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You have a case related to the Grant textbook and available in the e-book. You must do a written individual case analysis which addresses the questions detailed below relating to your chosen case:

WL Gore & Associates- Rethinking Management

1.What are the distinctive features of WL Gore's organisation and management?
2.To what extent do they represent a consistent management approach based upon identifiable principles?
3.What are the advantages and disadvantages of WL Gore's approach to organisation and management?
4.To what extent is the WL Gore approach to organisation and management transferable to other companies? And if it is, to what types of companies?

In 1958, Wilbert Gore left DuPont where he was working as a research scientist. His 17 years working at DuPont was spent working on a synthetic material known as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which he branded as Teflon. This was a product that was used by the Apollo space program. Their major breakthrough was when they realized that their product had the ability stretch and be laced with other microscopic holes (Hamel 2010). The new patented material was given the name Gore-Tex. By 1965 after the business was launched, more than 200 people were employed in the organization (Hamel 2010). WL Gore & Associates had been considered to be among the successful companies in regards to innovation and productivity. The company has currently employed more than 7,500 employees and has more than one thousand different flouropolymer products.

Bill Gore built the company with certain principles and beliefs that are being used to guide Gore Associates during decision making, organizational activities and organizational behavior. These principles and beliefs formed the organizational culture binding employees in the same workplace. The fundamental beliefs of the company are based on the fact that the company believe in their employees to do the right thing. As an illustration, the organization has belief that trusting an individual will make them feel motivated to work hard hence improving on their job engagement and performance (France, Leahy and Parsons 2009, p.35). When making decisions, the company advocates for people to work in small teams with an objective of sharing risks, rewards and commitment.

Additionally, when making decisions, the organization usually focuses on long term views since through these views, the company will remain competitive in the market. When it comes to the guiding principles of the organization, there is freedom where associates are free to achieve their personal goals through directing their efforts to the corporation. In this case, the corporation will be able to action and generate new ideas. There is fairness in which the organization aims to be fair when treating employees and consumers or other relevant stakeholders. Lastly, there is commitment where the organization encourages relevant stakeholder with it included to keep their commitments without failure.

Within the organization, there is a guiding principle known as waterline. With this principle, everyone within the company should be in a position to consult with other associates before making any decisions (Gore Official Website, 2014). This will result in uniformity in decision making and sharing of risks associated with the decisions that were made.

Waterline Principle

The principles and the beliefs that Bill Gore has used in shaping the organization was influenced by Douglas McGregor the author of The Human Side of Enterprise. In this book, Douglas explained the theory of X and Y which he considered as two ends of management. It was a theory that described the human nature in regards to management. Douglas in his book defined the Theory of X and Y as two ends of management continuum based on different views of human nature. Additionally, Theory X was influenced by Taylor’s scientific management approach which focuses on command and control model. When it comes to the Theory of Y, the concept was borrowed from Maslow Hierarchy of Needs Theory. Bill was also inspired from the past experiences while he was working at DuPont.

The management style being used is a lattice structure which is considered to be complex having no titles, hierarchy, or a conventional structure. Gore has only incorporated few titles within the organization. The main reason why he has incorporated this into the organization is because it was included when the company and its partners were making laws and regulation in regards to the success of the partnering organizations. This type of management has a direct line of communication among individuals. Additionally, this type of management style has no authority or leadership style. As the company was expanding, Bill was able to impose a structure where the CEO of the company had four major divisions.

Additionally, within the organization, there are product-focused business units and the normal business support functions. With all these divisions, there is a leader who oversees the daily operations and keep records. WL & Associates is fitted with self-management teams as the fundamental building blocks working in professional environment. These teams have been known to produce products within the stipulated time. The small teams work under minimal supervision and have a stress free environment. This is a major factor making them to generate new ideas that makes the company produce quality products to their consumers (Urbini et L., 2018, p.199).With this, the organization has been able to increase its revenue. This can be supported by their annual revenue is valued at $ 2 billion. Based on the current data from Forbes, the company has a total revenue of $ 3.2 billion. WL & Associates has been ranked to be one of the best companies to work in the United States of America and Europe. The company was among the 100 best companies to work for between 2004 and 2007. From this illustration, Bill Gore has made the organization a better place through its management style and satisfaction of the needs of consumers. WL & Associates is a management company that has been able to bring together different organization with similar objectives and goals.

