The Semco Style 5 Principles to transform the way we work

Break Down Silos

– Bring Down those Walls

We did away with strictures that dictate the flows and created fertile soil for differences. We give people the opportunity to test, question and disagree. – Ricardo Semler


Consistently removing barriers between workers (literally and figuratively), encouraging interaction, mixing units in the same building.


Open-mindedness and open communication require an unblocked flow of energy, enough face-to-face interaction to allow for atunement, and a nourishing environment.


Remove barriers: Semco is designed to allow people to mingle; offices don’t have walls, and every possible barrier to open communication is eliminated. Semco is also consistent in removing silos and barriers between workers, encouraging them to interact with each other in order to let new ideas and new initiatives come to the surface unhindered.

Circulate actively: leaders are encouraged to meander through the organization and be out of their ‘comfort zones’ as frequently as possible, engaging people in high-energy conversations; departments are mixed together in the same work spaces.

Be democratic with your time: communicate with everyone equally and make sure everybody gets a chance to contribute. Feel comfortable approaching other people, listening as much or more than you talk.

Be a connector: link people to one another and spread ideas around.

When (NOT) to use it?

This practice is especially effective in the beginning stages of going Semco Style, when it is important to ‘talking-the-talk’, ‘walking-the-walk’, and ‘walking the talk’. However, most work situations benefit when everyone can talk and listen to each other – facing one another, engaging in energetic conversations. When employees can connect directly with one another – not just with the team leader. It drives performance when people can carry on back-channel or side conversations within their own team, and can periodically go exploring outside their own team, seeking ideas from outside, bringing information back. Obviously there are situations when focus or confidentiality are required, when mingling is less of a priority or temporarily not wise.

Level to implement



Open source office spaces and
communication systems

Practice listening

Mix with working at home


Compartmentalized offices and
communication systems

Being too busy to meander

Treat mingling as trespassing


Organizational learning

Shared practices







Imagine …

… you are a journalist and have been called in to do an interview at Semco about a new business venture. Once you arrive at the company, nobody is waiting to receive you. You start asking other people because there is no receptionist at the front desk either. Then you ask for the Corporate Communications Department, but there is no such thing at Semco. As a next step, you ask for Mrs. Obrigada, the person who contacted you, and the answer you receive is even more wearisome: “She is there but I don’t know where. Since we restructured 5 years ago, these are non-territorial-offices and every day, sometimes even more often, we choose any free place to work.” So what do you do? You start mingling, without knowing that Management by Mingling is one of the practices at Semco. Suddenly, you hear people talking loudly, so you walk towards the noise. On your way you become aware that there are no doors or walls separating the workplaces, only plants and flowers, and, as you get closer to the group whose discussion you overheard, you are noticed by one of the ladies. She asks you “what do you think?” ”Well”, you say, “I was not invited to this session, but let me consider your question for a moment”. Before you know it you are engaged in deep conversation …


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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