Sunday, September 18, 2011

Maverick -- Ricardo Semler

“If you know how to respond to official mails/calls during the weekend, you should also know how to watch a movie during the working hours”. – Ricardo Semler

‘Crazy’ is the word you’ll utter repeatedly when you’ll sift through the pages. And the second word would be ‘cool’. The impression this book would leave on anyone would be for a lifetime.  It’s almost like a fairy tale, which would start like, “Once upon a time, there lived a crazy man who changed all the rules...and which definitely has an ending like ‘happily ever after, or happily successful” or something on those lines.

Ricardo Semler was just in his 20s when he joined his father’s business. And since he joined, he turned his work place into something that even the no one would have ever dreamt of in the wildest of dreams. He made Semco the most unusual workplace ever. To get that tag, he challenged the age-old rules, did all unimaginable things possible, which, in a way enraged and delighted  the employees. The day he took charge of the place, he fired 60% of all the top managers. This baffled everyone as they were the ones who called most of the shots and firing them meant that they were literally on their own now. Everyone immediately doubted his capabilities and abilities. Well, little did everyone know that, that it was just the start of an unexpected and thrilling ride. Slowly but surely, the working environment and rules of the company went through major dramatic changes. The very people who initially doubted him, fell in love with his unique ideas and supported and helped him to make Semco a very successful business. After he took over, he took the company to dizzying heights and made it into a money churning place.

When Ricardo was diagnosed with acute stress and given an ultimatum by the doctors, he knew he had to make a drastic change in his lifestyle. Instead of bringing a change in his personal life like most do, he brought the much needed changes in his workplace, where most of his time was spent. Result was a stress-free, fun, employee friendly environment and a much relaxed, healthier Ricardo and happier employees. He wiped the rule slate clean and re-wrote the rules which seemed like the procedure of a whacky experiment. He removed the hierarchical system that is prevalent in all the companies and introduced a more employee friendly circular system, he broke down all the walls of the company, in literal sense too, he left it to the employees working in the production how they want to produce and did not burden them with unrealistic numbers, and rest I guess I should leave it for the readers to find out. My personal favourites were how the employees could choose a different work station and suitable work timings every single day! The best being, when a new person came in to join, there was no management who recruited them. Instead, the very team who was supposed to work with him/her are the ones who interview him and select him, irrespective of the post the new person was applying to. If he wanted to join as the manager, his subordinates were the ones to evaluate. I mean, how cool is that! Imagine having the power in your hands to select or reject your supervisor :D. Even an unproductive boss could be fired by his subordinates. (Yes, you can stop dreaming now. It’s not gonna happen with lesser  mortals like us). There are many such amazing surprises this company has in store which will undoubtedly delight the readers.

You might think that it really takes a lot of guts to give most of the power to the employees instead of managing them, which is the usual norm. Or you might think he was too uncertain or a coward to raise hands and shove all the responsibility to others and just view the entire show as a mute spectator. Well, whatever your initial thoughts about him are, you’ll end up bowing down to him or worship him. Alright, I’m being a tad dramatic here but I’m sure he’ll join your list of ‘People who inspire me or People I want to meet’ (I definitely want to meet him..if anyone reading this knows him personally, who know how to make me happy  :-D ). I don’t know how many of you would try those techniques in your own companies but I’m sure everyone of you will that moment of ‘I so wish I could work there’ or ‘why isn’t my company this cool’. To be honest, I had that moment and it lasted for, well, I think I’m still in that moment. 

This crazy man inspires, amazes and baffles me. He’ll rub off his crazy charm on you too. Go ahead, pick up this book about an awesome company, lead by a cool man, with unbelievable rules that somehow work! This book will make you gasp, marvel, wonder and dream. Enjoy...