Last night I opened a book and 5 hours and 247 pages later, the book had broadened my thinking. That book was titled – “The Seven Day Weekend”, authored by Mr. Ricardo Semler.
The best part of reading a good book is that the horizons of the reader’s mind get broadened and he becomes wiser than he was before opening the book. What I realised post this mini-readathon was – 1) I was ready for the scheduled book review session. 2) I got something to read which was insightful not just in terms of business perspective, but also helped me to focus on what I actually want from my professional life and 3) the approach I have had with me actually does exist in the business world and firms do exist and make good profit by implementing the same approach.
The primary reason as to why this piece of work is admirable and inspirational is that the author talks of having chosen employee happiness and satisfaction as the driving force of his business, unlike the more bottom-line obsessed business workplaces.
The author shares his experience of working at Semco (the company headquartered at Sao Paulo, Brazil), where he wants not just him (the CEO), but also his employees, customers, suppliers and community to be happy. The real motivation or the driving force behind a successful company is not growth, not profits, not power, not status, but Happiness.
Along the way, he asked himself, “If the workweek is going to slop over into the weekend, then why can’t the weekend, with its precious restorative moments of playtime, my time, and our time, spill over into the workweek?” The author then provides a roadmap to achieve personal and professional success.
The stressful and many a times overloaded workweek robs us of our passion and pleasure, it destroys family and community stability, and sets up businesses to fail once they have burned out their employees and burned through ever more manipulative and oppressive strategies.
The book describes how managers can turn the repetition, boredom and aggravation of the usual workweek into an environment that is filled with joy, inspiration and freedom.
I do believe that the old way of doing business is sprinting towards its deathbed, and the time has come to re-invent and re-engineer the way of doing business which could be more or less like the Semco’s way, aimed at fulfilling the central purpose of business. Thus, a satisfactory and rewarding life can be made possible for the entire workforce for their hard work. In order to achieve that, it is important to treat co-workers like intelligent mature adults by allowing them to manage themselves. This, as a business model, has worked like a charm for Semco and could possibly be put to use at any organization, anywhere in the so business world that wants to move beyond traditional thinking to a more democratic realm.
While highlighting how flexibility in work time and self-management by employees can work wonders to improve a company’s bottom line, it also narrates how self-organized employee groups can harness extra potential to bring about change in productivity just by eliminating time lags. The book supports encouraging employees to rely on their own intuition and use it in the workplace with a combination of reasoning and experience to reach a decision.
The book is full of stories from Semco’s everyday existence and is a joy to read. Time and again these stories illustrate that one must not opt for the easy way out.
On one hand, it is a thought-provoking guidebook that reveals how freedom and happiness can lead a business to success. On the other, it is an easy, fun to read book as it shares the day to day experiences at the workplace. Also, it is 100% free of MBA-jargons.
Author : Kinshuk Chaturvedi
PGPM Class of 2017, Great Lakes