Friday, November 30, 2012
What Matters Now: Post #9--Ideology~No Hierarchy
Ideology: Managing Without Hierarchy: W.L. Gore & Associates, the makers of Gore-Tex, among other performance fabrics, is considered by Fast Company as one of the world’s most innovative companies. Founded by a chemical engineer from Du Pont, Bill Gore, in the late ‘50s, the company was to be a “skunk works,” an innovative place to work. Today, unlike most companies, Gore has no formal hierarchy, no bosses, and no titles. To call it a flat organization is almost an understatement. Gore is a lattice organization (not hierarchical), where employees go anywhere in the company when they need to get things done (not through a boss); they self-commit to whatever they’re passionate about (instead of being locked in by a position description); and, promotions come from the bottom up. You get to lead ONLY if people are willing to follow you; you’re not promoted from the top. At Gore, leadership is about how the leader makes others successful, not him/herself. The leader goes from being the custodian of power to being the custodian of culture. They ensure a healthy culture where all employees have a voice, not just the powerful. The big question: How do you get the best ideas to surface? Each new employee gets a sponsor, not just a boss. The role of a sponsor is to help each new hire reach full potential. Moreover, peer evaluation becomes the key way for evaluating leaders. All leaders get forced ranked based on the impact they’ve had across the enterprise. Gore finds strong consistency in how managers are ranked from top to bottom. This process drives accountability and discipline. No slackers here.