Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Ricardo Semler: Radical wisdom for a company, a school, a life

Most businesses are based on the efficient performance model, going back to Weber (1949) and the Gilbreths (1916). This is a heirarchical, somewhat rigid and rational structure, with many routine tasks, formal communication, and often internally competitive strategies (Daft, 2008).

However, this is not the only game in town, if you take a leaf out of Ricardo Semler's book. Brazillian company, Semco, adopts a learning organisation model, which is far more fluid, intuitive, informal, flexible, and empowering. People who work at Semco are given a clear philosophical framework to make decisions within, and so are able to be innovative, creative and independent (Bock, 2003; Daft, 2008).

The internal competitive nature of companies is not apparent in learning organisations: instead it thrives on internal and external team collaboration. Organisational culture breeds adaptability, experimentation and internal entrepreneurship (Daft, 2008).

But what happens when an organisation like this turns its attention to the development of their talent pipeline? Watch the clip, and find out.


  • Bock, W. (2003). Lessons from Semco on Structure, Growth and Change. USA: Monday Memo. Retrieved 21 August 2007 from
  • Daft, Richard L. (2008). The Leadership Experience (Fourth Edition). USA: Thomson-South Western.
  • Gilbreth, Frank W. & Gilbreth, Lillian Moller (1916). Fatigue Study: The Elimination of Humanity's Greatest Unnecessary Waste. USA: Sturgis & Walton
  • Weber, Max (1949). The Methodology of the Social Sciences (Translated & edited by Edward A. Shils and Henry A. Finch). USA: The Free Press.
  • Semler, Ricardo (2015). TEDx Rio de Janeiro: Radical wisdom for a company, a school, a life. Retrieved 11 November 2015 from;

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