Gore’s philosophy doesn’t allow them to have bosses within the organization rather, they have sponsors and leaders. With this, Gore’s philosophy is based on the fact that employees require no constant supervision. This means that, employees are trusted to complete their work before the due date and deliver quality work. In the company, new associates joining the company are always assigned a sponsor/leader to help them fit within the organization through learning more about organizational structure, management style, and organizational practice among other relevant aspects regarding the company (Manz and Pearce 2017). This kind of familiarization makes it easier for new associates to fit within the company and not feel left out.

Additionally, Gore believes that when it comes to leadership, people should earn the position. Therefore, the organization embraces the aspect of natural leadership. As an illustration, leaders who are appointed in this organization, usually are based on merits. This can be supported by the fact that there is a record being made on all employees where leadership skills will be identified (Gilbreath and Karimi 2012, p.120). As a result, people who have been identified to have effective leadership qualities are given the mantle of being a leader. For example, identified leaders can be allowed to call for meetings. When people show up, the person can be considered as an influential leader. Consequently, when people doesn’t show up, the person will be considered as not able to lead.

In the company, W.L. & Associates, there are no mission and vision statement. As a result, it has developed a culture that encourages associates to develop the statements depending on their feelings and motivation. This means that, associates have the ability to develop their own mission and vision statement with an objective of influencing the performance of the organization. This type of strategy makes the associates feel like they are part of the organization being that their thought and perception are recognized (Gannon Glover and Abel 2004, p.1170). This is a motivation factor that makes other associates to do their best towards the success of the organization. Additionally, within this this strategy, they have incorporated fairness which they believe will increase loyalty and trust.

W.L & Associates has a unique organizational policy. As an illustration, within the organization, there are non-discriminatory standards that have been set. These policies have been effective during selection and recruitment of new employees into the organization. Through these policies, LGBT persons have been given equal opportunities. As a proof to the effectiveness of this policy, the organization had about 395 of total workforce being women and more than 17% were from the minority group. During hiring and recruitment of employees, the company does not merely welcome new employees for the purpose of filling positions but focus on the flexibility of the work environment to ensure that strengths and weaknesses of the candidates are identified. Therefore, when new associates are being introduced, there are allowed to select places where they can be able to fit in and interact freely. As a result, associates’ productivity will increase because they have selected an environment where they are free and comfortable. The comfortability of the Associates within the organization is also contributed by the fact that they are given a platform where they can be their own boss (Tomczak, Reinecke and Kuss 2018, p.100). This is something that is not evident in most organization not only in the United States of America but also across the globe.

W.L & Associates encourages generation of innovative ideas through allowing employees to put themselves in places where they want to be in the future. This makes it easier for these employees to identify problems and come up with different ways of solving the problem.

The distinctive organizational and management features at W.L & Associates represents a consistent management based on the following principles; first, there is uses of lattice management structure where there are few leadership positions. As an illustration, the organization is only made up of four division each having a leader who is responsible for overseeing all activities. The bottom up approach being used by the organization is based on leadership by the employees (Conyers 2009). This system of management seems to be operational in this organization because, they have been able to accumulate a total revenue of $3.23 billion without any structure leadership for more than 50 years.

In this style of leadership, employees are in constant interaction. This helps in establishing strong interpersonal relationship among employees. Additionally, it forms a platform where innovative ideas can be generated through sharing (Maitland and Thomson 2014, p56). Employees are free with each other to an extent that they can share ideas on projects and help towards its completion. Once the projects are completed, their quality are undeniable due to the quality and quantity information included when being prepared. The management will not be wasting resources towards employing an additional supervisor to oversee the activities being done by employees because the employees have been entrusted by the management/sponsors to deliver quality work (Urbini et al., 2018, p.200). Employees working in this organization are their own bosses. The lattice management structure being used by the organization has been able to emphasize on accountability where each employee is responsible for their actions (D'Amato 2015, p.15).

The organization uses lattice management structure. This is a system of management where they are bosses or departmental heads controlling the organization and employees. This means that, the organization hasn’t assigned any sense of authority figure within its operations and management. In this type of management system associates become leaders once they join the company. For Gore, they have been focusing on people who are naturally born leaders. This increases productivity because they are able to select leaders with effective leadership qualities (Lian and Tui, 2012, p.60). This is something that is difficult to find in most organization across the globe.

