How it all started
The Semco Style framework has its origins in the 80s, when a 21-year-old Ricardo Semler took over the Semco Group, a mixer and agitator manufacturer in Brazil, from his father. On his first day, he fired 60 percent of all top managers and he continued to democratize the company, turning the old corporate hierarchy on its head. He did that by delegating as much decision-making power to the workforce as possible and, over the next two decades, he grew the company from 90 to 5000 employees. More impressively, he raised the company’s annual revenue from $4 million to $212 million, with the company growing at an average rate of 47 percent. Semco also achieved a phenomenally low employee turnover rate of just 2 percent under Ricardo Semler’s leadership.
Unlike other management styles, the Semco Style wasn’t built from theory to practice. Instead, it’s the other way around, going from practice to theory. It’s not a static methodology, but a live framework that gets updated with new practices and practical examples from companies all over the world, working with similar principles.
Today, it contains rich examples from the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, Belgium, South Africa, Brazil, USA, Australia, Japan, China, Switzerland and India and the plan is to keep growing and collecting more intercultural examples of people-centric practices.
As with any management style, the current context of your company plays a huge role in deciding how you adopt the Semco Style framework. The key to bringing out lasting change in your management isn’t replicating an existing approach. Instead you need to customize these best practices to derive solutions that fit your organization’s singular needs. In other words, you need to build your own style.