Ricardo Semler – How to run a company with (almost) no rules

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Here at PFL HQ, we have a thing called TED Friday. This essentially means that every Friday morning the entire company is spammed with a link to an interesting/inspiring/whatever TED talk, and a little ramble about why it’s great and what we can take away from it. This initiative has been pretty well-received but alas, much of the time it either gets deleted immediately after hitting its targeted inbox, or gets stored elsewhere for that elusive (read: fictitious) time ‘later on’ to be watched. So imagine what delight/surprise/pure elation filled the air when, one particular Friday, the following responses, testimonies if you will, came back:

“Unbelievably…insanely…genuinely my favourite viewing of all time.

“GREAT video…his talk definitely got me thinking about what I would do on my ‘terminal days.’”

“This has now officially had a big and positive impact on my life.”

Ok calm your farms, we hear you all clambouring and scrambling to know who exactly did this ripper of a talk?! What it could possibly be about to elicit such a frenzy of inspiration? What subject matter could be so equally profound to such a varied group of people? Well, the speaker was Ricardo Semler, CEO of Semco Group, and you should definitely check out his talk on ‘how to run a company with (almost) no rules’ (link below) to understand what it’s all about. But before you do dear reader, come on a journey through space and time (or, just read on while we briefly touch on his philosophies, then go watch the talk for yourself). Let’s first let the man himself give a quick insight into the gist of it:

I couldn’t help thinking that Semco could be run differently, without counting everything, without regulating everyone, without keeping track of whether people were late, without all those numbers and all those rules. What if we could strip away all the artificial nonsense, all the managerial mumbo jumbo? What if we could run the business in a simpler way, a more natural way?”

A wise Google Momentum (link at the end if you don’t know what this is and trust us, it’s worth the click) once said that ‘how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives’ (deeeeeeeep right?). So with that in mind, perhaps it’s time we looked at the way we work and the way we spend our days and thus lives – geographically, emotionally, physically – the whole shabam.

We aren’t going to go into detail of who Semco are and what they do, (old mate google.com will be happy to help you) the main thing is understanding how that sentiment translates to day to day life. So, let’s look at a few specific examples that will hopefully blow your mind, like they did ours, and leave you with something to think about/act on (after all, TED is about the spread of good ideas right)?

  1. Semco employees are able to buy back a day in their work week for a percentage of their salary (10% specifically, according to Semler in his TED talk). The idea here being that you should use this time to do the things on your bucket list, because #yolo
  2. Employees work when they want, from wherever they want, however they want. Hence, as Semler says, “all that’s left to judge on is performance.”
  3. Transparency is a major factor. Back in the day, an analyst was hired to establish average pay scales for each position across the industry and within the company. Semco added 10% to these and then published the salaries of every employee, including Semler’s, so it was available for all to see.

So perhaps it’s not that everything Semler says and does should be immediately adopted. Rather, it’s that all the cogs come whirring to life and we look at work with fresh eyes by going back to basics and challenging the way things have always been done. If this has peaked your interest enough that you follow the scent of workplace revolution back to the fire, then we’d love to hear about your hopes and plans for your own ‘terminal days’ (not as ominous as it sounds).

Check them out here-

Ted Talk!

Google Momentum!

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

up arrow