How Semco is used by Coaches and Consultants

Written by 
The UK Semco Pathfinders team

As a Change Practitioner, you might be considering adding Semco Style to your portfolio, and equipping yourself with tools to humanise the workplace, whether that’s from an internal perspective or as an external consultant; but maybe you’re wondering how Semco’s framework and roadmap will make a difference?

We know that investing in any continued development takes time and commitment, and you want to know that your newfound knowledge and tools will be put to good use. To help you understand more about how Semco Style has enhanced the work of passionate people leaders we asked our UK Semco Style experts to share how their new practices and knowledge has impacted their professional development, and their role in transforming work.


A variety of tools and practices that keeps growing

Semco Style has over 100 tools and practices that are available for you to explore with teams on the road to transformation. The beauty of these tools is they are grounded in real-life experiences, and have been tried and tested for years by Semco and other organisations who have embraced new ways of working.

The Semco Style Framework and Roadmap provide you with a toolbox of approaches to suit your client's needs. It’s not a methodology that has a linear path, instead, Semco Style provides you with many ways to explore transformation.

I love the framework and roadmap for providing a broad, holistic structure to how we can embrace new ways of working thinking into different aspects of organisational life. It’s practical and non-dogmatic, and easy to pick up a single practice and design a focused experiment or pilot in just one area of the business.

It’s difficult to pick just one practice that I’ve used with clients, so here are three that I’ve found powerful in my work.

Simple: Check-in/check-out - I have used this for years and love it; finding a way to help people feel as present and engaged inmeetings as they can means that everyone can participate and contribute.

Medium: Creating the space for participation: encouraging leaders to include their teams in decisions and support greater levels of participation is a must - one client recently asked for my input on a change to how they were setting team goals; before I could even answer, he said "I bet you're going to encourage us to share and get other people's views into it?"  - as you can imagine, my answer was yes!

Hard: From pyramids to networks: this one needs a long-term game plan, and has lots of complexity to begin to move in this direction, but beginning to eliminate slow decision-making processes that come from siloed hierarchies, reducing handover points between one silo team to the next can have amazing results. With a recent client, we started with a small pilot multi-disciplinary team which saw immediate improvements in relationships and time to handover speeds before rolling out to the rest of the business. It took a lot of participation, input, and discussion to allow the new networked structure to emerge, but all that groundwork paid off with a really quick changeover period.”

Barry McNeill: co-founder of Work Progressive, UK Country Partner for Semco Style


A growing community of progressive changemaker

When you become part of the Semco Style community you have the opportunity to connect with other experts both nationally and internationally. This network of progressive transformers gives you the chance to continue to learn from others and gain support with your own cases. Just as it is with Semco Style, this community is collaborative, supportive and passionate about knowledge sharing and helping each other progress.  

“Becoming a Semco Style Expert has given me so much moreconfidence in how I approach clients who desire a more progressive companyculture. For a long time, I felt like my unique approaches were radical, butSemco Style is proof that alternative ways of working create more adaptiveworkplaces where our human potential can thrive.

Aside from the library of tools and resources that are available to me as a coach, I’m most grateful for the community of Semco Style. I’ve made lifelong friends on this journey, and I get a real kick from hearing about the transformations that are taking place. To me, the community is continuous proof that people coming together with a strong mission is how we change the world of work.

If I had to choose one practice I love the most, which is really hard because there are so many, I would choose Roles & Responsibilities. While it’s a medium practice in terms of difficulty, I’ve found this tool highly beneficial for my work in start-ups where people are wearing lots of hats, but stepping on each other's toes, or getting frustrated at the lack of ownership. I worked with a team recently where there had been a big people shift and this practice really helped everyone come together to get aligned and discover new roles that needed to be owned. We all want to know what we’re doing, and what our responsibilities are. And this practice massively helps with that.”

Lizzie Benton: Semco Style Expert, Founder of Liberty Mind


More to play with on the road to self-management

Semco Style is most well-known as a pathway for organisations looking to adopt self-management. This doesn’t mean Semco Style can’t help other organisations seeking to be more progressive, but for those who really want to go on the journey to self-management, Semco Style literally has the Roadmap.

Embarking on self-management, whether internally, or as a coach guiding the transformation, can feel like a courageous step, and it can be hard to know where to start. However, Semco Style provides the Roadmap and the tools to help organisations and coaches kick-start this journey with confidence. As well as the Roadmap, there is also the Semco Style Selfie, a unique diagnostic tool which provides insight into which areas need to be worked on first. You could say it’s the navigation tool to help guide you.

Many organisations around the world have adopted Semco Style as a way to evolve into a self-managed business, including pioneers here in the UK.

“Since graduating as a Semco Style Expert in March 2022, I have been the proud shaper and driver of rolling out one Semco practice per month to support the maturing of our already established self-managed team of 16.

We are curious and experimental in all we do at PTHR, so participation and interest in these practices has been high. We have focused on harnessing creative innovation, enhancing our peer-powered system, whilst questioning to better define what self-management at PTHR means.

