Free Essay On Ricardo Semler: A Refined Practitioner Of Gst?
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Even as some people find the management approach of Ricardo ‘Maverick’ Semler as chaotic, the success of his company Semco makes it a subject that deserves deep exploration. This essay thus critically evaluates Semler’s approach from the perspectives of modernism and post modernism, before coming into its own conclusion.
Semler’s management approach at a glance highlights a liberal outlook that is ready to go even beyond what is proverbially known as the ‘interests of an organisation’. For example, the practices such as accepting the worker’s right to go on strike and to take legal action against the company if they feel that would be appropriate (Hudson, 14), etc. are usually considered as negative forces within organisational context, especially within the modernist frameworks suggested by Taylor or Fayol . On the other hand, his practices such as trusting people to make decisions and providing them space to do the same defies the general norm of employee empowerment as propagated by the postmodernist frameworks of management that speaks of empowerment of the employees and nurturing the intellectual capital of them, but all within a sphere of top-down management control. However, this study finds that the 16 drivers behind his management approach are in fact a compilation of various elements from both modern and postmodern management approaches.
The 16 Drivers of Semler’s Management Approach
[Adapted from Hudson (15)]
A brief comparison between Fayol’s 14 principles with Semler’s declared policies clearly consolidates the above view, where one can find Semler improvising some of the modernistic management approaches.
[Adapted from Hudson (15)]
Similarities apart, the instances of ‘redefining’ the functions of management appears higher in number and thus establishes a clear leaning towards postmodernism, although it has already been seen that some of the ‘radical features in Semler’s approach are generally not endorsed by postmodernists.
Considering the unique features of Semco’s approach, such as accepting strike, letting independent workers supplying manufactured parts to Semco’s opponents, etc. strongly reminds Bartalanffy's (Drack and Apfalter 4) General Systems Theory (GST), which does not prescribe or chart the growth of any organism, and instead it only suggests that every part combines to make the whole and in the entire process there remains a natural distribution of resource or focus to all the parts. For example, Semco’s satellite programme encourages the workers to use Semco machinery to set up independent supply line, where they are at liberty to sell parts even to Semco’s competitors! This practice, on the other hand, naturally meets Semco’s own resource needs (Hudson, 14). In this way Semco lets the natural law of growth taking place instead of applying specific management theories. This approach thus makes many of the theories look as fractured part of the whole – however ironic may it be, yet there lies the beauty of Ricardo ‘Maverick’ Semler’s approach to management.
Although Semler has taken a few leaf from modernism and redefined many of them to the tune of postmodernism, this study assumes that there is a subtle yet identifiable similarity between GST and Semler’s approach, especially in the issues such as freedom and natural growth, which are interrelated it is this foundation bolsters Semler to say, “It’s up to them to see the connection between productivity and profit and to act on it” (10). Such state of affairs thus prompts this study to infer that Ricardo Semler is a refined practitioner of GST.
Drack, Manfred, and Wilfred Apfalter. "Is Paul Weiss' and Ludwig Von Bertalanffy's System Thinking Still Valid Today?" Proceedings of the 50th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems (2006): 1-10. Print.
Hudson, John R. Theories of Management. 2010. <johnrhudson.me.uk/management/Theories_of_Management.pdf>.
Jackson, Norman, and Pippa Carter. "Postmodern Management: Past-Perfect or Future- Imperfect?" Int. Studies of Mgt. & Org. 22.3 (1992): 11-26. Print.
Semler, Ricardo. "Managing without Managers." Harvard Business Review (1989): 1-10 pp. <http://www.schneede.se/assets/files/Ricardo_Semler.pdf>.