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Maverick: The Story of Semco, an Amazing Workplace

maverickAwhile back Jason at Signal vs Noise recommended a book called Maverick which I immediately ordered. It sat on my shelf unread until just prior to my trip to Brasil. I figured it would make a good book for the flight down and as a bonus it was about a Brasilian company.

The book was fabulous.

It’s the story of turning a company inside out and removing management and giving that control to the workers. The book is a narrative story and it is so fast paced you’ll be able to read it in a few days. It will inspire you to overcome obstacles and think about situations completely differently. Semco enables the employees themselves to hire their supervisors, their managers, and even select warehouse locations and make decisions ranging from vendors to uniform colors. They don’t have a layer of management to do this anymore. Since employees as a team can also fire the supervisors they have the incentive to find someone good. They even have open books and everybody sets their own salary (and bonus).

By Chris Tingom

Principal of Tornado Design, a Phoenix, AZ based web consultancy

3 replies on “Maverick: The Story of Semco, an Amazing Workplace”

So, how would you compare the environment at Semco to that of Google, as discussed in this article?
Who’s Really Running Google? – Forbes.com

While Forbes doesn’t really poo-poo on the unusual employee-centric control model of Google and Semco, I think it does highlight how following that model can potentially cause a company to quickly spiral out of control if not handled absolutely right.

Almost seems to me that attempting to manage the “absolutely right” decisions would be more time consuming and stressful than managing typical business models.

I think what Semco does and what Google do are completely separate.

Are there any good books out on the inner workings of Google?

What I see at Google is this: an amazing waste of money, too much bloat, and a search engine that is amazing and holding this bloat together.

[…] So this got me thinking. Is there a way to combine both of these worlds. I think that profit sharing plans are a start, however I like some of the things that Semco does in Brasil. They basically put people in charge of their salary along with the ability to hire and fire their managers. Since their co workers can also vote to remove someone, there’s a lot of incentive to be fair. […]

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