A Journey Towards Self-Organization
with the Semco Style Expert Certification Program
An interview with Nina Pozderec
The Semco Style Expert Certification Program is especially beneficial to to-be pioneers. It equips them with all the relevant Semco Style content, while also immersing them into our philosophy. The program enables them to work on Semco Style-related assignments and pivot organizational structures, while also allowing them to explore the potential to establish a Country Partnership in the future.
Nina Pozderec, based in Slovenia, is the latest guest in our testimonial interview series. After having completed the Expert Certification program in December 2021, she began focusing on self-management as the way forward for her business, ‘Switch to Eleven’. For this interview, we asked Nina to reflect on her journey and elaborate on how her learnings translated into her business.
When did you first hear about Semco Style?
“It started with Ricardo Semler’s renowned books, which I personally gravitated towards. Business-wise, however, I did not feel the ideas proposed by Semco Style were possible within my current work atmosphere. I was in an environment that didn’t have a lot of room for autonomous decision-making and so on. Eventually, I began questioning this way of working and it got me interested in self-management. From there on, Semco Style came into the picture quite rapidly.”
What reasons made you decide to become a Semco Style Expert?
Besides the high-level theory of how self-managed organizations should or could work, Nina was looking for practices that have actually made a difference. Many of the new ways of working that have gained popularity are still in their infancy. Abstract ideas and concepts still dominate their spheres. And, she wanted to start exploring and moving away from the ‘rainbows-and-unicorns’ kind of thinking.
“With the stories and practices within the Semco Style, I found inspiration that was focused on the practicality of self-management. More importantly, the emphasis on finding your own style within self-management resonated with me as I realized there was not a one-size-fits-all approach to self-managed organizations,” says Nina.
Were there any eye-opening moments during the Expert Program?
“The start of the program was rather philosophical, which I did not expect. For instance, linking trust to democracy and creating interconnectedness between other principles was insightful and yet, at times, could create an information overload. However, when we approached the Semco Style Roadmap part of the program, it all came together,” recalls Nina. She says she learned that skipping the fundamental parts and going straight to the practical ways of self-management would have jeopardized the creation of fertile ground within herself and the cohort.
“I also learned a lot about myself in this process. As an action-oriented person, I typically want to dive right into things. In the program, however, I understood the importance of listening first, building a strong foundation, and then acting upon it,” she says.
Diving straight into action might, in the end, work for some but for others in a team, it could feel like a bomb was just dropped near them. That is the first lesson in understanding a shared responsibility, according to Nina. Being transparent about the process, embracing differences and adapting to these, are all part of building sustainable change.
Can you share some of the first steps you took in your organization after completing the Expert Program?
“In our recently launched company, Switch to Eleven, we started with the basics. That means, we created a habit of treating adults as adults in our client conversations,” explains Nina. For example, they were clear in communicating to their clients that they don’t take responsibility for changing the organization. “Instead, we introduced ourselves as being there to reshape the client’s organization along with them, not for them,” says Nina.
Even their business model prioritizes being as transparent as possible. In the conversation regarding their business proposals, they ask clients for their genuine feedback about things like pricing, for instance. “In doing so, we emphasize the strength of collaborating, instead of competing,” she explains.
What were the challenges you faced in making the transition from your engagement in the ECP to the real world/your organization?
“The transition was actually not that hard,” says Nina, who quickly saw that building her organization according to the tenets of the program would mean taking small, incremental steps, instead of a giant leap.
“The difficulty, however, with clients is that they are quite biased towards action and want to get going right away with a bang. Reorganizing their whole organization, right at the beginning, is often on their minds. But, that does not recognize all that they have built over time. In such cases, our focus will be on transition management and aligning people on the consequences of the transition: Who will be affected, what roles will change, what is the purpose, etc.”
After completing this course, what advice would you give yourself?
“Listen and ask a lot of questions. I would advise myself, and others, to be open to diverse beliefs and opinions, and in doing so, question our own knowledge and beliefs. Oftentimes we try to believe our own construct and project that onto others. Being more skeptical about what you know will help you gain more knowledge over time. By having faith in people, trusting them, iterating and experimenting, we can challenge and manage our emotions better. Addressing and sharing these emotions, I think, is more important than choosing a certain technique.”
What is the next goal for your organization on the road to becoming self-managed/self-directed?
“Our next goal is to go beyond the development of myself, and my business partner, when it comes to self-management, especially when we will be onboarding a new member in the near future. As I said earlier, we need to align on the consequences and be prepared to adapt to the new team composition.”
“Next, we are eager to analyze the outcomes of our clients’ evolution: How are they changing while implementing self-management practices?”
But Nina’s ultimate goal is to contribute as much as possible towards making self-management the principal way of working in the near future. “My aim is to see my 5-year-old daughter working in a world where self-management is the standard, not the exception,” she says.
What a great interview – thanks to Nina Pozderec for sharing such inspirational experiences, learnings, and insights about their personal journey during the Expert Certification Program. We are happy for them to be part of our global community of certified experts! We wish them all the best with their transformation projects! Would you like to become a certified Semco Style Expert yourself?