Aug 17, 2005

Semler on Innovation

One example of an organization that has constantly surprised me (ever since I read Maverick) is Semco, the Brazilian company that lets it's employees set their own hours, wages, even choose their own IT. The result: increased productivity, long-term loyalty and phenomenal growth.

Speaking to CIO Ricardo Semler talks about innovation. Some nuggets:

I think what we've done is being emulated because of the amount of dissatisfaction that is rampant among workers, but also among stakeholders. Basically, most career opportunities are fraudulent. The idea that I will hire you, I will train you, I will want to know where you want to be in five years, and then I will give you that better job is totally out of the question. And the other things [besides offering job security] corporations are supposed to do well like innovation, or customer service, they don't do those well, either.

The first anxiety executives have about workers setting their own hours is that people are going to suggest that they come in as late as possible, leave as early as possible, make as much as possible—end of story. And in 25 years we've never heard that. I don't think [that sort of behavior] comes to people as naturally as the anxiety about it comes to the [manager] who's thinking about it. [At Semco,] we always assume that we're dealing with responsible adults, which we are. And when you start treating employees like adolescents by saying that you can't come late, you can't use this bathroom—that's when you start to bring out the adolescent in people.