books - business

The Seven-Day Weekend

Changing The Way Work Works

by Ricardo Semler

From the jacket: if you feel like work has taken over your life, The Seven-Day Weekend is for you. It’s a manifesto that proves we don’t have to be slaves to the hyper competitive, bottom line obsessed American work ethic that has spawned the seven-day workweek. Semco’s success show that a company which puts employee freedom and happiness ahead of corporate goals can still achieve growth that far exceed the competition’s. Reflecting Ricardo Semler’s passion, wry sense of humour, and hardheaded business acumen, this book challenges all of our assumptions about how a successful business should be run.

My flags…

pg 16 The Why Way … The secret? If we have a cardinal strategy that forms the bedrock for all our practices, it may be this: Ask why. Ask it all the time, ask it any day, every day, and always ask it three times in a row. Employees must be free to question, to analyze, to investigate; and a company must be flexible enough to listen to the answers.

pg 22 We no longer grasp the difference between leisure time and being idle. Western society is highly structured and action-orientated. There’s no true opportunity to sit back, relax, and let the mind wander. That’s too bad. An idle, wandering mind is not the devil’s playground, as the Puritans believed, but a garden of rejuvenation, growth, and contemplation.

People should be encouraged to rearrange their week, drop the traditional notions of a workweek and a weekend, and divide the seven days among company time, personal time, and idleness (free time). Then they should look for more efficient ways to manage their time. Instead of wasting it in rush hour traffic, rearrange your schedule to work when most other people don’t. Run errands on a quiet Monday, particularly if you’ve spent your Sunday answering email.

It’s in your best interest, and your company’s best interest, to understand this. Anyone who can eliminate the stress of an overbooked schedule, arrange a workweek to sleep according to biorhythms rather than a time clock, and enjoy a sunny Monday on the beach after working through a chilly Sunday, will be a much more productive worker.

Human beings thrive on being productive, on working toward goals, on providing for their families, on building a future – just don’t ask them to do it all the time and without the freedom to say, “Now, I need time for me.”

pg 47 … I spent many years dealing with everyday stress by setting my watch five minutes fast. Luckily I’ve come to my senses. I recommended that everyone set back their watches. You may accuse me of being cavalier about making other people wait, but I’m very rarely late any more. Punctuality is a mind-set that’s cultivated by the seven-day weekend. It really has no relation to watches. There are always plenty of clocks around, or people with watches to consult. I stand by my point that stress is the difference between your expectations and reality. You feel stress because of something left undone or a place not reached. With a seven-day weekend you feel there’s time to do what needs to be done and to get to where you need to be.

pg 68 Few are as fulfilled and satisfied with their jobs as Roberval, which explains why companies campaign so relentlessly to motivate employees. Maybe they wouldn’t have to campaign so hard if they made an effort to talk to their employees, find out what they wanted to accomplish, and then gave them the freedom to pursue their ideas. But that rarely happens.

pg 113 Few can avoid pious platitudes when formulating a mission statement. What is left then, if mission and credo are bullshit? Quite a lot, starting with what we stand for, the way we do things, the facts on the ground, the way we are perceived, and the satisfaction and success of those involved. In other words, judge us by what we do, rather than what we say we do. Judge us by standards drawn from a peaceful, civilized, cooperative, and human society of equals, not those of a highly efficient killing machine that is designed to slay enemies, wreck property, and capture territory.

sidebar: I could have flagged nearly every chapter in this book. It had ideas such as employees occupying a seat at the board of directors, being able to sign up to attend various meetings (no matter what position you occupy), offering incentives for employees to move around to different jobs and departments, that it’s a disservice to expect all workers to feel passion for their jobs. A great read!

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