Coming from the Czech republic, ex-authoritarian society, the concept of freedom is still misunderstood by many. It feels like back in 1989 we were released from a gigantic jail house. Living in a command and control society we had no need nor chance to learn the concept of responsibility and thus freedom. Twenty years later, corruption seems to be a new religion of our region.
The bigger the chaos and also a lack of trust in our society, the bigger the challenge to grasp a concept of freedom in a workplace. Just two years ago, it felt like I came from Mars trying to share the ideas with some of the local businesses. Last year we decided to take three of the best books (in our view) on the topic of workplace freedom, translate them into our language and publish them in the Czech republic and Slovakia (The languages are so similar, meaning the book published in one of the them can easily be distributed in the other country) in a hope to spread the idea to a much larger audience.
First of the books is Maverick! written back in the nineties as a story of the “world’s weirdest workplace”, Brazilian Semco. It is a fantastic story of turning around an old industrial company into the world’s freest workplace that has been serving as a role model to businesses from all over the world. Then there is a current bestselling story of Zappos and its CEO Tony Hsieh. If Semco is a turnaround, then Zappos is a story of a greenfield operation that grew from nothing to over a billion in sales in just ten years. And guess what!? Zappos is not one of the Silicon Valley miracles, nor has a patent for a rare drug. It sells shoes! Actually, it sells happiness. Hence the book title: Delivering Happiness. And finally, there is Freedom Inc., a book that puts it all together. A piece of work that gives a big picture and explains how about twenty or so businesses from around the globe went about introducing freedom into their workplaces.
So, this week one of my dreams came through. We have the books on our hands now. This Tuesday we had a party to celebrate the project in Prague’s HUB. Let us now hope the books will end up in the right hands and we will not have to wait long for some Czech Semcos and Zapposes to show up.