Bill Gore (GORE founder) said, “To be innovative you have to creative environment of collaboration.” How do you foster that environment? People behave differently when thrown together and work together on something that is urgent. Why not build company around that, where stuff gets done?
How do people feel like they aren’t a number, especially when your organization gets larger? GORE is a peer based organization. Everyone’s job is to make everyone else’s job successful. Invest in relationships with coworkers. People are more vested in outcome of company then. They feel like part of a whole.
On-demand hierarchy – If there is a fixed hieracrcy it is assumed the top person knows the most. However, decisions should be made on who is best to make decision. Decision making shifts, it is situational, thus it is hierarchy on-demand. Going to where the knowledge is. You don’t get best of organization with fixed hierarchy.
Lattice company – A company that is connected by series of nodes. We all want to connect with each other. Everyone is connecting with everyone in their network. Go directly to the source to get the information you need.
We don’t teel people what to do or what projects to do. Want individual to feel ownership of a project. Suggestions may be made, but want broader organization to take ownership of a project. Then it becomes more powerful.
Organization is never going to be in a nice neat package or alignment. Everyone works with common foundation of values. You work here you buy into the values at GORE. Establish common foundation of values.
Belief in individual, that everyone can make contribution. Power of small teams. As we get larger we want associates to feel connected. We’re all in the same boat. Even small teams can do a lot, we do more when we’re on the same ship. Thus align all the practices.
Take a long term view. Not be driven by finances alone. Are we really reaching out into the communities. Are we driving innovation.
There’s a lot of internal selling. Individuals have to convince others that their idea is a good idea. In innovation mode not all ideas are good ideas. How much passion does the individual have for it, can they get others to rally around it? We like peer review process to filter the ideas that come up. Let teams look at projects and map out what is attractive. Associates want to work on things with the biggest impact. Lot of competition at GORE so associates don’t want to be looked at being ranked last in impact/contribution. It’s not default that person who has seniority/experience/vocal gets paid most. It’s who makes impact.
Don’t confuse making money versus what is your passion. Be true to your strengths.
Each associate at GORE has a sponsor that is committed to maximize the associate’s growth. Sponsor is not necessarily the leader. Leader is about maximizing business success.
We keep GORE plants at 200-250 associates. Figure out how to divide so you can multiply. It is an investment. A different level of engagement and ownership in smaller plants. At a large plant it is hard to build relationships and see who is working. Doesn’t have sense of team or personality. Gets too large you have diminishing return of collaboration. Bill Gore said ideal is right around 150-200 associates.
This can be scaleable. Worldwide we have 9,000 associates. What binds us together is the common sense of values. Beliefs are transferable across locations. Some things may be adapted depending on locales, and we have to respect the local culture, but is based on belief set.
Culture is made up of associates actions and beliefs. Need to make sure person we bring in fits culture and beliefs. Make culture visible every day.
Water line principle, another ship reference. Bill Gore was concerned about manuals that told everyone what to do. Wanted to tap into people’s wisdom. Set up principles and came up with water line. Don’t want to drill holes below the water line because ship would sink. Drill holes, take risks, above the water line, but not below the water line. Consult with others when considering.
Leadership is defined by followership. They are only a leader if someone wants to follow them. Leadership has to be earned, respect and trust must be gained. You find out who is leading then. Leaders don’t get there because of seniority or populatrity. They are acknowledged by peers.
Leaders role will shift. They need to take time to show and explain the culture, decisions and more. It is not wasted time. They walk the talk of GORE.
I can’t be most knowledgeable at company. A beautiful cultural foundation was setup 50 years, but it needs to continue to grow and adapt and be relevant in today’s world. I focus in on that. I also help provide braoder framework. How can we get better as an organization.
People at GORE feel like they are making a difference. Over 50% of associates think they are leaders at GORE.
Strong values, clear definition of success, peer accountability.
Growing, developing each other. Leadership happens by influence.