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Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World's Most Unusual Workplace Paperback – April 1, 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Reprint edition (April 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446670553
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446670555
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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

Great and easy to read book.
Damien Colmant
I read this book in 2006 or earlier for the first time and I keep coming back to it over and over again.
Jonathan Dariyanani
Maverick is the story of Semco, an medium size Brazilian company who has set free their employees.
Bas Vodde

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Schonbek on November 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
Shortly after Ricardo Semler took over Semco, his family's moribund manufacturing business, employees began referring to him as Dr. Dickie. In the context of a hardened and confrontational union work environment, this nickname signaled the changes that were about to come.

Maverick tells the story of the transformation of Semco into a radical and high performing organization.

Here's a sampling of Dr. Dickie's good ideas...

* Make each business unit small enough so that those involved understand everything that is going on and can influence the outcomes.

* Implement a rounded pyramid organization structure with floating coordinators. Coordinators are the only supervisory level and are all at the same organizational level but different pay rates.

* Demonstrate trust by eliminating symbols of corporate oppression as well as the perks of status.

* Share all information and eliminate secrets. You can't expect involvement to flourish without an abundance of information available to all employees.

* Every six months bosses are evaluated by their subordinates and the results are posted.

* Salaries are public information unless the employee requests that they not be published.

* Allow employees to set their own salary. Consider these criteria: what they think they can make elsewhere; what others with similar skills and responsibilities make in the Company; what friends with similar backgrounds make; how much they need to live on.

* Share 23% of pretax profits. Employees vote how the pool will be split. They must vote to determine the manner of each quarterly distribution. In practice they always vote for equal dollar shares.

* Substitute the survival manual for thick procedure manuals.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Dadi Ingolfsson on July 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
Semler recounts the evolution of his family's company, Semco, from being a paternalistic, strictly hierarchical one, when he takes over the reins from his father, to a company like no other.

The book reads like an autobiography, and it is, but only with the focus on the transformation of Semco and how Semler and his colleagues evolved through it. The reader is escorted through the many gestation periods of Semler's organizational theories. It's an amazing trip that you can hardly believe took place.

Instead of paraphrasing Semler here I want to use a pretty long quote from one of the last pages of the book. There Semler has such a succinct description of his core theories and the way he put them into practice that I feel his words summarize the plot of this book far better than I ever could:

"To survive in modern times, a company must have an organizational structure that accepts change as its basic premise, lets tribal customs thrive, and fosters a power that is derived from respect, not rules. In other words, the successful companies will be the ones that put quality of life first. Do this and the rest - quality of product, productivity of workers, profits for all - will follow. At Semco we did away with strictures that dictate the "hows" and created fertile soil for differences. We gave people an opportunity to test, question, and disagree. We let them determine their own futures. We let them come and go as they wanted, work at home if they wished, set their own salaries, choose their own bosses. We let them change their minds and ours, prove us wrong when we are wrong, make us humbler. Such a system relishes change, which is the only antidote to the corporate brainwashing that has consigned giant businesses with brilliant pasts to uncertain futures."

I truly enjoyed every page of this book and I highly recommend it.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Graham Lawes on June 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
Maverick, written by Ricardo Semler, is one of the most powerful and inspiring books I've ever read. It takes the idea of participative management to new levels and demonstrates, through the evolution of his company, Semco, that a completely new way of working is possible, a way in which workers decide when and where they work, who gets hired, and how much they get paid. And it gives a vivid account of Semco's story so that we see the way of life and hear the voices of the people who created it.

Clearly, the ideas in the book didn't come out of a vacuum. Semler read and studied widely, building on the ideas of people like Robert Townsend and Peter Drucker. But he has elaborated and improvised on those ideas to create an entirely unique, collaborative work culture at Semco in São Paulo, Brazil, that he has then sustained over a period of 25 years. Astonishing!

Semler inspired me to look at some of his sources like Robert Townsend's 1970 book, "Up the Organization," a similarly contrarian and original creation. Semler shares a kindred spirit with Townsend and his book is just as entertaining, and as concise and full of important ideas about governance and leadership. Townsend calls his style of management "Participative Management" and puts into practice many of the principles from Douglas McGregor's Theory Y (as proposed in his 1960 book, Human Side of Management). But whereas Townsend simply orders his ideas alphabetically, Semler's book is organized chronologically. Each of its thirty six chapters tells a story from the history of Semco, and each contains at least one important lesson.
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