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R&D evaluation tools at W.L.Gore

W.L. Gore & Associates, best known as the developer of GORE-TEX® fabrics, is a $1.2 billion company. It develops innovative fluoropolymer products for applications in next-generation electronics, medical implants, and high-performance fabrics. Gore has repeatedly been named one of the '100 Best Companies to Work for in America.' Its culture is acclaimed as a model for organizations seeking growth by unleashing creativity and fostering team-work.

The Challenge

W.L. Gore & Associates, best known as the developer of GORE-TEX® fabrics, is a $1.2 billion company. It develops innovative fluoropolymer products for applications in next-generation electronics, medical implants, and high-performance fabrics. Gore has repeatedly been named one of the '100 Best Companies to Work for in America.' Its culture is acclaimed as a model for organizations seeking growth by unleashing creativity and fostering team-work.

Why Analytica?

According to project leader, Joseph DiGiacomo, Gore chose Analytica because it offers (1) representation of uncertainties, with Monte Carlo for probabilistic simulation and sensitivity analysis, (2) transparency by providing a visual interface and well-documented model structure, and (3) scalability with flexibility and modularity to allow it to "grow without growing out of control".

The Solution

Gore has developed a standard process employing Analytica with a common framework for reviewing R&D projects. Each project has a "Facilitator" who is a champion of the assessment process, with skills in modeling and guiding the process. He facilitates an interdisciplinary "Core team" of experts that gather data, understand the context, and generate the development options to be evaluated. The process characterizes the uncertainty to understand the overall risks, and analyzes sensitivities using a tornado diagram to clarify which uncertain inputs make the most difference. The team finally presents the results to senior R&D executives for project review. Because the modeling framework has already been tested and approved, time is not wasted challenging methodology. If there are questions, executives can review the underlying assumptions and their sources in the model.

For More

See "Forecasting R&D Project Performance: W.L. Gore's Journey" J. DiGiacomo, D. Sheinberg, and R. Sonnenblick, Journal of Business Forecasting, Spring 2003.