Since this humble weblog is on a Monday – Wednesday – Friday schedule, I thought I’d start providing a short review once a month of business-related books I have found interesting.
One book that fits this description was beach reading last summer: The Seven Day Weekend, by Ricardo Semler.
An excerpt courtesy of Inc. magazine is here. Mr. Semler describes his unique company, Semco:
Semco has no official structure. It has no organizational chart. There’s no business plan or company strategy, no two-year or five-year plan, no goal or mission statement, no long-term budget. The company often does not have a fixed CEO. There are no vice presidents or chief officers for information technology or operations. There are no standards or practices. There’s no human resources department. There are no career plans, no job descriptions or employee contracts. No one approves reports or expense accounts. Supervision or monitoring of workers is rare indeed.
(And probably no GC –ed.).
Mr. Semler also praises the concept of down time which seems to be sacrilege in an era of the always-connected knowledge worker:
Freedom is an empty word without “free time.” I don’t mean chore time, errand time, homework time. Free time must be unencumbered by a to-do list. It is epitomized by idleness, otherwise time is not free if it belongs to something or someone else. Robbed of idleness, free time is stripped of its restorative powers.
Work is so intense these days, so all-consuming that it is the arch enemy of free time. It looms like a dark castle on the distant horizon, symbolizing oppression. My workshop question taps an instinctive awareness of that fact and generates an almost romantic longing for free time and a preference to be somewhere else even if it means also forfeiting idleness in the form of a weekend off that is actually a weekend on steroids.
Something tells me Mr. Semler has never wrestled with timesheets or billable hour quotas.
This book provokes thought about work and work life. Many of the ideas about restructuring both can be dismissed as impratical. But if an idea is interesting in the Midwest and in Bangalore, perhaps it’s worth a second look.
Ricardo Semler asks tough questions about central business concepts like management control. He has had the courage to implement change that initially appears risky, but ends up improving the bottom line over the long run.
And since this book runs about 250 pages in a smaller format, it won’t weigh down your beach bag too much as you make your way to that perfect spot.