W.L Gore Company was started by Wilbert Gore who had 17 years experience working in an organization that was managed the traditional way. He however noted that in the time of crisis the rules were put aside and all employees came together in search of a solution and whenever this was done the company experienced a great breakthrough. This formed the foundation of his company: he threw away the rules. Therefore this paper seeks to analyse W.L Gore Company in terms of delegation and span of control; departmental formats and organizational chart; and Burns and Stalker's thoughts on Mechanistic versus Organic organizations.
Delegation and span of control
Delegation is assigning some level of decision-making authority to lower-level employees. It helps managers to devote more time to other responsibilities such as motivating employees and planning. Span of control on the other hand is the number of people who report directly to a manager. There are two types: wide and narrow span of control.
The employees at Gore are at liberty to pursue new ideas and the company was willing and patient to nurture the ideas. They are also free to research on new ideas and take action which according to Kreitner (2008) is a high level of delegation. For example, Elixir acoustic guitar wire, a product of W.L Gore Company, came into existence this way.
W.L Gore span of control can be described as being narrow. This is because it has only four departments, a characteristic of narrow span of control. However, the heads of these departments are more of leaders than managers. This is why it was not easy to identify the boss from among other employees. The employees found it difficult to believe that there was no immediate boss but rather the team was the boss. In fact the word "boss" is never used in W.L Gore.
Departmental format and organizational chart
Departmentalization is grouping related jobs or processes into major organizational subunits. Product-service is one of the departmental formats. It is more organic and offers good coordination. The product/service is the unifying theme. E.g. two products are managed as semi-autonomous business. This is the type of departmentalization adopted by W.L Gore. It has four departments namely: fabrics, medical, industrial, and electronic products. Neither vertical nor horizontal hierarchies are well defined in W.L Gore. It is widely known not to have any bosses or hierarchy. This has helped the company to fit well in its environment as it is unique from other companies.
According to Burns and Stalker's thoughts on mechanistic versus organic organizations, W.L Gore Company is an organic organization. Organic organization has quite flexible structures and is adapts well to change. It has low "primary direction and control" (Kreitner, 2008 p. 246) as is evident in W.L Gore. Diane Davidson explains how she found it challenging working at W.L Gore at first because she did not have somebody to give her direction. She constantly asked who the boss was. Instead of a boss she was given a mentor. The company has also low hierarchal control. In W.L Gore, lower-level employees can easily approach the C.E.O and discuss matters concerning the company freely in an informal way as Terry Kelly explains.