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2012 100 Best Companies best practices

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Articles - March 2012
Friday, March 02, 2012
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2012 100 Best Companies best practices
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Gorilla Capital

According to CEO John Helmick, more than half of Gorilla Capital’s 42 employees have purchased the company’s products for themselves. Considering that Gorilla buys distressed homes, remodels them and then puts them on the market, that’s no small commitment.

“That’s really encouraging to me, that the employees value our product, enough to buy them for themselves,” says Helmick, who founded Gorilla in 2006.

It’s also, to Helmick, just one of the many attractions that makes Gorilla a great place to work. The company, which has offices in six states, creates a homey, work-hard-play-hard environment at its headquarters, a 1912 craftsman house in Eugene. Employees enjoy snacks and lunches provided by the company, a healthy benefits package, annual team-building trips — this year’s is at Disneyland — and Gorilla-themed gear, from boxer shorts and slippers to water bottles and Snuggies.

Helmick says his employees tend to have an “agricultural work ethic” — when it’s time to work hard, they work hard. They also all have a voice at the company table, which has been part of Gorilla’s culture since day one.

“We realize we all have to trust one another and work hard together to be successful,” he says. “If we don’t do that, we’ll never get anything done.”



 

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Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

In this issue, we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not just about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

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