Nov 16, 2005

Workplace democracy ?

Terry emailed me that workplace democracy is not possible, because there are some rights you give up when you enter the workplace.

And I ended up talking about Semco again.

Semco claims to have implemented workplace democracy.

a Brazilian company that "has no receptionists, secretaries, standard hierarchies, dress codes, or executive perks...a company that lets you set your work hours and even your salary...where the standard policy is no policy."

Some other points

1. A manager gets interviewed by the team that he would manage.
2. Organizational structures don't exist.

I've often wondered why despite its success, the model was never replicated. Correction: I found an Amazon review where the reviwer claims:

I was assigned to work in Ivory Coast in West Africa. I decided to experiment his model in Africa to see whether his method works. Result. It really works! I delegated all the power to decision making to the staffs who is closest to the environment. Thus, the problem of alignment was easily solved. Not only the organization start working effectively without my hard efforts, but also the motivation of all the staffs skyrocketed. Even some of the staffs who could not read and write, decided to go to school to learn read and write (it is a history in Africa). These staffs also became a proactive staffs by talking on behalf of the language of the organization. The key message of Semler is to freeing everybody from the traditional management by rigid control associated with extrinsic reward system to self control with self ethical value associated with intrinsic reward. In this way he succeeded to skyrocket the motivation of staffs and let them work to search the right direction.

You can find my review of the book here.