The Semco Style 5 Principles to transform the way we work
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Você tá Louco | Are You Out Of Your Mind?

Generating radical ideas to seed innovation

People have a reservoir of talent worth discovering. They just have to be given the opportunity to discover it in themselves – Ricardo Semler

In a Nutshell

When a company fails to innovate, it’s quite easy to assume they failed because of a lack of ideas or creativity. While this might be somewhat true, it’s not a case of lack of ideas. Ideas, in reality, can be easily found but companies lack in innovation because they have a listening problem.

In typical, hierarchical organizations, idea generation is the remit of higher management, or teams set up for the said purpose. When approached in this fashion, the company’s potential for innovation gets seriously limited. And, company leaders will never hear about the game changing idea of someone working on the production line.

Now imagine this: A platform of innovation created for everyone. When companies stop fussing about who’s allowed to innovate or come up with the next big idea, there will be no dearth of radical ideas that were just waiting to be discovered.

However, this platform or meeting space can be nothing formal or official. It should be something that is truly dedicated to discovering and discussing radically innovative ideas. It needs to be a sacred space where people cannot be allowed to talk shop. But they’re allowed to cook up the most crazy, outlandish ideas without fear of judgement. The more people react with incredulity and disbelief, the better the idea.


Create a meeting space without any obligation for people to generate radical innovative ideas.


Innovation doesn’t appear from thin air. Instead, people need a platform dedicated to generating innovative ideas. Once there is a special meeting set up for this purpose you will have created a starting point for innovation. Once ideas are generated, make sure people understand that there’s no compulsion to act upon every idea raised. Instead, focus on the ideas that stand out from the pool can and can be realistically developed. Then, as a natural consequence of putting those ideas into action, innovation and incremental innovation will gain traction throughout the company.



Invite everyone to the meetings: Regardless of their status, invite every member of staff to the meeting. Since truly radical ideas can come from anyone, you will be limiting the level of possibilities if you just include people from the management or certain teams within the company. However, there should be no obligation to attend – instead, keep the doors open for anyone who would like to participate.

Keep the meetings informal: The meetings should be fun and informal and don’t need to have a set schedule. A good average is to hit one meeting per month, but of course you could hold more or less, depending on the level of eagerness from your people. As for the duration of these meetings, it’s a good idea to set aside a couple of hours after regular working hours.

Be radical or go home: The purpose of the meeting is to generate radical ideas. So refrain from discussing other general business discussions during the course of these meetings. Now isn’t the time to give your director updates on the productivity of your team. Instead, everyone must be intentional about discussing innovation. And being radical at that. The ideas need to be so disruptive and extraordinary that the first response they elicit is, “Are you out of your mind?” This meeting isn’t the place for lukewarm or safe ideas. Instead, think of it as an incubator for bold, ambitious ideas that challenge people to step out of their comfort zone and to disrupt the status quo.

Use the ideas like springboards: Once crazy ideas are proposed, explore how they could be converted into realities. Ideas generated at this meeting can act as inspiration for actual projects, pilots, other improvements, or small-scale experiments. Think of these big, crazy ideas as a springboards for achievable innovation. Analyzing which ones can be made real, will naturally fuel incremental innovation and acts as the first step towards realizing an impossible idea.

End the meeting with a date: Before you wind up one of these meetings, make sure you schedule the next one. Not only will this help you gauge the level of engagement, in the initial stages, it will also be something that makes people feel more involved and excited. Keep the scheduling activity very informal, but maintain a central mechanism (like HR announcements) to ensure that newer people find their way in.

Level to implement



Make the meetings inclusive as innovative ideas can come from anyone

Facilitate open collaboration

Make it safe for people to share crazy ideas without fear of judgment

Think up the craziest proposals possible

Have fun


Hold back when coming up with ideas

Judge other people’s proposals with criticism or negativity

Make it compulsory to attend these meetings

Get too attached to your ideas because they may not always be implemented


A springboard to introduce innovation into company operations

A method to disrupt the status quo

Continually pushes people out of their comfort zone

Opens people up to experimentation

Boosts sense of ownership and creativity at the workplace


People may feel frustrated because not every idea can be implemented

Ideas may be implemented a little differently from the original concept

There could be a large gap between the idea and what is realistically possible in the moment

A lot of energy can be spent on irrelevant discussions

There is no guarantee ideas will add any real value to the company when implemented

Case Study

As a result of the Você tá Louco | Are you Out of Your Mind meetings Semco developed an initiative called Aposente-se um pouco | One Day for Your Passion.

The idea was born from the frustration people feel during their working lives because of the lack of time to pursue their passions. People typically plan to follow their passions once they retire and have the time to devote to their hobbies or passions. The idea was to allow every Semco employee to take one day off each work week so that they could pursue the dreams they have in their personal lives. For instance, taking up photography, learning Chinese, learning to paint, spending time with family, going to climb the local mountain and so on.

The concept was simple: People shouldn’t have to wait until they retire to pursue their dreams and aspirations beyond the workplace. Semco took this idea, born in one of its Voce Ta Louco meetings and made into a reality. Employees were informed they could take one day off each week to pursue their hobbies or personal aspirations. This was followed for a period of time, but isn’t currently in practice. However, it’s a great example that demonstrates how some really great ideas can be born from the Voce Ta Louco meetings. It also shows how it wasn’t compulsory that all ideas had to be implemented in full, or for evermore.


Expert avatar

Borges, Ian

Co-founder at LeadWise | Partner at Semco Style Institute | Entrepreneur | Lifestyle Strategist | Digital Nomad

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Portuguese, English, French, Spanish

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