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"Must Reading" on the Democratic Workplace Environment, 28. Juni 2000
Maverick has a good claim to must read status for those interested in modern management in that it is probably the best exposition of a democratic workplace in successful practice. As both the story of a company and the autobiography of a unique business leader, it is of interest in various ways.
Semler's account of how he arrived at Semco's democratic organizational culture is a fascinating case of personal growth. Some readers, however, may be less interested in "how I got there" and some of the Brazilian background than in its account what Semco has actually achieved in workplace governance. In this respect, Maverick is a seminal book, because Semco's management style is so unusual. Just reading about it is a liberating experience!
As to practical application, the book has some very readable sections such as the excerpts from the famous Semco operating manual, its glossary (which has "valuably eccentric" ideas), and a test for employees to rate supervisors. These sections give a very good introduction to empowerment and workplace democracy that can be read usefully anybody.
Put Maverick's operating philosophy together with Tom Peter's reinventing work ideas (most particularly in his The Circle of Innovation). Then, add in some Greenleaf servant leadership and combine with some shared vision (a la Chapter 11 of Senge's Fifth Discipline). You then have an excellent recipe for best practice 21st century management. More books like this showing in detail how advanced ideas actually have been successfully implemented in the workplace are very much needed.