Organizational Culture Design To: New Consulting Team Member
Re: Organizational Culture and Design
We have a manufacturing client with a very similar situation to W.L. Gore and Associates, as discussed in the text, page 276. We have a meeting with our manufacturing client later this week, and I would like you to have a good understanding of what has made W.L.Gore so successful in preparation for our meeting with our manufacturing client. To prepare for this meeting, please review : Management in Action on page 276 of the textbook, W.L. Gore’s Culture Promotes Employee Satisfaction, Innovation and Retention.
Answer the following questions using only the text material, critical thinking skills, and APA format. Word count: 600 minimum, excluding the title page.
1. Which of the 12 ways to embed organizational culture has Gore used to create its current culture? Provide examples to support your conclusions.
2. Which of the 3 types of organizational design discussed in the chapter is most similar to Gore’s lattice structure. Explain your rationale.
3. Is Gore’s structure more organic or mechanistic? Explain.
4. When small companies grow, one of the typical reasons for failure is the inability to establish an effective management structure. Why would this be the case and what should the owners do to avoid the problem?
Details of the Written Assignment
Please remember that this assignment is for your researched thought. If you describe an opinion it should be grounded in citation and reference based research. The purpose of the assignment is for you to critically examine issues, using research as your foundation for your ideas. Ideas built from research create credibility with the reader. It W.L. Gore’s Culture Promotes Employee
Satisfaction, Innovation, and Retention
W.L. Gore & Associates was founded in 1958 by Wilbert (Bill) and
Genevieve (Vieve) Gore. The com- pany started in the basement of their
home. Success transformed the business from the basement to its first
manufacturing plant in 1960. Today, Gore has over $3 billion in revenue and
10,000 employees working in offices across 25 countries. It is one of the 200
largest privately held companies in the U.S.122
The company is best known for its Gore-Tex water and windproof fabrics
that are used in a variety of out- door apparel. But the company has expanded
its prod- ucts to include vacuum filters, microwave cable assemblies, guitar
strings, dental floss, acoustic vents for cell phones, and medical devices.123
The company has been profitable every year since its foundation and has
been ranked on Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list every year
since 1998. Its best ranking was as No. 2 in 2005, and it was No. 12 in 2016.
Not surprisingly, employees tend to remain at Gore once hired. The annual
turnover rate is about 3%.124
Structure, Culture, and Values Leadership Conviction Bill Gore wanted to
start a company that was free from bureaucracy and a command and control
style of leader- ship. He felt that this was the best way to foster creativity,
engagement, and innovation. He was a strong believer in autonomy and
creating an environment in which people flourished. To support this
philosophy, the company estab- lished a unique organizational structure and
Gore’s organizational structure is referred to as a team- based “lattice”
organization. “There are no traditional orga- nizational charts, no chains of
command, nor predetermined channels of communication.” Employees, who
are all called associates, are accountable to the member of their multidisciplined teams. Teams form in an ad hoc fashion around perceived
“opportunities,” and leaders emerge.125
“Leadership opportunities at Gore are based on how much of a ‘followership’
someone has among co- workers. Gore also uses peer assessments to
determine compensation,” according to Fortune.126
Associates are “responsible for managing their own workload” and for
independently making commitments that support team goals. Goals are not
dictated from the top down. Rather, associates establish their own
commitments, and these percolate upward to form corporate forecasts.
High-quality relationships “with each other, with customers, with vendors
and suppliers, and with our surrounding communities” are essential at Gore.
Asso- ciates are encouraged to “build and maintain long-term relationships
by communicating directly.” Face-to-face meetings and phone calls are
preferred over less rich media, like e-mail and texting.127
The company established a set of fundamental be- liefs to help embed its
• Belief in the individual: If you trust individuals and believe in them, they will be
motivated to do what’s right for the company.
• Power of small teams: Our lattice organization harnesses the fast decision-making,
diverse perspec- tives, and collaboration of small teams.
• All in the same boat: All Gore associates are part own- ers of the company through the
associate stock plan.
• Long-term view: Our investment decisions are based on long-term payoff, and our
fundamental beliefs are not sacrificed for short-term gain.128
How Does it All Work?
Associates are not hired for specific jobs. Rather, they are “hired for general
work areas. With the guidance of their sponsors [everyone has a sponsor,
whose goal is to help people succeed] and a growing understanding of
opportu- nities and team objectives, associates commit to projects that match
their skills. . . . Sponsors help associates chart a course in the organization
that will offer personal fulfill- ment while maximizing their contribution to
the enter- prise.”129 They do this by actively providing feedback on
performance and personal development and by helping associates network
Bill Gore also believed in keeping operational facilities small due to his focus
on high-quality interpersonal rela- tionships. He observed that it was hard to
know everyone once the number of employees at a facility exceeded 150–200
people. The company thus splits up people at a facility once it reaches this
size by creating a new location.
The final piece of the cultural puzzle involves a set of guiding principles that
Bill Gore 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.”130 Associates are expected to live by these
principles, and the company spends considerable effort trying to hire
peo- ple who fit into its culture. It is also important to note that the
company does not believe in showering associates with lavish perks as
do many of the other companies listed on Fortune’s list of best
companies. The “headquarters doesn’t have foosball tables or napping
to Fortune. One employee described the culture this way: “It’s
authentic. It’s not a façade or marketing strategy.”131
Should Socializing outside Work Hours Be Mandatory? Person–
organization fit reflects the extent to which someone’s personality and
values match, or fit, an orga- nization’s culture and climate. Good fit is
important for both employees and organizations. This challenge involves the cultural considerations of asking employees to socialize
outside work hours. If socializing outside work is an expectation of
new hires, then it becomes something to consider when applying for
jobs. Why would companies ask employees to socialize outside of
work hours? There are a number of good rea- sons: (1) fostering
comfort and relaxation among employees, (2) helping people de-stress
after a hard day, (3) learning more about one’s colleagues, and (4)
build- ing teamwork and unity.132 All of these benefits should improve
interpersonal relationships and potentially boost productivity and
customer service. If such requests are voluntary, however, then it is
likely that fewer people will show up, thereby reduc- ing the benefits.
People who show up are more likely to be like-minded and share a
common race and gen- der, as well as hobbies, and tastes. Voluntary
requests can thus serve as a subtle way of promoting homoge- neity
rather than diversity. Moreover, voluntary requests potentially set up a
situation in which people develop unequal social net- works. This can
have unfair career advantages for those who attend because people
discuss work-related issues at such gatherings. It thus makes some
sense to make it mandatory to socialize outside of work. Some
companies accept this conclusion. Zappos did in the past, and other
companies continue the practice today.
One woman told a reporter that there was an unwrit- ten requirement at
her employer that “employees were expected to spend extra money and
time on group lunches and twice-weekly drinks. This kind of socializing was necessary in order to get ahead.” She was not told about the
requirement during the hiring process, and she now feels a lack of fit.
Her problem with the expecta- tion is that she has two children to pick
up from school and she tries to save money by taking her lunch to
work. In a recent performance appraisal, she was told “I needed to be
more of a team player.” Her feedback was partly based on her lack of
socializing outside of work.133
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