In the book The Tipping Point they describe the organization called Gore Associates and their organization. I found it fascinating and somewhat hard for me to comprehend. The subject of the section was the Power of Context. I would like to quote from the book. "If you want groups to serve as incubators for contagious messages, ….we have to keep groups below the 150 Tipping Point." "Gore Associates, a privately held, multimillion dollar high-tech firm that makes the water-resistant Gore-Tex fabric, as well Glide dental floss, semiconductors, etc. At Gore there are no titles. If you asked people who work there for their card, it will just have their name and underneath it the word "Associate," regardless of how much money they make or how much responsibility they have or how long they have been with the company. People do not have bosses, they have sponsors – mentors – who watch out for their interests. There are no organization charts, no budgets, no elaborate strategic plans. Salaries are determined collectively. Headquarters for the company is a low-sling, unpretentious red brick building. All the offices are the same size and corners tend to be conference rooms. When asked repeated of a person who was clearly a senior person, he finally said with a grin, "I am a meddler." …. Gore is unusual and and a clear well articulated philosophy. It is a big establish company that is attempting to behave like a small entrepreneurial start-up."
"Bill Gore, the late founder, seems to have stumbled on a strategy by trial and error. "We found again and again that things get clumsy at a hundred and fifty," so 150 employees per plant became a company goal. They do their long term planning by making parking lots for 150 cars. When people start parking on the grass, it is time for a new plant." I gather Hutterite communities have the same philosophy.
I also recall Magna Industries and their philosophy of small plants all competing for similar business. At one stage Frank Stonach became less involved and his management decided to try to make a complete car and integrate the organization. It was a disaster. Frank came back and fired the bunch and got back to his old principle. I do not know what the philosophy is now but that sure worked for Frank, who certainly has his own management style. I also have heard that each plant was run by a tool and dye maker, which is where Frank started.
It really challenges my concept of organization and strategy. I wonder is 150 is the magic number for consulting organizations. I expect less that 150 is the number based on my experience. However I know that most large consulting organizations become dysfunctional.
Can you imagine working in an organization that roles worked like Gore Associates? I should do more research and see what I can find out.