Ricardo Semler tells great ripping yarns. His book 'Maverick' is an honest account of a young man taking control of the family business and steering the company through most of the management fads of the 20th century. He has great people skills, finely tuned intuition, self confidence and the ability to admit mistakes. The journey turned the company into a massive success through a group of businesses, which thrived even during the worst crashes of the Brazilian economy. His main claim to fame is the sociological experiment with his people.
This book takes us further. Semler has focussed on aspiring to workplace democracy. That means relinquishing control. He may own the biggest chunk of the business, but he doesn't exercise power of veto, but goes along with consensus.
He still tells ripping yarns and ranges widely across philosophical tales, great thinkers and writers of our age and forecasts for the future.
What makes him different from Peters, Handy and Harvey-Jones? Semler isn't one to recycle the same old stories from book to book, nor put together stuff from elsewhere. He tells tales from recent history including dot.com mistakes and learning. He considers his own balance and focus on wisdom.
He advocates revolutionary stuff that only a handful of companies worldwide (mostly privately owned) practise. He dismisses corporate window dressing of mission statements and employee consultation and points out how far we go to war to defend democracy, but practice Eastern bloc centralisation in our workplace.
He tells a great tale about CEO egos that refused to recognise the writing on the wall of their dot.coms and allowed their companies to lose megabucks instead of joining forces in humility.
He encourages people to start where they are and affect the few people under them, instead of moaning that it's impossible in their context. He notes how many business schools and consultants preach empowerment, but run autocratic, tightly controlled organisations themselves.
He writes about how he works constantly to pull back from being placed in the role of saint/leader with the Midas touch, ensuring that the business is sustainable through the mass of employees rather than the one with a reputation.
He challenges macho latino stereotypes for men in other ways including his admission that he's never sure how his parallel parking will work out and that he wishes car companies would invent swivel wheels. There is a lot of space devoted to creativity and innovation, as well as a discussion of forces that work against change.
The 7 day w/e is a study of how to make the whole of life balanced and enjoyable.
Dangerous stuff. Read and enjoy.