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*A Book Review*


By Ricardo Semler

by Michael C. Gray

March 30, 1998

Maverick is the story of how Ricardo Semler led his family business, Semco, through the change from an autocratic/authoritarian structure to a participative structure.

Semco is a Brazilian manufacturing business. Their products include: pumps to empty oil tankers, high volume dishwashers, cooling units for air conditioners, and mixers, among other products. It isn't a small company. Semco has many factories.

Semler changed his company for a selfish reason. He was suffering from physical and emotional exhaustion from trying to run the entire show himself. His doctors told him if he didn't make a change, he was headed for an early grave.

Now, executives from some of the biggest and best-known companies in the world, including IBM, General Motors, Ford, Kodak, Bayer, Nestle, Goodyear, Firestone, Pirelli, and Alcoa, have been studying Semco's revolutionary way of doing business.

Semler has assembled an outstanding management team. But, more importantly, the workers run the company.

Here are some of the results of this transformation:

  • The workers have a labor union that works in cooperation with the management of the company.
  • The corporate staff has been reduced by more than 75 percent.
  • The corporation has reduced its layers of management from twelve to three.
  • Workers evaluate, hire and fire their fellow workers.
  • Workers evaluate the performance of their bosses. (Bosses with poor evaluations are fired!)
  • Workers set their own production quotas.
  • Workers set their own wages.
  • Workers decide how to divide the profit-sharing bonus money.
  • Workers have unlimited access to the corporate records, and are taught to read financial reports.
  • All of the workers vote on major decisions, such as buying another company or moving a factory.
  • Workers are responsible for their own quality control, eliminating the quality control department.
  • There are no receptionists, secretaries, or personal assistants.

In the process of making this change, Semco has grown six-fold, despite recessions, high inflation, and chaotic national economic policy. Productivity has increased sevenfold. Profits have risen fivefold.

In a period of fourteen months, not one worker has left the company.

In a survey of recent college graduates conducted by a leading Brazilian magazine, 25% of the men and 13% of the women said they wanted to work at Semco.

Ricardo Semler works mostly at home, and takes at least two month off each year for world pleasure travel.

Would you like to build a business that works so you can choose not to? If you would, maybe you can find something of value in this book. Ricardo Semler tells us how he did it.

Buy it on Amazon: Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World's Most Unusual Workplace.

For our new reviews of business and self-improvement books, subscribe to our newsletter, Michael Gray, CPA's Tax & Business Insight!

Every executive and entrepreneur should read Maverick, by Ricardo Semler. Click here to find out why!

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