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The name given to the structure created by Gore, the organization design
W.L. Gore named the structure of his ‘unmanaged’ company a ‘lattice’. This structure is part of Gore’s unmanaged and unstructured company design. The organizational design provides direct communication person to person without intermediaries. There is no assigned authority and no bosses. New employees are assigned a sponsor and often can end up with several sponsors as they move through their initial training. The leadership style is called ‘followership’ and objectives are set by those who must accomplish them. Employees make commitments to accomplish tasks and functions.
Evaluation of the design— judgment with outcomes
Gore’s lattice design is based upon the assumption that other organizations have underground lattice designs that supplement their formal organizational design. Gore eliminated the formal structure in favor of the underground design. This informal design allows cross-functional teams to form and do the work needed rather than having the work filter down to those who can accomplish it in a formal organizational structure. This saves time and effort and, because it requires individual commitment, the tasks are completed more efficiently.
The influences on the Gore system of unmanagement
Because Gore did not want to smother the creativity or ingenuity of his associates he moved away from creating a firm organizational structure. To support he unmanagement structure Gore adopted a method called sponsorship to welcome and train new associates. Oftentimes an employee with have several sponsors as they move through their training period. The role of the sponsor is not to make the employee subservient but guide and assist the new employee discover his function and contribution to the company.
The values of the Gore Culture and how are they transmitted to Gore associates
Gore associates are introduced to the Gore management style when they arrive and are assigned a sponsor. The sponsor works to integrate the new employee by introducing him to the ‘associate’ model and the unmanagement style. In addition, current and new associates are asked to follow four guiding principals. These principals are taken directly from the case study itself: They are ‘try to be fair’, ‘use your freedom to grow’, make your own commitments, and keep them’, and ‘consult with other associates before any action that may hurt the reputation or financial stability of the company”.
The source of Gore’s competitive advantage
Gore’s competitive advantage comes from the employees’ commitment to Gore. The function of the associates and sponsors are to support the mission of Gore. Because Gore does not have a formal management structure employees with ideas do not have to take their idea through a management structure to get it approved. Gore employees are empowered to use their abilities to solve problems. Oftentimes when a problem is identified it goes directly to the employee who is involved in the manufacture or creation of a product.
Can Gore maintain its culture as it continues to grow?
Yes! Gore and associates has directly addressed this issue. When Gore himself visited one of his facilities he remarked that he did not know everyone in the facility. He decided that his company was getting too big. His answer to this problem was to limit the number of employees at any of the facilities to between 150 and two hundred associates. He wanted to maintain the close knit interpersonal atmosphere. According to the case study Gore and Associates has 44 plants worldwide with each having between 150 to 200 employees.
Can the Gore management culture work in other companies?
The Gore management culture could work in other companies. But, it would work well if at the beginning the company set itself up as a lattice with associates. If the company has no other history with other management styles the company can successfully follow the lattice management style. If the company has functioned with another top-down management style it may find it difficult to transition to the lattice management style. It would take a great amount of commitment from former management and employees. Change in an organization is difficult but not impossible.
The challenges Gore faces. An approach Gore should take to position the company to effectively deal with the challenges
Gore faces many of the same challenges of other companies. Competition is its greatest challenge. Gore and its associates will continue to strive to outdo the competition. It will accomplish this by following Gore’s core values: fairness, freedom, commitment, and discretion. Gore can maintain a competitive advantage by encouraging research and development, identifying and fixing problems quickly, and maintaining the welfare of its workforce. All employees should be focused on maintaining the company’s reputation and credibility. Gore’s success comes from a corporate culture that encourages natural leaders to lead while giving product specialists the freedom they need to develop and market quality products.
An example of Gore’s commitment to marketing quality products is their creation and marketing of the GORE PROCEL® Cast Liner. When added to a fiberglass cast it makes having a broken bone more bearable:
The GORE PROCEL® Cast Liner minimizes itch, odor, discomfort and inconvenience with The Cast You Can Get Wet™. Our legendary GORE-TEX® fabric technology makes it work.1
American Psychological Association (2001). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Gore and Associates. Creative Technologies Worldwide web page. Web.
Gore-Tex Outerwear and Products. Web.
Gore Medical Products. 2007. Web.
Fortune Magazine. The 100 Best Companies to Work For. Web.
The Scientist. “Careers”. Employer Information: The W.L. Gore and Associates. Web.
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