The Semco Style 5 Principles to transform the way we work

Information Belongs To Everybody

– Unfiltered Transparency

Sharing information rather than making money is the reason for existence for a successful company. – Ricardo Semler


What

Information is the ultimate source of virtually all power. For this reason, Semco Style aims to make all of it available to everyone. All meetings are open. Designs and specifications are shared. The company’s books are open for inspection by employees and for auditing by their unions. In short: eliminate the process of filtering and negotiating information that goes on in so many corporations


Why

Leadership begins with giving people the opportunity to confront the brutal facts of current reality and to act on the implications. When you start with an honest and diligent effort to collectively determine the truth of a situation, the right decisions often become self-evident.


How

Make all corporate information public: if everyone in the company is to contribute meaningfully, they have to understand the business aspects thoroughly and accurately. The only way to do that is full disclosure, sharing all corporate information.

Invite sessions to re-think the important numbers: concentrating on the big and understandable numbers, that are freely available to all (salaries, expenses, profits, are all disclosed), and where everybody is free to question managers on any aspect of the business.

When (NOT) to use it?

Given that this practice is key to Semco Style, we advocate to use it by default. In order to do so, you need to create a climate where the truth is allowed to be heard. Obviously there are situations – like an acquisition process – when not everything can be shared directly. The notion of trust expects that info will not leak to the wrong hands. Sensitive Information is negotiated as such and classified or encrypted if necessary, with maximum transparency.


Level to implement

  Medium


DO’S

Full disclosure

Appreciative inquiry

Focus on the big numbers

DON’TS

Filtering information

Keeping ‘Trade Secrets’

Information overkill

Pros

Engagement

Accountability

High Performance

Cons

Vulnerability

Loss of control

Uncomfortable


INSIGHT

The origins of corporate secrecy can be traced to the insecurity of executives who possessed the technical skills to scale the corporate pyramid but weren’t mature enough to handle the height. They wanted to be seen as different from those who had not attained their perch. By keeping information secret, they felt they would keep themselves apart from others. The problem with secrets is that people just assume the worst, whether it’s about profit or salaries. The truth may not always be pretty, or easily explained, but is always better out in the open. – Ricardo Semler