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A Book Review in Business Communication

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A Book Review in Business Communication


By Ricardo Semler



Mr. Mukul Pawar


Alpha – 11



Ricardo Semler is the president of Semco, and the author of Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World's Most Unusual Workplace. Fresh from law school, where he had been a restless underachiever, Semler took over his father's business, which manufactured pumps and propellers and other marine products.

Straightaway, Ricardo Semler spearheaded an ambitious plan to diversify his dad's ship-parts company, which, like the Brazilian economy in the mid-eighties, was sinking. In the initial phases of joining the company, he worked from 7:30 a.m. till midnight every day and traveled overseas to raise capital and find new partners and companies to buy.

However it took a toll on his health. In the months that followed, Semler was determined to balance his work and personal life more carefully and to do the same for his employees — all while improving Semco's fortunes.

Semco hit some bumps and despite a recession and staggering inflation in Brazil, the company grew, and by 1993, Semler had a spirited turnaround story to tell. His first book, Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World's Most Unusual Workplace, became an international bestseller and laid out his unorthodox, but strikingly commonsense approaches — no dress code, voluntary meetings, mandatory vacation time.

His latest book, The Seven-Day Weekend: Changing the Way Work Works (published April 2004), delves into the organizational, human, and cultural consequences of transitioning to the 50 new economies. Technology that was supposed to make life easier — laptops, cell phones, e-mail, pagers — has stolen our free time instead and destroyed the traditional nine-to-five workday. For bold innovators though, Ricardo proposes a way to run a workplace that leads to greater productivity and greater flexibility for managers and employees alike.


• Named Brazil's "Business Leader of the Year" in both 1992 and 1990

• Named "Latin American Businessman of the Year" by America Economia (The Wall Street Journal's Spanish language magazine), 1990

• Harvard Business School alumnus

• Vice President, Federation of Industries of Brazil

• Board member, SOS Atlantic Forest, Brazil's foremost environmental defense organization

• Semco was selected by CIO magazine as the only Latin American company among the most successfully reengineered companies in the world, and the

• BBC included the company in its "Reengineering the Business" series.

Semco's revenues have jumped from $35 million to $212 million in the last six years, and the firm grew from several hundred employees to 3,000 — with employee turnover of about 1 percent. The privately held firm has eight businesses, having expanded into outsourcing management (for four of Brazil's five biggest banks), to environmental site remediation and engineering risk management.


Maverick is the story of how Ricardo Semler led his family business, Semco through a change in the management style from an autocratic style to a participative one. Semco is a manufacturing company in Sao Paulo, Brazil dealing in marine products, water-oil separators for ship motors, cooling units for air conditioners and mixers. Semco has many factories.

Semler changed his company for a personal reason. He was suffering from physical and emotional exhaustion from trying to run the entire company himself. His doctors told him if he didn't change his lifestyle, he was headed for an early finish.

This prompted him to delegate work and reduce the bureaucracy and the time required in decision-making and subsequent implementation. He also did away with the unnecessary

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