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Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World's Most Unusual Workplace [Paperback]

Ricardo Semler
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 1 1995
Semler turned his family's business, the aging Semco corporation of Brazil, into the most revolutionary business success story of our time. By eliminating uneeded layers of management and allowing employees unprecedented democracy in the workplace, he created a company that challenged the old ways and blazed a path to success in an uncertain economy.

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Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World's Most Unusual Workplace + Strategic Planning for Human Resources, First Edition
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Product Description

From Library Journal

First published in Brazil in 1988 as Turning the Tables , this book was the all-time best-selling nonfiction book in Brazil's history. Semler, the 34-year-old CEO, or "counselor," of Semco, a Brazilian manufacturing firm, describes how he turned his successful company into a "natural business" in which employees hire and evaluate their bosses, dress however they want, participate in major decisions, and share in 22 percent of the profits. Semler believes that Semco is different from most companies that have participatory management because employees are given the power to make decisions--even ones, with which the CEO wouldn't normally agree. Semler claims, "This is not a business book. It is a book about work, and how it can be changed for the better." Highly recommended.
- Mark McCullough, Heterick Lib. , Ohio Northern Univ. , Ada
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

What makes for a successful company? In a sometimes breathless, often boyish manner, Semler, a counselor of a Brazilian company (Semco), relates the transformation of a traditionally structured business into one quite literally without walls and rules. Semler details his not-so-easy steps in the metamorphosis: abolishing dress codes and regulations; decentralizing plants; getting rid of paperwork and titles (hence, his appellation as counselor, not CEO); and creating a consultative democracy in which employees set their own salaries and work hours and vote on managerial candidates, among other responsibilities. If it sounds too much like utopia, Semler admits that Brazil's economic downturn has impacted Semco and that, yes, being born with a silver spoon certainly colors his vision. Nonetheless, his is a philosophy that merits some serious thought by managers and workers alike. Barbara Jacobs --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Maverick - Ricardo Semler June 26 2004
From 1992 to 1994, I suffered much to work under a rigid framework of Japanese multinationl. It is this book that change my life. End September 1994, I found out Semler's book in a book store in Tokyo, and I am intuitively sure that it should work. Then,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. Thus, the company could encourage the staffs to continously adapt to the perpertually changing environment. It is an excellent fieldbook to transform a mechanistic organization to an organic and learning organization, which is the key of the success in today's business environment.
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By A Customer
This book leads where few 'management" books dare not follow; it is a cold, hard truth that most management is mismanagement, and all too many organizational shortfalls derive from organizational "friction" - "friction," as in "We aren't going to do anything until the Great Leader of our team/section/group/division says so."
Guess what?
The Great Leader doesn't know, either; what the Great Leader DOES know is how to make the employment future of those who show initiative without fawning obesiance nasty, brutish, and short.
Chapter 21, essentially, does away with Middle Management, and the slew of Great Leaders who feather their own nest, in an elegant and simple way.
The rest of the book is also inspiring - certain ideas, such as Open Books, have taken root and flowered as a body of knowledge and practice.
Many "consultants" - using THAT term loosely - help establish "Change Management Programs," and "Empowerment Programs," all delivered from "On High," with paeans of fulsome praise for a trivial tweaking of the current, obsolete, business processes.
Save all of the money and time these people cost - give your people a copy of "Maverick," and let them loose!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Towards better management April 29 2001
This is one of the finest gifts I have ever received in my life, and from one of the finest gentlemen I have known so far!
A wonderful book to read and an insightful journey into the entrepreneurial experience of a man who is not only a good leader but a wonderful human being too - Ricardo Semler. It is really difficult to carry business and personal life on the same track and yet not mix them together. This was exactly what Mr. Semler has done to his business making sure his employees get benefited too.
There are a lot of multinationals working somewhat on the thoughts and ideas of Mr. Semler but no company achieved the status that Semco enjoys. A company where all human values are respected, where workers are not questioned, where there are no set times to enter office, where there are no dress codes, where employees decide there own salaries, where adults are treated like adults and given the respect they deserve - that is what Semco is all about.
There are unions of workers almost in all organizations - and they are in Semco too, but with a difference. The rules set for unions are absolutely humanistic and makes sure that the decisions of Unions are respected too. This we see in action when the union goes on strike. The rules Semco follows are somewhat different from other companies. These are as follows: -
1. Treats everyone as adults 2. Tell the strikers that no one will be punished when they return to work. Then don't punish anyone. 3. Don't keep records of who came to work and who led the walkout. 4. Never call the police or try to break up a picket line. 5. Maintain all benefits. 6. Don't block worker's access to the factory, or the access of union representatives to the workers.
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By A Customer
Maverick has a good claim to must read status for those interested in modern management in that it is probably the best exposition of a democratic workplace in successful practice. As both the story of a company and the autobiography of a unique business leader, it is of interest in various ways.
Semler's account of how he arrived at Semco's democratic organizational culture is a fascinating case of personal growth. Some readers, however, may be less interested in "how I got there" and some of the Brazilian background than in its account what Semco has actually achieved in workplace governance. In this respect, Maverick is a seminal book, because Semco's management style is so unusual. Just reading about it is a liberating experience!
As to practical application, the book has some very readable sections such as the excerpts from the famous Semco operating manual, its glossary (which has "valuably eccentric" ideas), and a test for employees to rate supervisors. These sections give a very good introduction to empowerment and workplace democracy that can be read usefully anybody.
Put Maverick's operating philosophy together with Tom Peter's reinventing work ideas (most particularly in his The Circle of Innovation). Then, add in some Greenleaf servant leadership and combine with some shared vision (a la Chapter 11 of Senge's Fifth Discipline). You then have an excellent recipe for best practice 21st century management. More books like this showing in detail how advanced ideas actually have been successfully implemented in the workplace are very much needed.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Necessary
A required read for any student of business. Even if you feel you can't or decide you won't adopt Semler's approach, the book serves as an interesting and valuable insight into... Read more
Published 5 months ago by kris canadic
5.0 out of 5 stars You want to change your enterprise, READ THIS BOOK!!!
New ways, new thinking, new rules of behavior.

