity. High entry barrier of complexity. If a new business isn’t hard for us and for others to break into, then we are not interested. Second, we are the premium player. Offer a high-end product or service. That means we are always more expensive because we provide the premium that stretches what the customer will pay. Third, we want a unique niche in the market, one that makes us a major player in any given industry. This follows naturally from the first two requirements.
We want to be only in businesses where our disappearance would cause our disheartened customer to complain loudly.
People have learned to answer e-mails on Sunday evening but hey don’t know how to go to the movies on Monday afternoon.
Flextime at assambly line – Why would adult jeopardize their output, their jobs? If they don’t care that the assembly line moves or stops, then we have a much graver problem, and the sooner we find out the better.
The problem commitee never met. The day before the flextime began, people turned to their left and right and asked what time the others would be comining in next morning. End of story.
Bio-rhythmus – if I demand that a worker shows up at 8, even if she is someone who regularly sleeps until 9, all I will get is a couple of hours of her least productive time. If I’m closing down at 18, I’m sending her home just as she’s hitting her stride. Someone else may be alert and prolific after a 20-minute catnap in the afternoon.
If I insist on standard work hours, I may be sacrificing a certrain amount of employee potential every day. By encouraging uniformity, I lose productivity.
Four important tasks a day equal a thousand important things per year, or ten thousand tasks by the time your kid is ten-years-old. Nobody can have that many important tasks to perform.
Doesn’t it take out the joy out of the weekend? – It could, but I’ve transported joy to every weekday.
Freedom is no easy thing. It introduces difficult choices. It’s much easier for people to give into a familiar system in which they don’t have to make any decisions.
The expectation that the workplace is an extended family is a source of stress and disappointment.
You don’t have to like people to work with them. Finding compatibility of purpose at work does not require surrounding yurself only with those you like. You can admire people, even if you don’t like them.
Why doesn’t money buy success if almost everyone measures their success in cash?
If an employee has no interest in a product or project, then that venture will never succeed. I would rather find that out early on.
If workers are compelled to do jobs they are not excited about, it guarantees the company or product will never excel.
If the people are not motivated, they don’t need to sign up for motivation training – they need a different job! They might rotate to another position, go to work in a different office, participate more in project meetings, or find another way to work for the company on a part-time, commission or representative basis.
We msut acknowledge that it’s human nature to lose interest in anything after time.
It is a fallacy for traditional companies to boast they want people with „passion“ to work for them, because people cannot be passionate about doing the same thing over and over.
Passion is very rare. It’s a sketch to find it in an office job.
It’s a disservice to expect all workers to feel passion for their jobs. It sets up an expectation that cannot be met.
Instead, companies need to understand that interests tend to be cyclical. Semco offers incentives to employees to move around different jobs and departments.
Unfortunately, our society conditions us to accept boredom from an early age – we are taught to expect it in school.
The truth is closer to this: most of the people who look for common office or factory jobs do not have a calling for what the work entails. They just need a job, to keep themselves and their family thriving so they can otherwise pursue ther real calling. Is it a waste of time to deal with these people? Not at all, because they still have a reservoir of talent worth discovering. They just have to be given the opportunity to discover it themselves.
Purging „dead wood“ inevitably creates another problem – people find themselves working in a reign of terror, their fear of mistakes killing their creativity. But a system should learn from its mistakes. Process is paramount to knowledge, and mistakes are poserful catalysts for the process.
Ricardo Semler has his own resolution to study two hours a day.
Collecting money is like amassing any other item. By definition, no collector can ever be happy. There will always be a piece that can’t be had.
A few years ago, it was popular for business gurus to equate companies with armies. Now the same gurus equate a good company to a symphony orchestra. An orchestra brings together individuals with initiative, discipline and love of their art. These musicians join forces to create something that cannot occur without cooperation and participation.
The other advantage of an orchestra is that a single person can direct 120 musicians, as opposed to the five-to-15, manager to employee ratio in most orgainizations. Because in a symphony, everyone knows what they are doing and they play a common score.
Organizations must help workers indulge their interesets and talents by seeking the same professional growth and satisfaction as musicians.
Peer control is as effective as reporting and autiting.
A company that lacks integrity will eventually lose its best employees. Some will quit, others will stay and be dumbed down. Anyone who stays will disengage emotionally.
A company can’t expect integrity from its employees until they see it in the organization.
The biggest mistake successful people and companies make is believing that their success immortalizes their way of doing things. Questioning that is a taboo. Any dissent is cut away.
Hiring – qualitites required: quick analytical mind, capacity to itegrate easily, an attitude of teamwork, transparency/openness, lack of a yes-man attitude, career of deliberate and solid growth and sense of humour.
If people don’t have a good idea of their role, if they don’t grasp the purpose of a process, then the group will use only 70 or 80 percent of its talent and expertise.
If you have groups of ten people each, those clusters can be counted on to monitor themselves.
Groups of between six and ten people know all about each other and don’t need outside control.
