‘You’re having a laugh!’, I hear you cry. But no…
In 1958 Bill Gore and his wife Vieve formed their company, W.L. Gore & Associates, although it was not until 1976, when their son Bob discovered, what become, GORE-TEX fabric, that the organisation received global fame.
In 1969, Gore cables landed on the moon, before Neil Armstrong got there. They are still there, by the way… the first moon debris!
Wind forward over 50 years and on 18th February 2021, the Perseverance Rover, guided by Gore cables, landed on Mars, using the same raw materials that were used in the 1960s. How is that for product sustainability!
That, however, was not, to my mind, the Gores’ main contribution to sustainability. No, their contribution to sustainability stemmed from the way they treated their employees and the way their Associates (not staff) treat each other.
This all came from WW2 Experience, where the traditional hierarchy was relaxed and people were utilised because of their inherent talents, rather than their position within the hierarchy. Unfortunately, after the war, the hierarchy was re-instated.
Bill learned from this and when he started his own company, in the garage, after reputedly, pawning Vieves’ engagement ring, he decided he would build his company without the hierarchy. This resulted in the ‘Four guiding principles’, Fairness, Freedom, Commitment and Waterline, which are still prevalent within the Gore Enterprise today and still discussed and written about, by most of the leading American academics and universities.
In the 21st Century, it seems this management style is what most forward-thinking organisations, whether in the creative industries or not, are striving for. Yet, it existed in the 1950s.
Bill Gore, a man ahead of his time!