For the past several months, several of us (some faculty from the Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business, some former Associates from the Gore Enterprise, some local business leaders) have been kicking around the idea of creating a network where people who are interested in Gore and other companies with empowering cultures could meet and exchange ideas. This summer, our dream of creating a Center for High-Performing Organizational Cultures got off to a promising start.
We held a luncheon session in July on Culture as a Competitive Advantage with a keynote talk by Dr. Heinrich Flik (long-time Gore leader) on W. L. Gore & Associates as a learning culture. Heinrich’s thoughtful talk, and the discussion that followed, was well received. One of my key takeaways from Heinrich’s talk was in considering the lifecycle of corporations, and how the flexibility of the early start up phase of an organization, over time, gives way to the controlling impulse of the structured organization. If the organization goes too far in the direction of control, then bureaucracy, senescence, and decline set in. Managing the polarity of flexibility and control becomes a key leadership task.
In August, we held a “Shaping the Center” session with 45 attendees from the US and around the globe (2 from Italy, 2 from Mexico, and 1 from Hong Kong). This session was equally successful. We heard from a variety of different organizations and a variety of different approaches to creating engaging cultures that unleash potential of people. We experienced the power of having four key constituencies in the room at the same time: academics, practitioners, thought leaders and business leaders. We all learned from the discussions generated by the diverse perspectives represented.
As a result of our summer events, we’ve taken the next step of putting together a prospectus for the coming year. We call it a “draft” prospectus, because we are looking for comments, suggestions, and upgrades AND because we are sure we will update the prospectus once we’ve had a chance to mull over the input we receive. You can see a copy of our draft Prospectus here. I hope you will find it informative, and energizing. If you have any questions or comment, please feel free to get back to me. If you are interested in joining our network, I would look forward to the opportunity to discuss our ideas in greater detail. Please feel free to distribute this version of the draft Prospectus to other interested folks.