W.L.Gore: Lessons from a Management Revolutionary

First, we don’t want to operate in a hierarchy, where decisions have to make their way up to the top and then back down. We’re a lattice or a network, not a hierarchy, and associates can go directly to anyone in the organization to get what they need to be successful.

Second, we try to resist titles. We have a lot of people in responsible positions in the organization, but the whole notion of a title puts you in a box, and worse, it puts you in a position where you can assume you have authority to command others in the organization. So we resist this.

Third, our associates, who are all owners in the company, self-commit to what they want to work on. We believe that rather than having a boss or leader tell people what to do, it’s more powerful to have each person decide what they want to work on and where they can make the greatest contribution. But once you’ve made your commitment as an associate, there’s an expectation that you’ll deliver. So there are two sides to the coin: freedom to decide and a commitment to deliver on your promises.

And fourth: Our leaders have positions of authority because they have followers. Rather than relying on a top-down appointment process, where you often get promoted because you have seniority, or are the best friend of a senior executive, we allow the voice of the organization to determine who’s really qualified to be a leader, based on the willingness of others to follow.

Read:  Part I   –   Part II

Read also: The future of management   – Excerpts

About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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