Rather than seeing 40.000 employees, look at 4.000 groups of ten people each. Those ten will always know what’s going on within their group, where the problems are, whether the people they work with are doing their jobs on time and in tune.
One unit spending a lot of money on supplies – instead of imposing a rule to limit the amount of supplies, employees decided to divide into groups. The group that spent the most on supplies would „lose“ and have to buy afternoon snacks and coffee for everyone else. The result was a 21% reduction in supply costs.
We know when and if people are really interested. We also know that people who pretend to be interested, or who show up out of necessity will never be the ones with the energy and drive that we need. If they are not interested in this particular project or meeting, we would rather converse their energy for something else.
If Semco forced workers to attend meetings, we would never learn when projects or subjects are of no interest to the company’s employees. If no one signs up to take part in a collective interview, then we know that employees didn’t think the job we were trying to fill was important or necessary.
What if we attempt a new project, but no one wants to work on it? Then that new service or product shouldn’t exist. Not until someone really wants to see it happen – then it will take off in no time.
Self-management means the freedom to do good work – or not. It’s the freedom to be actively involved in shaping the company or to simply report to work every day. Freedom to be a „9-to-5er“ is also freedom.
Business culture is like a long-simmering stew. The right mix of people is essential. Every organization needs its share of indifferent and uninterested workers to balance its leaders, joiners and activists. [DR – does it apply to IT, where knowledge depriciates at a rapid pace?]
Accepting that there is no such thing as a „special worker“ perfectly suited for one company means accepting worker individuality. Once you do that, you set the stage for making the most of that individuality by encouraging workers to tap their inner reservoir and find a balance between their aspirations and the company’s.
How many hours a day do I work? The actual amount of butt-in-the-chair is not much – maybe 4-5 hours per day. But the mind is always working in the background and that can be unnerving.
Traditional companies and organizations have been well served by a military structure. It consolidates power in a few hands, creates a chain of command that eliminates uncertainty and makes the rules of behaviour and engagement clear to all. However, it also stifles two pillars of creativity: free though and free speech.
Even though I have a seizable ego myself, I am not convinced that I always know best. So I don’t subject my organization to the belief that I am the most knowledgeable person in the place. Once I accept people’s expertise as valuable, I definitely want some form of democracy. I want to be disagreed with, criticized, voted down.
Every six months, workers fill out a questionnaire that asks things like: does your boss treat his subordinates the same way he treats other managers? If the boss treats others differently, that’s a barrier to participating in the process.
Will workers choose leaders who are nice to them, even if those are ineffective? People will not follow someone they don’t respect for long. Also, Semco’s employees participate in profit sharing, so they know that their livelihood depends on the company doing well. They won’t support someone who is nice but ineffective.
It is arrogant of executives to believe that the company will do better if they are involved. Thinking you can do something better than anyone else is irresponsible. The company will be weaker if I think only I can make decisions, and customers or partners believe they need me more than anyone else.
Unless you have arrogance borne of 100 percent success rate you have no business making colleagues or employees do something that they don’t heartily support.
People want one person to lead them and to save them. But two things happen very quickly when a leader becomes a hero. People will delegate upward when they believe the CEO is important. In turn, the CEO begins to believe his own press. He begins to view the masses in the company as people who are going to execute his mission, his values. It does not matter if the workers cannot find anything in his plan that intersects with their interests, talents or skills. They will just do their jobs, however unenthusuastically.
Semco’s board: Ricardo holds one seat and three are permanently filled with senior executives. Two rotate among senior managers, two are given over on a first-come, first- served basis to any worker in the company. Whoever signs up first gets to sit in on the next board meeting.
Best leaders choose people better than themselves as their subordinates.
At one point, I had what I thought was a brilliant idea. I called a meeting to discuss this ingenious new business plan – and no one showed up. Even though I still thought it was a great idea, I had to shelve it. If I ordered people to work on the project, they would do so only under duress, perhaps ensuring that it would not succeed.
Business plans and budgets are nothing more than extrapolation of wishful thinking.
Information supports intuition and that’s why we make exact information available to everyone, from assembly-line workers to senior executives.
Organizations must treat mistakes like luck – both are necessary, come at times when they are not expected and add to existing effort.
We have to change all the time just to stay alive.
Once established in organizations, humans do two things: sabotage changes that might render them dispensable and ensure industry-wide emulation.
How do we bring people to love risk? By replacing control with democracy, by allowing employees to choose their own managers and think and act independently. First step toward creativity and confidence must include internal movement. Move people around from job to job, unit to unit. Mix and match. This blocks the human tendency to concoct feudal systems and build fortresses. Change also means that a company must be willing to sher or undo elements of itself that no longer have a future. It must be ready to unilaterally sell, spin off or close units – it must be ready to cannibaliue itself.
Insecurity and change are what we are after at Semco.
Many times we begin strategy meetings by asking ourselves what we would do if we were our competitors. Then we look for a way to do whatever it is ourselves, first. We try to avoid the fate of Ford.
People who have two employees working for them can change two, five or ten lives. That’s a lot of change.
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