Thursday, April 12, 2007

Radical organizations--an intro

Dennis Bakke, an American businessman, and Ricardo Semler, a Brazilian businessman, have been the two biggest influences on my thinking about what it takes for a nonprofit to thrive. Both have pursued radically different approaches to organizations than the corporate norm.

I first read Semler's Maverick: The World's Most Unusual Work Place in the early 1990's and his The Seven-Day Weekend: Changing the Way Work Works last year.

Semler's Maverick was a liberating book for me, to say the least. In the early 1990 the Christian intentional community I am a leader of, Plow Creek Fellowship, went through a crisis. Maverick was the right book at the right time as I and my fellow communitarians renewed our organization.

Last year I also read Bakke's Joy at Work: A Revolutionary Approach to Fun on the Job. Like Semler, Bakke and the company he co-founded, energy giant AES, took an approach of radical trust in employees and giving employees incredible responsibility.

Bakke's website features Joy at Work Dennis Bakke's Top 10.

Read all ten, get Semler and Bakke's books, and follow along as I post my reflections on each of Bakke's top ten.

As I reviewed this post I realized that I was not totally accurate. Jesus of Nazareth is a bigger influence than either than Semler or Bakke. It's taken quite awhile to realize how radical an organizational leader he was because I was acculturated in the church, a generally conservative institution.

Perhaps I will weave a little of Jesus' edginess into my reflections on Bakke's Top 10.