Book Review: The Orange Revolution

How do you sustain a great working team?

Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton are experts in teamwork.  They've studied great teams and pulled their results apart.  And they've come up with a thorough, complex model.  (Seriously, 14 elements in the model) And The Orange Revolution shares some of their insights and recommendations.

Here're three elements in the model that I found helpful:

1) Wow

This element has to do with a results orientation.  Great teams are committed to achieving great results.  This really surprised me.  When I picture the keys to great teamwork, I picture hugs and high-fives and pats on the back, not a commitment to great results.

But there's something bonding about producing something special.  There's a high that comes with great performance and, when shared, this can become powerful glue for teams.

2) No surprises

This element has to do with communication.  Great teams talk honestly and openly and thoroughly.  That communication creates trust and preserves momentum.  Failures and breakdowns in communication accumulate over time, splitting teams into silos and sandbagging results.

3) Cheer

This element has to do with celebration.  And this is where Gostick and Elton really shine.  The Orange Revolution has a ton of ideas you can use to encourage your team.  And they explain clearly why cheering for each other leads to high performing teams.

Thoughts on the book ...

This book reads like someone recorded an excellent conference talk, but struggled with the change of medium.  The stories serve more like proofs than illustrations.  And the ideas ... think spaghetti on the wall.

Shape your reading of The Orange Revolution by these observations and it'll save you some headaches.  Try these one of these three approaches:
  1. Read the book very slowly, over the course of a year [this will allow you to eat all of the "spaghetti," not just the few strands that stick to the wall]
  2. Read the book, grab one idea, then move on [there are lots of other books, many that are more focused than this one ... use this one as a starting place ... you can always come back to it later]
  3. Find a way to see the authors in person (check here or watch here)

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