This is really a great source of great ideas to improve your business. Go ahead, buy it, and make the change.
Published 8 months ago by Francisco J Moreno R
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for a changing workplace
This is a great book that I read several years ago and wanted to read again with recent changes at my workplace - fun story with some insightful management strategy.
Published 14 months ago by Smitten8r
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating read of a game changing company, but hard to translate in...
Maverick offers a how-to guide to turn your workplace into a shop that puts the decisions right in the hands of the people that it will effect the most. Read more
Published on Dec 30 2009 by Mathieu Yuill
5.0 out of 5 stars Excelent
Very interesting book. Others from my company also read it and all agree that this book is very good. read it!
Published on March 2 2009 by Paulo Branco
5.0 out of 5 stars more than a business story
Maverick tells the story of how a company on the brink of going bankrupt became a point of reference for the industry. but the attraction is not the result, but the process. Read more
Published on Feb. 10 2009 by Julian Torres
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful humanistic approach to business...
I have only reached half-way through this book but am writing this in case I forget later. I have read a few business books and few have touched me as much as Semler's open and... Read more
Published on May 28 2003 by Hamada Kaido
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Visionary and Great Ideas
If you are familiar with Daniel Quinn's books, mainly Ishmael, The Story of B, and My Ishmael, this is clearly a good example of an organization with a new vision. Read more
Published on May 6 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars In addition to this book
I recommend the new book from Ricardo Semler, just released in Europe, called The Seven-day weekend. ISBN 0712677909 Hardcover, 288 pages. The other title Maverick sold 1. Read more
Published on April 24 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring organization building advice
Semler's comments on how to drive ownership, culture, and integrity apply broadly to any business, and I find them particularly helpful in my work with startups. Read more
Published on July 31 2000 by David Stengle
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