Adopting Semco Style | My Expert Journey

Adopting Semco Style | My Expert Journey

In July 2022 I graduated from Semco Style Institute as a Certified Semco Style Expert. 

If you’re wondering what all of this means, and how it matters to my work as a culture coach, I thought I would share the journey with you in case you’re also on the path to making work better. 

To give some background information I have always been an ambassador for self-managing organisations ever since I read Frederic Laloux’s infamous book – Reinventing Organisations

Whenever anyone asks me what has had the biggest influence on my work the simple answer is that book.

After reading Laloux’s book I dived deep into the world of self-managing organisations committing my training and development solely to this specialism. As you will know I also trained in the self-management practice Holacracy in 2020 which you can read about in this blog.

Semco style had always been on my radar, how could it not when Ricardo Semler is the renowned entrepreneur who transformed his father’s company Semco in the 1980s and made self-management internationally known.

There’s a reason Ricardo’s best-selling book is called Maverick. Self-management today often gets labelled as radical, but imagine how radical and even crazy it must have seemed when as a young entrepreneur you’re ripping up the rulebook of traditional management and hierarchy, and creating a company based on democracy. Reshaping everything you’ve ever known about the corporate world.

So when the opportunity appeared that I could not only learn more about Semco in greater depth but learn the techniques and practices to support other companies in adopting this way of working – I jumped at the chance.

You may be wondering….

What is Semco Style?

Semco Style is the name given to Ricardo Semler’s philosophy and approach to creating self-managed organisations.

Everything has been tried and tested by Semco and their sister companies, which means you’re not just learning theories, but practical ways in which bureaucratic hierarchies have been transformed into self-managing organisations.

This isn’t just a wild theory you’re learning of some utopian workplace ideal, but real-life actions and practices that have been experimented with and played with for over four decades.

The Semco Style Methodology includes five pivotal principles, 15 pillars, and more than 100 plus practices that guide you to becoming a self-managed workplace.

As a Semco Style Expert, I had the privilege of learning The Semco Roadmap which pretty much does what it says on the tin – a roadmap to take you through each stage of self-management.

The roadmap is particularly essential as it answers the two most common questions when going self-managed – “Where do I begin?” and “What comes next?”

Why Do I Like Semco Style?

Of course, Semco Style isn’t the only system or tool you can use in order to evolve your company into a self-managed organisation, but there are many reasons why I decided to adopt it as a practice and to become a Certified Semco Expert.

My top reason for choosing Semco Style is that it’s not prescriptive or wed to a particular way of doing things. Semco doesn’t want your company to become another Semco, instead, the approach is an invitation for you to find your own way of doing things.

The practices and roadmap are there as a guide, and as Semco Style says, “it’s about adding your own recipe to the world’s best management cookbook.”

Another reason for Semco Style being such a draw for me is its global community of companies who have adopted this way of working. Often as a coach, I hear business owners or teams declaring that self-management can’t happen because their industry isn’t right for it, or their company is too large. None of these excuses stand in the world of Semco. From banks to healthcare, to manufacturing; Semco Style has been adopted around the world and continues to transform all manner of businesses.

What does Certified Semco Style Expert mean?

As a Certified Semco Style Expert, I can support my clients in adopting the Semco style approach in their own business and coach them to evolve into a self-managing organisation.

However, as I’ve said previously, this doesn’t mean it’s a one-size fits all approach. Semco style is incredibly holistic to each business, which means the way we approach an evolution may differ.

The point of Semco style is to give guidance and tools, not a complete recipe. You can’t just go through the steps and magically be self-managing. It’s truly a mixed approach and takes time.

I’m honoured to add Semco Style to my toolkit of knowledge and expertise and be able to use these practices to support my clients in building their company cultures.

It’s also worth noting, that as a business you may not feel ready to step into becoming completely self-managed, but even those who are simply eager to learn new things and do something different, can explore some of these practices and improve the way we work. One step forward is better than none at all.

What’s Semco Style training like?

Whether you’re a consultant or a people leader in a company you may be curious about becoming a Certified Semco Style Expert yourself. The good news is that Semco Style Institute is now in the UK which means it’s easier than ever to jump into these new ways of working.

The Semco Style Expert programme that I attended is hands down one of the best courses I have ever done for my professional development, and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to be in this world of changemakers.

Across three months I dedicated myself to learning Semco Style along with a cohort of other consultants and businesses who are all dedicated to making work better.

The training is not just learning the theory, but playing with these practices yourself and seeing how you can make it your own.

A particular highlight for me was learning from other participants in my cohort because that’s where we were really sharing our experiences and experiments with each other. That’s where Semco Style came to life.

Where is Semco Style Practised?

Semco style is practised globally by various companies and coaches who all believe there is a better way to work. There are many case studies you can dive into from around the world. 

In Argentina, 10Pines software company has been on a self-management journey since 2016. They were most famously featured on the BBC for their ‘no boss’ approach to work, and the self-management practice of doing self-set salaries. 

In India, CAERE the Indian housekeeping and cleaning company have adopted Semco style across their entire business which operates in 22 cities. This is a great case study, as it removes the myth that certain national cultures can’t adopt self-management. 

As with all Semco Style approaches, people have made it their own. No matter the industry or national culture, the Semco philosophy and roadmap can guide any business into evolving into a more agile, and collaborative workplace. 

What’s next?

If you’re intrigued by Semco Style there are several ways you can join the movement.

You can join a Certified Semco Style Expert programme here in the UK and learn it all for yourself. As a people lead or consultant you can learn the tools and practices, and go on to apply them to your own clients or company. I’m delighted to be a pathfinder at Semco Style Institute UK, so you may see my face pop up during your training.

Alternatively, if you’re eager to adopt this into your business with a Certified Semco Expert you can book a discovery call to learn how I can help your business transform into a self-managing organisation.

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    About The Author

    Lizzie Benton is a people and culture specialist who supports organisations in developing a unique company culture and building engaged teams. Lizzie has been recognised as a millennial changing the world of work, and has been featured in the Metro, HuffingtonPost and has spoken across the UK on employee engagement. When not consulting or running a workshop, Lizzie can be found in rural Lincolnshire enjoying afternoon tea and fresh air.