Why Not Exhilaration?

May 2, 2012 3 Comments

|Photo by Amani Hasan|http://www.flickr.com/photos/amani1306/2357549928|

A blog post on the Management Innovation Exchange site has got me thinking.  In a post entitled, “Forget Empowerment – Aim for Exhilaration,” Polly LaBarre profiles Ricardo Semler of Brazil’s Semco Group.  Semco is noted for its dramatic turnaround as a business, and for its unusual way of managing itself under Semler’s leadership, as noted by LaBarre -“no organizational chart, no fixed offices or working hours, no fixed CEO, no HR department, no five-year plan (or two- or one-year-plan), no job descriptions or permanent positions, no approvals necessary.”  All of this is geared towards increasing individual autonomy and agency, participation at every level, and trust.  The results are reported to be quite astounding with respect to business outcomes as well as employee fulfillment, with a long line of interested prospects at the door.  Semler himself has even freed himself up to pursue interests in the realm of helping to reform primary education and the legal system!  So how can I not help but be curious about some of what I/we might bring into our organizational life and work at IISC?

Here is some of what LaBarre holds up as key principles and strategies of Semco under Semler:

  • Trust in the basic human drive to be productive, to build toward the future, and to contribute to something larger than themselves.
  • Acknowledge that every person’s rhythms is different when it comes to when and where and how they do their best work.
  • Clear people’s paths of the “waste and distraction in all the logistics, the getting around, the sitting in meetings, and the overhead that defines ‘normal’ work.”
  • Cultivate the freedom for people to discover their destiny.
  • Always ask why – why are we doing this and in this way?  If there isn’t a good reason, don’t do it or do it differently!

Just re-reading this now, I am invited to take a slow deep breath.  Why not aim for this kind of exhilaration in our social change efforts?  What would that look like?  What might it lead to?


  • Gibrán says:

    WOW! I’ve heard of this amazing experiment! You better bet that I’m about to learn more. Wondering what it that holds the people together under this company structure?

    And YES it seems like precisely what movement needs! It seems more consonant with what we are learning about the capacity of networks to self-organized around a shared purpose. Unlock the drive and the passion!

  • Linda says:

    Love this Curtis! Thanks!! Reminds me of the ROWE organizations. And of course, I love that last question…

  • Melinda WEEKES says:

    Yep. Powerful to keep asking that “why” question. Love MIE!

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