Imagine a boss who hopes — no, insists — that employees “find equilibrium in their professional, personal, and spiritual lives.” He allows workers to set their own hours, work from home if they like, bring their kids to the office, ignore departmental barriers, and veto managerial directives.

This dream boss is Ricardo Semler, CEO of Sao Paulo-based Semco, a multinational manufacturing, consulting, and technology company with more than $200 million a year in revenue. In The Seven-Day Weekend: Changing the Way Work Works (Portfolio), Semler explains how his multifaceted company (he doesn’t know, or care, just how many units it has) manages to succeed while ignoring just about every law of conventional business.

Semler’s cardinal rule — though he wouldn’t call it a rule — is simple: Ask Why. “Employees must be free to question, to analyze, to investigate,” he writes. Taking the “Whyway” with employees, according to Semler, affirms them as thinking adults, not mindless drones. When companies get out of the control business, he believes, they can discover the business they really want to be.
— CHRIS TUCKER