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The mission of this epublication is to be a practical guide to the application of an integral perspective to the challenges of leadership in business and life and to the effective relationship between executive/business coaches and their clients. My vision includes that this will be a place where others, as well as myself, can continue to develop and share ideas about Integral Leadership and integral coaching. This vision is gradually becoming reality.
> Russ Volckmann
Alan Deutschman, “The Fabric of Creativity”, Fast Company, December 2004, pp. 54-62.
Another article in the long line of leader-hero worship, this one features W.L. Gore and Gore-Tex. Well, perhaps this is a bit different because it focuses on the question of creativity and innovation in a company that innovates with a small-is-beautiful culture. And it is different in that the hero died 18 years ago, but the company continues to thrive.
Gore organized his company with a set of task force-like teams that have proliferated as new products have been created and markets have been opened. Even manufacturing organizations are limited to 150-200 people, small enough for everyone to know who is on board and to communicate directly, a value held highly by Gore.
The article summarizes Gores “rules”:
- The power of small teams:
- This is an interesting concept from an integral point of view. It addresses individual capacities and is focused on building a culture through a structural intervention.
- No ranks, no titles, no bosses:
- Associates have sponsors, but not job descriptions. They develop roles that fit who they are on the team. Roles are LL constructs, but here, rather than being defined systemically, they are defined by the individual in relation to their small-is-beautiful system.
- Take the long view:
- Patience supports the development of new products over time. This is a quality that Gore brings – patience. It is translated into over support for long range new product and market development. Gore models this and it is part of the culture.
- Make time for face time:
- So much for technology; this culture is built on nose-to-nose, shoulder-to-shoulder communication as a preference over email and other hi-tech “essentials.”
- Celebrate failure:
- The well known, but rarely practiced art of support for risk taking that in the long run produces outstanding results. This is a culture thing that challenges and frees those aspects of individuals that inhibit creativity and innovation.
I have saved for last:
Lead by Leading: Assure 10% of each employees time is about new ideas – exploring, formulating, sharing…Then allow leadership to emerge based on the capacity of an individual and an idea to attract followers. An attractor theory of leadership!
While Gore died in 1986, the culture lives on and has continued to produce a double-digit growth rate now to the tune of $1.6 billion. And growth will challenge this exceptional approach. I have fleshed out the article just a bit with integral framing, but the value in studies like this is that it moves us beyond hero-leader worship into a more integral understanding of what it takes to build a thriving, innovative organization that is not dependent on the political power structure in our society.
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- Russ Volckmann, PhD, Coaching Leaders in Business and Life
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