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Can the public sphere of politics, economy and legislation actually learn something from the way a business is being run? Most would say no – as corporations are on the front line when it comes to pollution, unequal work environments etc. And also as most of the corporations that exist, are solely focused on profit, however ‘green’ they might claim to be. But there are actually companies that are based on or developing new ways of working from a perspective of Equality. One of those companies is the very successful corporation behind the Gore-tex fabric. In this company there are no bosses or employees. Everyone working there are associates and are expected to take self-responsibility with regards to the work they are doing. This creates a unique work environment for everyone involved and their results are unprecedented. When discussing the foundation for creating a new political, social and financial system of Equality – a model like W.L Gore’s might be worthy considering. ‘Famous for tearing up the management rulebook, WL Gore operates without bosses in an environment where trust, freedom and innovation are prized. Little surprise then that the hi-tech pioneer’s staff are so loyal’ ‘In 2009, for the twelfth consecutive year, W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc. earned a position on Fortune magazine’s annual list of the U.S. “100 Best Companies to Work For.”[6] Its European operations have also earned similar honors. Gore UK has been named seven times by London’s The Sunday Times as one of the “Best Companies to Work For.”[7] In 2009, Gore Germany ranked eighth in the “100 Best Places to Work in Germany” among mid-sized companies.[8] Gore Italy ranked sixth among the “35 Best Places to Work in Italy.”[9] Gore France topped the list of “Best Workplaces in France”[10] while Gore Scandinavia ranked fourth among small companies on the list of “Best Workplaces in Sweden.”[11] Gore was listed 12th on the “50 Best Large Workplaces in Europe 2009.”[12] An important factor in this recognition is Gore’s unique culture, which evolved from the company’s success with small teams during its early years. This approach to business was based on Bill Gore’s experience with “task force teams” while he was employed at the DuPont Company. Such groups were formed at DuPont on an ad hoc basis to attack problem situations. They were usually multidisciplinary and typically operated for short periods of time outside of the company’s formal management hierarchy. Bill Gore first presented the concept of a “lattice” organization to Gore associates in 1967. He later refined his ideas and presented what he termed “culture principles” in a paper entitled “The Lattice Organization – A Philosophy of Enterprise.” It was distributed to Gore associates in 1976.[13] Unlike the traditional management structure that Bill Gore had experienced at DuPont, he proposed a flat, lattice-like organizational structure where everyone shares the same title of “associate.” There are neither chains of command nor predetermined channels of communication. Leaders replace the idea of “bosses.” Associates choose to follow leaders rather than have bosses assigned to them. Associate contribution reviews are based on a peer-level rating system. Bill Gore articulated four culture principles that he called freedom, fairness, commitment and waterline: * Associates have the freedom to encourage, help, and allow other associates to grow in knowledge, skill, and scope of responsibility * Associates should demonstrate fairness to each other and everyone with whom they come in contact * Associates are provided the ability to make one’s own commitments and are expected to keep them * A waterline situation involves consultation with other associates before undertaking actions that could impact the reputation or profitability of the company and otherwise “sink the ship.” In the lattice organization, associates are encouraged to communicate directly with each other and are accountable to fellow members of their teams. Hands-on product innovation and prototyping are encouraged. Teams typically organize around opportunities, new product concepts, or businesses. As teams evolve, leaders frequently emerge as they gain followership. This unusual organizational structure and culture has been shown to be a significant contributor to associate satisfaction and retention.[14]’

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._L._Gore_and_Associates#Gore_Culture

http://www.director.co.uk/MAGAZINE/2010/2_Feb/WLGore_63_06.html

More links on W.L Gore:

http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/89/open_gore.html

http://www.gore.com/en_xx/

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