The Semco Style 5 Principles to transform the way we work
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Keep Rules To A Minimum

Best things come in small packages

To survive in modern times, a company must have an organizational structure that accepts change as its basic premise, lets tribal customs thrive and fosters a power that is derived from respect, not rules. – Ricardo Semler

In a Nutshell

When Ricardo Semler took over Semco from his father in 1980, it was a traditional company with a rule for every contingency. Twelve years later, there were no dress codes, no regulations on travel, no internal departments to check if employees were obeying the rules,  yet the company was extremely financially successful. How was that possible?

One of the main things Semler did was to remove rules and processes that were silly: These are rules that were created years ago, in a specific context, for a specific purpose. The problem is that people ended up following up them, even if it didn’t make any sense anymore. If you look through the rules and procedures in most companies, many of them are in the category of inspiring blind followers. The idea, really, is to simplify and minimize rules and procedures so that only the important rules, that add value to the business, are retained.

We’ve all heard crazy stories of managers withholding the bathroom keys so that employees have to seek “permission” to use the restroom – all in the name of monitoring productivity. While it is an extreme example of mindless rules and control systems, most conventional rules fall within that spectrum and should be challenged.

In fact, the core element of alternative controls is helping leaders be in-control and less controlling. When you trust people and treat them as adults, you’ll discover that you no longer need to control them because they know what they need to do. It also breeds trust, the best productivity tool for companie.


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