Book Review: 'The Orange Revolution' by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton
The Orange Revolution: HowOne Great Team Can Transform an Entire Organization Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton Free Press/Simon & Schuster (2010)
Those who have read any of Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton’s previous collaborations, notably Managing with Carrots: Using Recognition to Attract and Retain the Best People (2001) and The Carrot Principle: How Great Managers Use Employee Recognition (2007), already know that they have exceptional reasoning and writing skills, their observations and recommendations are research/evidence-driven, and they are world-class pragmatists, determined to know what works in the business world, what doesn’t, and why so that they can share what they have learned with as many people as possible.
In The Orange Revolution, they share the results of a 350, 000 person survey (involving participants from 28 different industries) to identify the characteristics of the most effective teams. By now, we know a great deal about great non-athletic teams such the Disney animators who created so many film classics (e.g. Snow White, Pinocchio, Bambi, and Dumbo), the Manhattan Project, Lockheed’s “Skunk Works,” and Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).
In fact, some of the most important business books written in recent years have focused on teamwork and they include several written by these authors: Chip and Dan Heath (Switch), Jon Katzenbach (The Wisdom of Teams and Managing Outside the Lines), John Kotter (A Sense of Urgency and Buy-In), Patrick Lencioni (The Five Dysfunctions of a Team), and James O’Toole (Leading Change). All are worthy of careful consideration as primary sources for teams involved in change initiatives. One or more should be read in combination with any of Gostick and Elton’s books
So, why another book on change? No other book of which I am aware, on the subject of breakthrough teams, is driven by research/evidence to the extent this one is. Nor is there a book of which I am aware that explains more thoroughly than this one does what motivates members of breakthrough teams. In The Orange Revolution, Gostick and Elton limit their attention to such teams. (You know when I think about it, ALL teams should achieve breakthroughs to ensure that their organization remains competitive.) They base their observations, insights, and recommendations on the results of the aforementioned survey. “What we found was unexpected – and eye-opening. We were able to statistically establish a pattern of characteristics displayed by members of the best teams, as well as a set of rules that great teams live by. Even more rewarding was the realization that these qualities could be shared with other teams.”
Gostick and Elton cite hundreds of real-world situations, many of which feature exemplary organizations that are consistently ranked among the best to work for, the most highly admired, etc. It is no coincidence that they are also among the most profitable with the greatest cap value within their respective industries. For example, American Express, Best Companies Group, Friendly Ice Cream Corporation, Medical City Dallas Hospital, Nash Finch Company, NBA, Royal Australian Navy, and Zappos.
I highly recommend this book to leaders in organizations in which there is an urgent need for what can be accomplished by breakthrough teamwork. The wider, higher, further, and deeper that teamwork extends, the greater the number and impact of the breakthroughs that result from results-driven, highly-motivated collaborators who, in Teresa Amabile’s widely-quoted words, “do what they love and love what they do.”
In my opinion, this is the best book that Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton have written…thus far. They invite those who read this book to visit http://carrots.com/ to obtain several free resources: “The Orange White Paper: Teamwork and Your Bottom Line,” “Weekly Esprit de Corps: Fresh Cheering Ideas in Your Inbox,” “Film #1: WOW,” “Film #2: No Surprises,” and “Film #3: Cheer.”
Editor's note: This review was written by Robert Morris and has been published with his permission.Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.