A Journey Towards Self-Organization
with the Semco Style Expert Certification Program
An interview with Barry McNeill and Mark Green
To-be pioneers have the most to gain from a program like the Semco Style Expert Certification Program. It equips them with all the relevant Semco Style content, while also immersing them in our philosophy. It not only enables them to work on Semco Style-related assignments and pivot organizational structures, but also allows them to explore the potential to establish a Country Partnership in the future.
Barry McNeill and Mark Green, based in the United Kingdom, are the latest to share their testimonials from the Expert Certification Program. Their passion, playfulness, and ambition to create brilliant workplaces drove these business partners to establish Semco Style Institute – UK in May 2022, after having completed the Semco Style Expert Certification Program earlier this year.
We asked these certified Semco Style Experts to reflect on their journeys and elaborate on how they went about implementing their learnings into their Country Partnership.
When did you first hear about Semco Style?
“Ricardo Semler was on my radar going back almost fifteen years. I first heard about him through his book Maverick. I got more involved in learning about the Brazilian Semco and its offspring Semco Style Institute seven years ago,” says Barry.
He adds, “Around the same time, I started my own journey of exploring different ways of working that are being followed around the world.” His research led him to the Teal methodology, which was how he eventually stumbled on Semco Style.
Mark’s journey was quite similar to Barry’s. He also learnt about Semco Style via Maverick, which got him curious and motivated to dig deeper. His research was how he was introduced to Barry, the Teal methodology, and ultimately, it all circled back to Semco Style.
Their goal was the same — to move away from conventional frameworks and structures of work. The pair had a strong urge to explore how they could support their clients across a wide range of industries to take bold action and design highly progressive work environments.
What led you to decide to become Semco Style Experts?
The business partners had reached a consensus that they would need the right tools in place in order for the effective implementation of progressive, holistic, and new approaches to organizing work. Otherwise, some of the theories out there would remain too academic.
Mark elaborates, “While I understood the theories well cognitively and believed in the value of these theories, some of the new approaches still fell short in their practicality.”
‘What can we do tomorrow or next week?’, ‘What steps can you take?’ — these were some of the questions that needed to be answered. And these lie at the core of the Semco Style Roadmap.
When one hears ‘roadmap’, the first thought that comes to mind is structure. However, despite that, Barry says, “The emphasis on its non-prescriptive nature, and therefore, the opportunity to add a personal swing to it, made it all that more favorable.”
The Semco Style Expert Program allowed them to dive into the core dynamics of the Semco Style Framework and Roadmap and tackled the above questions in each of the ten sessions that the program focuses on the Roadmap.
Role-playing, scenarios, guest speakers and personal experiences are the focus of this section of the program, allowing participants to understand the practical steps to be taken in each phase.
Did you have any eye-opening experiences during (the first parts of) the expert program?
“The first thing you notice when starting the program is the truly international character of the group. The diversity of the group, especially in the later parts of the program, is really insightful when designing solutions for certain specific and unique challenges,” says Mark.
This international group of participants mirrors future compositions of teams, wherein you can have a project lead from South Africa and supporting teams from Slovenia and Costa Rica, or anywhere else in the world. It creates a learning environment that transcends boundaries and cultures.
“The first session of the Roadmap is when the various theories and best practices really came to life”, Mark recalls. One of the activities was a role-play scenario in which a CEO tells the staff that from the next day onwards, they will be a self-managed team. “At that moment, I understood the work that is needed before such a statement can be processed fully.
Barry, while talking about the same experience, says everyone in a team or organization needs to be on the same page, egos need to be pushed aside, and traditional belief systems need to be challenged.
Barry, while talking about the same experience, says everyone in a team or organization needs to be on the same page, egos need to be pushed aside, and traditional belief systems need to be challenged. He added that particular roles need to let go of their professional identities, something that is often a huge source of pride and control. “It’s an internal conflict that you have to go through to be able to prioritize the collective over yourself as an individual,” Barry explains.
What advice would you give yourself now that you have completed the course?
“I would say keeping an open mind throughout the program is key. There is an abundance of valuable knowledge and expertise in these groups just waiting to be explored. This only happens when you are open to embracing the differences in the group by keeping an open mind and an open heart,” Barry says, adding, “Immersing yourself in the group and in the sessions, coupled with proper preparation and reflections, will help you understand and imbibe the learnings even better.”
SSI UK is the newest country partner of the SSI community. What do you see as its goals?
“In the UK, there wasn’t a place to go to while on the quest for new and progressive ways of working. I had to go across borders for this. It has something to do with the mindset and lack of experience in the UK. For instance, the concept of self-management in the UK is often regarded as something that would just not work.
So, with SSI UK, we want to be at the core of progressive ways of working and set an example that shows that it is possible even here,” Barry says.
Mark says it’s about changing the narrative. The mindset has to shift from ‘it’s a timing issue in the UK’, to ‘the time is now’.
“We want to establish a sense of community here in order to make that happen. This community would embrace creating a new movement that’s all about cooperation, and not competition. The goal should be to progress as a collective towards better ways of working,” he says.
Mark reflects on his upbringing, where the constant narrative was that work was something you had to ‘survive’ and ‘go through’. It was all about clocking in and looking forward to clocking out again.
“There needs to be a shift in how we view work. I would love for work to be far more engaging, and connect with who you are as an individual,” Mark concludes.
What a great interview – thanks to Barry and Mark 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 at SSI UK! Would you like to become a certified Semco Style Expert yourself?