Rugby Union players from Charters Towers (1904). Via Queensland State Library, collection.

Notes on W.L. Gore & Associates

Forrest ChristianManaging, Reviews - Articles

Yes, there is a point to all of this. The key article is the business case study from Huizenga Business School at Nova Southeastern. Very handy. W.L. Gore & Associates is the fave of most postmodern organizational theorists, who see the company’s lack of official hierarchy as the true networked organization.

I believe that Gore has a great culture, but I don’t see that they ahve eschewed all ranking of individuals. Some people make more money than others. The company ties pay entirely to team performance at the same time tying it solely to invididual performance. The business press does not have the entire picture, obviously.

Gore has a rabid workforce without that big of an ex-worker detractor realm, unlike most of the other Great Places to Work.

The Notes (mostly from HiBeam)

Herman, James. 2002. “Global value webs: logistics and the XML Internet“. Supply Chain Management Review, July 1, 2002.

The value web model may allow a company to stay at a comfortable size that retains agility, maintains its culture, and is appropriate for its chosen core activities. A company like world-renowned fluoropolymer manufacturer W.L. Gore & Associates, which has under 10,000 employees, could not promote the same highly innovative internal culture if it grew to 100,000 people. (12) To meet the needs of certain customers, it now partners to grow its market and revenue without a concomitant increase in people.

Carter, Rick. 2002. “W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc.: Quality’s different drummer“. Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operation, 2002 January 1.

Huizenga Business School. CASE 6-13 W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc.“. [at the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business & Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University.

Hasek, Glenn. 2000. “The Right Chemistry: W.L. Gore & Associates, Company Profile“. Industry Week, March 6, 2000.

The lattice system presents other challenges, as well. Ironically, the company’s openness backfired more than a year ago when it became necessary to trim its workforce in the fabrics and medical-products divisions. Several hundred associates were laid off, primarily in the medical-products division in Flagstaff, Ariz.

The company was upfront about the layoffs and informed associates of the cutbacks six months before they occurred. The media in Flagstaff then helped spread the bad news. Even though many associates were reassigned to other of the company’s facilities, the firm received bad press. “In the end, I decided we didn’t handle that one well,” says Sally Gore.

Field, Karen Auguston. 2002. “Giving engineers the freedom to engineer (W. L. Gore & Associates Inc.)“. Design News; August 5, 2002.

It’s the perfect environment for engineers like Paul Warren, who have no fixed or assigned chain-of-command to report through. Instead, workers are organized around project teams or business units and communicate directly with one another. Sponsors, not bosses, provide career guidance and help engineers reach their full potential. During his career, Warren has worked as a process engineer, product manager, and in product development. Today, he’s recognized both inside and outside the company as an expert on cables….

“We abhor bureaucracy and work to stamp it out. In fact, we have a saying here that if you’re not inventing it, making it, or selling it, you’re wasting your time,” says Bill Delaney, Electronics Products Business Leader.

Actually, that should probably read Bill Delaney, Associate and a business leader for electronics products.

Food & Drug Packaging. 2003. “Procter & Gamble has bought the Glide dental floss business from W.L. Gore & Associates.” Food & Drug Packaging, 10/1/2003.

Procter & Gamble has bought the Glide dental floss business from W.L. Gore & Associates. Glide floss is the market leader in dental offices and the number two retail brand in the U.S. with annual sates of more than $45 million.

Markham, Chris. 2005. “Full bore at Gore“. The Arizona Daily Sun (Flagstaff, Arizona) (via Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News), Jan 23, 2005.

But behind the curtain drawn to protect more than 40 years as a privately held company built on innovation, you find a C-shaped conference table designed so everyone’s looking at each other. The shape eliminates adversity and positions of power while promoting direct eye contact. Every Gore facility has one of these tables in its conference room.

Image Credit: Rugby Union players from Charters Towers (1904). Via Queensland State Library, collection.