Skip to main content

Building Future-Ready Leaders: Developing Skills Across the Enterprise to Identify and Embrace New Growth Opportunities


For more than 60 years, W. L. Gore & Associates, has developed its leaders through experience. In 2013, when it was time for this renowned innovation company to refine its enterprise strategy, the CEO looked past her executive team members and placed responsibility for developing the corporate strategy with a group of emerging leaders. She envisioned these younger leaders growing into enterprise roles over the next decade and inheriting the strategy they helped create. Today, these individuals are in critical roles that identify and realize new growth opportunities across the enterprise. They are the stewards of innovation decisions and investments, and they are deeply informed through dynamic interactions with an unfolding future. In 2020, a second group of leaders learned futures skills through a new set of challenging experiences, and Gore created a more distributed way of engaging leaders in learning and applying strategic foresight to include individuals from all businesses, functions, regions, and age groups. In this interactive workshop, participants will explore how Gore partnered with the Institute for the Future to create intensive learning experiences for current and future leaders that transformed their experience with the future and that developed essential skills for identifying and embracing new growth opportunities, as well as developing approaches to address new threats. This session will reveal the design considerations, guided experiences, and support systems that led to these leaders mastering Strategic Foresight and Futures Thinking capabilities while shaping a new strategy for Gore.

This session content is grounded in scholarship on adult and executive learning and illustrated by futures concepts and experiences. Audience members will benefit from participating by:

  • Reviewing the experiential designs.
  • Engaging in some of the strategic foresight experiences, and
  • Exploring how this approach could enhance how they could build futures skills in their future leaders of innovation through designed experiences.


  • Debra France, W. L. Gore

    Dr. Debra France is a researcher and designer focused on leader and innovator development at W. L. Gore & Associates, an enterprise acknowledged for sustained innovation.

    Since it was founded in 1958, Gore has operated as a lattice organization to optimize innovation. Debra researches Gore’s organic processes and designs these principles into learning experiences, leadership practices, and organizational processes. For more than two decades Debra has led design teams that provide learning analysis and support for leaders, technologists and innovators. She was the Learning Leader for SEMATECH, the semiconductor manufacturing research consortium, and she led Executive and Management Development at Dell Computer. With a dissertation study on cultural practices that support innovation, she earned her doctorate from Columbia University in Leadership and Organizational Learning

  • Lyn Jeffery

    Lyn Jeffery leads IFTF’s Foresight Essentials program, supporting people, organizations, and communities to develop their own foresight capacities. A cultural anthropologist and an IFTF Distinguished Fellow, Lyn’s research explores how people make sense of the rapidly changing world around them, whether a “left-behind” child in a Sichuan village, an executive in a large multinational organization, or an amateur musician experimenting with new VR instruments. Lyn holds a BA in Chinese Studies and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has enduring interests in mobility, social media, collaborative technologies, and over thirty years of experience doing research in China.