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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2003, MCB UP Limited
The Seven-Day Weekend
The Seven-Day Weekend
Ricardo SemlerCenturyISBN: 0712677909£16.99
Many people will have heard of Ricardo Semler – the guy who took over an ailing company from his father and, using all sorts of unconventional, if not downright bizarre practices, turned it into a major success – still growing at a remarkable rate. Ricardo eschews conventional planning – no long-term strategy, no five-year plan for him. Nor even conventional formal budgeting. Worse still (until you see the results), no monitoring and control processes for the workforce. Democracy rules in this workplace and shop floor workers make major investment and hiring decisions. Everyone knows how much everyone else earns – all documentation is open. But it seems to work: $100,000 invested in Semco 20 years ago is worth $5.4m today. The business now employs 3,000 staff across three countries.
This book is based on the experiences of running and growing the company. The title comes from the fact that Semco encourages time off during the working week – "If people can answer e-mails on a Sunday, why can't they go to the cinema on a Monday afternoon?"
Expansion and growth are encouraged to emerge from existing business activities. Executives can follow hunches, develop off-shoots in similar areas of business or use existing skills to develop new businesses. This does not follow a clear strategy – or result from focus groups.
Of course, the real questions are: Would this work elsewhere? How much of the success is based around Semler's own personality? His passion is infectious – but is it transferable? Will Semco be around in 25 years' time? Can it survive him?
Of course only time will tell. In the meantime, read this book and, rather than adopting Semler's philosophy in its entirety, think about the underlying concepts and approach. There is plenty to think about – and "thinking about" is what makes good managers. Rather than treating Semler as a "guru", regard him as a maverick – but as a maverick from whom you can learn.
"Empowerment" is almost yesterday's thing: reading Semler suggests that it is also tomorrow's! Learn from his passion, and his willingness to experiment, to trust his judgement and that of his staff.