At my current employer, I have the lovely task of helping others innovate with their brands and their media mix. So I got to researching how big companies innovate. I knew of the '20% do-whatever-you-like' rule that 3M and Google use, but that didn't cut it here.

And then I found W.L. Gore.

"Pound for pound, the most innovative company in America is W.L. Gore and Associates," according to Fast Company. They are known for its premier brand Gore-Tex. They also innovate in the electronics, fabric and medical industries.

How do they do it ? 5 key philosophies that dictate how the company is run:

1. Small teams
With small groups, the company is able to respond and innovate quickly.

2. No rank
Instead of a rigid chain of command, which can delay decision making, the company eliminated rank. All employees are equal.

3. Everyone can lead
Without rank, it gives every employee the opportunity to be a leader.

4. Take the long view
Great innovations can sometimes take years, not months. By recognizing this, the company does not demand immediate results for quarterly shareholder reports.

5. Celebrate failures
Success requires failure. By celebrating failure, the company encourages employees to test every new idea because you never know which one will be a runaway success.

Lots of food for thought. And don't worry, I understand the need to frame these five chaotic suggestions in a controlled environment...



08/04/2008 17:54

Very interesting. Yes, you need to frame everything... otherwise there could be very large celebrations ;)

08/13/2008 16:02

Excellent synthesis.

I can only add to this the following lecture:

The 10 Faces of Innovation - Written by the IDEO Founder.


Leave a Reply