In a lattice organizational structure, there is advocacy of ideas. This means that, an organization is in a position to generate numerous innovative ideas because employees are free to speak their viewpoints during decision making (McDonagh et al., 2014, p.20). Within this management, employees will be dedicated to give their best since they are their own bosses. Secondly, employees are not entitled to any sense of authority but are given sponsors who will ensure that they have a place within the company (Praszkier 2016, p.35). A lattice management style leads to employees feeling like they are part of the organization. The absence of hierarchies in the organization has been replaced by personal commitments. Employees are dedicated to ensure that they act in accordance to their excitation in regards to enhancing the image of the organization through respecting its values and goals. Thirdly, employees are free to communicate to one another and share ideas without the interference from the sponsors (Mizuno et al., 2006, p.169). The company believes that through sharing, there will be production of quality products.

When it comes to handling the operations of the company, decisions regarding the success of the company should be consulted from other associates. This will prevent occurrence of long term mistakes which may affect the operations of the company hence losing its competitive advantage and reduction in market share. There are decisions which may cause serious damages to the enterprise. Therefore, to prevent collapse of the business, pertinent decisions should be consulted before being implemented into organizational practice (Li et al., 2012, p.357). Once in the organization, associates are usually advised to enroll to roles that match their skills and aptitude. This is known as job relevance where employees will be engaged and committed to their job. In this cases, associates will be cutting their coat according to their sizes. In the event that associates engage in roles that they can’t handle, they will be dragging the performance of the organization hence increasing the possibility of making losses.

In some organization, this is not always an issue because they use a different management style (Sharma and Jain, 2013, p.310). In regards to this, employees are not always hired to fill position but rather employed based on skills and aptitude. This minimizes chances of employing under-performing employees which may affect the performance of the organization in the long run (Luthans and Youssef 2007. p.330). Other benefits of this type of management style are: encourages employees to be creative through continuous interaction and consultations, and risks are shared among the small teams that are created (Rehman and Afsar 2012, p.150). Most importantly, when an associate has a new idea, he/she is not required to follow a channel based on leadership/authority for the idea to be put into action or included in daily activities within the organization. These activities are usually agreed upon by partnering organizations. Through partnering with different organization that have similar objectives, there are rules and regulations which have been set in regards to their aims and focus which is to provide a range of innovations which will benefit their employees (Hamel 2010).

The disadvantages include: the recruitment and selection process of candidates are practically non-existence. Secondly, the compensation and rewards of employees have no clear defined procedure. This is because structures are not conducted on the basis of qualification and expertise level (Cicero, Pierro, and van Knippenberg, 2010.p.415). This happens because compensation and reward are meaningless in this type of management style. When it comes to evaluation of performance, it is not being practiced in lattice management structure. This limits the opportunities for development among employees. This is because the lattice management system doesn’t have clearly established performance standards to be used towards improving employee development (Morris, 2009).

Aspects in the Gore’s approach that are transferable to other companies include: the guiding principles such as freedom, waterlines, commitment and fairness. Additionally, due to the type of management that the organization is using which has no hierarchies, employees are able to work in small team where there will be increased understanding and minimal conflicts (Hill et al., 2014).  With this type of management structure, there will be increased generation of new and innovative ideas. This creates a platform where an organization can easily penetrate the market once the new product has been developed. Furthermore, a lattice management style leads to employees feeling like they are part of the organization. The absence of hierarchies in the organization has been replaced by personal commitments. Additionally, there is peer driven judgment where there will be increased establishment of strong interpersonal relationship and positive working environment.

The companies that these aspects can be transferred to include:

  • Engineering firms: in these firms, the management should employee people with skills that will help the organization achieve its goals. The skills should be relevant in regards to the type of engineering firm. Additionally, with few leadership positions and employees working in small teams, it will be easy to complete tasks/projects faster.
  • Medical field companies; in medical field companies, organizations should be in a position to partner with firms with similar objectives. This will help in market penetration and increasing the number of their sales.
  • Designer teams; in this type of organization, lattice system of management can be used to generate new designer garments through treating each employees’ contributing as significant.
  • Technology firms: When it comes to technology firms, lattice system of management can be used to give each employee freedom to generate ideas without interference. Additionally, employees can work in small teams to ensure that allocated projects are completed. Most importantly, through effective teamwork, it will be easier to generate new and innovative ideas


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