W.L. Gore & Associates
Dr. Debra France is a researcher and designer focused on leader and innovator development for W. L. Gore & Associates, an enterprise acknowledged for sustained innovation.
Gore has operated since 1958 as a low-hierarchy, lattice organization to optimize innovation. For sixty years, the organizations’ associates have refined practices for operating in this Theory-Y inspired network organization. Debra researches and characterizes Gore’s organic processes and designs these principles into learning experiences, leadership practices, and organizational processes.
For nearly three decades Debra has led learning teams that provide learning analysis and support for leaders, technologists, and innovators. She joined Gore as the first Global Learning Leader then turned her focus to research and design of leadership development for this organization that operates as a “lattice” with no traditional managers, job descriptions, or organization charts, and minimal hierarchy.
Before joining Gore, Debra was the Director of Learning and Development for Barnes and Noble. She also drove Executive and Management Development for Dell Computer during the company’s rapid growth-years. Before joining Dell, she led the Learning Team at the research consortium, SEMATECH, a complex organization of competitors collaborating to restore U.S. leadership of the semiconductor industry.
Debra earned her doctorate from Columbia University in Leadership and Organizational Learning with a dissertation study on cultural practices that support innovation. She also earned Master’s Degrees in instructional technology and curriculum and instruction from Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Texas at Austin.
Her current research focuses on futures studies that will inform organizational designs and organizational practices for more organic, innovative, networked organizations, and preparing individuals and their teams for the emerging future of work.