Sunday, May 15, 2011

Maverick, Ricardo Semler.

The book “Maverick” by Ricardo Semler is a narrative about a company identifying the need for a transformational change then telling the story of how that change was brought about.

The example however falls short of being a paradigm on a number of fronts.

Ricardo Semler had the right idea and the right goal but went about it the wrong way.

The book is an eight year litany of confrontation, bloody noses and sackings as Ricardo tried to force his employees to change.

He did not have the best people at the start, he had normal people.
His workforce were exactly the same as any other workforce on the planet, they were average people, but they were all individuals.

He inherited the company from his father; who was a traditional authoritarian boss. He demanded that it was done his way or the highway, and had no idea how destructive his uncompromising Command and Control style of management was.

His workforce was average and produced an average performance.

Ricardo's vision was that each employee was potentially exceptional but that it was the working environment they were kept in that prevented them from being exceptional.

Ricardo's' vision was to create the working environment that would allow his employees to be as good as they could be.

This involved getting the managers out of the way to stop them interfering with the ability of the workforce to perform and to give control of their lives back to the workforce.

The company in those eight years grew over ten times but the cost was the replacement of almost every single member of the management team.

The reason for this was that although the change was the right change, it was being driven by Ricardo, from the top down.

This made the workers and the middle management resist what was happening because they were being told what they had to do.

When you tell a human being what to do, whatever it is, the act of telling automatically generates resistance to whatever it was they were told to do.

It is not “What” they were being told that caused the resistance it was just “Being Told.”

At the end of eight years the employees were the same individuals but the environment that had been created for them to work in had allowed them to engage. That in turn allowed them to be exceptional and to produce exceptional performance.

Today we recognise the problem of top down driven change that Ricardo could not avoid.

It lost Ricardo his whole management team and eight years of superhuman effort to drive through his changes.

Today we can see how, by allowing change to come from the bottom up, we not only get the right change but we also avoid the resistance that the “Top Down” driven solution creates.

Ricardo Semler did his best with what he had.

Now we know better.

No matter how right the change being proposed, if it is driven from the top down it will create the resistance that will cause it to fail.

Peter A Hunter


R.M. said...

I LOVED this book - it reads like a novel but it is far from it! He's the kind of guy that worker-bees love and management hates! He's a hero.

foodforthought said...

this book seems like it would provide some interesting perspectives. I will be doing book reviews on my blog as well. Thanks for sharing.


William ii said...

fantastic blog, every body should read more.

robert d said...

Big clue - white text on black is usually hard for many people to read.

They currently have a TV show, I think it is called Hidden Boss. The CEO of a company actually does day to day work beside workers and discovers that despite the obstacles of management, they, every day, are doing a wonderful job. The CEO, only after actually doing the day to day job, understands the obstacles that are sometimes being placed on workers by distant management.

In each case the CEO is dumb founded.

Management should be required to do the job others are asked to do. Only then will they grook what it is all about.

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Kate said...

I haven't read 'Maverick' yet - so thank you for this excellent summary - it sounds and exhausting and brave approach to bulldozing change through a company. I first read Semler's 7 Day Weekend on holiday 2 years ago and have been trying to implement his ideas ever since... without much success! We're actually giving away some free copies of the 7 Day Weekend (our editor's favorite book) to new registrants on (a free global business school networking site)- please sign-up if you're interested!

myrtle said...

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