Book: Maverick!, Ricardo Semler


If you’re not an entrepreneur for the ego-trip of being “the boss”, then this is one of the best books you can read. It emphasizes empowering your team, giving them more information, responsibility, power to make decisions, profit sharing, … In Semco’s case, the results speak for themselves. The Brazilian conglomerate has been one of the best to work for in the country for decades and it has survived through turbulent times in 90’s Brazil. The author credits a lot of the success to the methods described in the book.

At our company, we already had a lot of these elements, however the book gives a good guide on how to go even further.

Absolute must-read.


Workers are responsible adults outside the job, regard them as such on the job. Empower workers, give them autonomy to do the job. Open books, full information – everyone should know where the company stands. Flexible work hours. Minimize documents. Managers vote on each others proposals. Manager evaluations by subordinates.

A company should trust its destiny to its employees.


  • Don’t stockpile talent.
  • Employ “cathedral builders”, not stone cutters.
  • Effort =! results.
  • Work quality > quantity.
  • Minimize documents, five year plans, 6-month reports.
  • Executives make educated guesses for revenue/expenses/profits at the end of each month. Compared to real numbers, it shows how much they know about their department.
  • Democracy is a lot of work.
  • Factory committees, everyone involved in operations but management. No appointed leader, diversity of employees.
  • Weekly management meetings to vote on proposals by each.
  • Less rules and regulations, more common sense.
  • Dividing too large factories into smaller ones.
  • Do not user precise job descriptions.
  • Share information before you share profits.
  • No need to list salaries, but keep the information available.
  • Quarterly profit-sharing payments, workers decide how to split it.
  • Profit sharing after taxes.
  • Reports: headline, few paragraphs of information, never more than one page.
  • Job rotation for managers.
  • Sabbaticals aka “hepatitis leave” few weeks a year to regroup.
  • Business, not “we’re a family”. Don’t butt in people’s business (emergencies excluded).
  • Honest public/company communication.
  • Yearly questionnaire about the state of the company, comments from workers, etc.
  • Manager and worker interviews – future coworkers or subordinates interview candidates and decide. Twice annual evaluation of managers.
  • Instead of hierarchal pyramid use “circle with triangles”. Inner circles are VPs, then leaders of units and then everyone else. Payment does not increase with title.
  • (Managers) set own salaries, end bonuses based on own evaluation on how well they accomplished goals. Give basis: decisions, role, age, time with company, how much they’d be paid elsewhere (salary surveys). Some negotiation between employee and manager.
  • Top salaries max 10x entry pay.
  • Yearly adjustment to salaries.
  • Risk salaries – company does well, get 125% of salary, if it does poorly, get 75%.
  • “Thinking” units – finds and improves or develops products, taken out of day-to-day operations.
  • Flexible working hours.
  • Allow tribes in the company.