I’m just reading Ricardo Semler’s fascinating book from 1993 — it’s his story of building and running the large Brazilian conglomerate Semco. The book is “Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace, and only 72 pages into it, I’m really enjoying the story so far — can’t wait to pick it back up and keep reading!
Early in his story he is forced to face up to the brutal reality that his personal life and his business are dramatically out of kilter, and he recognizes some fundamental truths about work and our traditional views of “time management” — I thought they were well worth stopping reading for a few minutes to capture and share them [page 61]:
“I realized that if I was going to find a cure for time sickness, I first had to identify its causes.
Cause 1: The belief that effort and result are directly proportional.
Cause 2: The gospel that the quantity of work is more important than the quality of work.
Cause 3: “Things are a little uncertain at the office right now. I’ll just have to work a little longer until they straighten out.”
Cause 4: Fear of delegation, and its cousin, fear of replaceability.
Even though these ideas were written down almost 20 years ago, I believe they are still the fundamental assumptions that drive the day-to-day attitudes of almost all modern companies. Despite lots of inspiring examples of a “different way to think and work” like that presented by Semco, or the concepts behind of ROWE, the traditional command-and-control practices adopted for management of 19th century industrial-era institutions remains, sadly, the status-quo.
Ricardo closes this section with the following observation, which really stopped me in my tracks —
“For now, let me say that I have recovered so completely that I no longer wear a wristwatch….. It struck me that time should be measured in years and decades, not minutes and hours. It is impossible to understand life in all its hugeness and complexity if one is constantly consulting a minute counter.”
Oh, just spotted the clock. Time’s running out to get on with everything else I need to do before my next scheduled appointment. Gotta go…