The Semco Style 5 Principles to transform the way we work
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Remove Unnecessary Controls

Take baby steps first

At Semco, you are what you do, not what or whom you control.– Ricardo Semler

In a Nutshell

When we encounter something complex, our natural urge is usually to break it down and simplify things. However, the way we build and govern our large organizations is quite counterintuitive – we add layers of complexity over a structure that is already complex by nature. And, we wind up with labyrinthine bureaucracies that are not just difficult to navigate and manage, but also cumbersome and unproductive.

It’s quite common to see employees in such organizations underperforming because they spend much of their energies working around the bureaucratic red tape, rather than on achieving goals and results. Oftentimes, accountability is left arbitrary and there’s no clarity on why something needs to be approved by multiple people, multiple times, for the same outcome. The troves of information generated through reporting mechanisms reveal nothing; redundant systems and tools slow down processes, and the whole organization suffers from burnout and loss in morale.

So, there’s no doubt that complexity is an important business challenge and that we need to simplify our organizations and the processes that prop them up. In fact, most managers acknowledge the negative effect organizational complexity has on people’s productivity and work satisfaction. Besides, there’s enough data to show that complex control mechanisms tend to drive up costs, reduce profit margins and thwart growth.

But simply agreeing upon it isn’t enough – there needs to be a sustained effort towards simplification. Keeping things simple isn’t easy – it needs strong strategy and vigilance to keep complexity at bay. And, it all begins with first acknowledging the problems and taking baby steps towards resolving them.


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