The practice that has had most impact is the "boundaries for self-management" exercise. We used this tool to co-create our "Self-Management Script". This semi-live document -iterated upon every three months - defines where we need guidance from our leader, where we can harness peer-power, and where we can work fully autonomously as individuals.

As we scale, having this script will hold increasing value. Self-management is a journey, not a destination.

A space for growth is not a worrying void, but a place for people at all levels to add value (to paraphrase Ricardo Semler)... and in undertaking the Semco Style Institute Expert Programme, the value I have been able to bring to my work feels undoubtedly amplified.

The SSI roadmap sees the need for there to be "BraveLeaders" willing to jump into self-management at the beginning of a journey away from conventional leadership. At PTHR, we are lucky to always have worked in this way, and for me specifically, I had been working using self-managed practices for 2 years when starting the programme.

I felt informed and well-versed in the theory, but what SSI gave was detailed practicalities on how to mature already self-managed teams. Clarity of maturity in our system is the value that can now be seen in how I work; coupled with the exponential personal growth seen through connecting with and learning from self-managed experts and advocates as part of the cohort.”

Kirsten Buck: Semco Style Expert, Chief Impact & Culture Officer of PTHR


PTHR is a great example of how Semco Style has been adopted to continue the development of self-management. It also goes to show the confidence that Semco Style can instil in organisations when we begin to play with more radical approaches. It’s a bold step to do something different, but Semco Style provides more than just a fresh perspective, it gives you the training wheels so that it’s safe to experiment and truly move the organisation forward.

It is also a non-dogmatic, non-prescriptive methodology. This means that organisations can choose to experiment with individual practices, rather than adopt a completely new operating model overnight. This approach can be layered into existing operational practices and approaches to enhance and refine what is already working really well. PTHR have a well-developed way of working and found it was relatively easy to integrate new Semco Style experiments and practices into the existing organisational rhythm.

"Being a Semco Style Expert has validated a lot of my more unorthodox practices and given me more to play with as an advisor and as an operational business that is self-managed."

Perry Timms: Semco Style Expert, Founder & Chief Energy Officer of PTHR

Not just a practice, but a philosophy and mindset

Semco Style certainly has a toolbox, but it goes much deeper than that, and calls on you to explore your own way of thinking and leading.

Embracing the principles of Semco Style is the first step, as much of what we’re conditioned to believe about work comes from years of industrial management mindset. Unlearning outdated concepts, and recognising our own limiting beliefs is all part of the journey.

“What initially appealed to me, as I started the Semco Certified Expert programme was the philosophy, approach, and mindset.

Semco has at its core an invitation to experiment and explore alternative ways of designing and developing businesses. Importantly there is no one size fits all approach, so the ability to meet people where they are to co-design an approach was a big draw.

I’d read a lot of the usual suspects on the future of work and really connected with the sentiment and my own views that ‘there must be a different way’.

What I found in the Semco Expert Programme was a practical, pragmatic, and real-world approach to putting what I knew intuitively into practice. Going through the programme, the sense of community was important, I met some fantastic people, that grew my network and knowledge, but also challenged my thinking.

There are so many practices and tools to draw on, ‘leader on demand’ is one I have been practising and working with several clients to implement. It requires a different mindset, where more traditional forms of control are rewritten. From a Semco tool perspective, I absolutely love the boundaries for action. I find this is an essential tool to co-design and reset the boundaries for implementing ‘leader on demand’. The tool is a great enabler to bring the practice to life.” 

Mark Green: Co-Founder of Work Progressive, UK Country Partner for Semco Style

From a vision to reality

Many coaches, consultants and entrepreneurs have been inspired by more progressive approaches to how we work since reading pioneering stories. Whether it's Ricardo Semler's Maverick! or Reinventing Organisations. But few have the toolkit to be able to bring these concepts to life.

Semco Style Expert, Louisa Scanlan shares how she's not only been able to use the Framework and Roadmap with clients, but has found a strong link between her work in psychometrics, and the benefits of a Semco Style approach.

"What brought me to Semco was curiosity and a need to continue to think that all things work could be done in a different way. Transformational change for me doesn't have to be a big bang, small incremental ideas implemented well can have a huge impact."

"Semco gives you the toolkit to do this. Self management is a concept which so many see as just that, a concept but in reality, something that organisations can achieve."

"It takes a strong vision and some guts but that is what I encourage my clients to do; move beyond the transactional. I have been fascinated by this space since reading Reinventing Organisations and Semco gives me a framework to make it practical. What I am loving now is how I can apply my love of all things psychometrics into this world to truly enable people to bring their whole selves to work."

Louisa Scanlan: Semco Style Expert, Director of Collaborate Business Solutions

If you’re eager to ask more questions about the Semco Style Expert Programme, reach out to our Pathfinders in this feature. We love bringing more progressive thinkers into our community so contact us to find out if Semco Style is part of your own journey.


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