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May 08, 2006

No Job Titles

Adaptive Path is feeling a few growing pains, which has lead me to look around for alternative models for organizational structure that lead to successful, creative, empowered teams. I found myself returning to W.L. Gore and Associates set up, most famously reported in Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point.

The best article I've found comes from Workforce Management. Called "Small Groups, Big Ideas," it discusses the strange structure at play, which includes no job titles, and no hierarchy, and the challenges such a set-up poses. Here is my favorite passage:

"It isn’t a company for everyone," Brinton says. "It takes a special kind of person to be effective here--someone who is really passionate about sharing information, as opposed to controlling it. Someone who can handle a degree of ambiguity, as opposed to ‘Here’s my job and I only do these tasks.’ Someone who’s willing to lift his or her head up from the desk and see what the business’ real needs are."

They were also the subject of a Fast Company piece a number of years back. Some choice nuggets:

"A project doesn't move forward unless people buy into it. You cultivate followership by selling yourself, articulating your ideas, and developing a reputation for seeing things through."

"It's a process of giving away ownership of the idea to people who want to contribute and be a part of it. The project won't go anywhere if you don't let people run with it."

"The idea is that employees are not accountable to the president of the company; they're accountable to their colleagues."

And they don't shy away from discussing it publicly, as Gore's corporate culture web page demonstrates.

If you know of either any deeper discussions of Gore's organizational structure, or other interesting discussions of alternative models, I'd love it if you emailed them to me. (As I still have comments turned off on this blog). Email peterme AT peterme DOT com.

Posted by peterme at May 8, 2006 10:33 PM

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