In March 2001 Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton brought a quiet revolution to the leadership world with the release of Managing With Carrots. Over the past decade it has gained momentum and has culminated in their latest project, The Orange Revolution.
This book is such an easy read, you can unintentionally skip over the amazing nuggets littered throughout its pages. It begins by whisking you away to an antiquated workshop where people are working happily and feverishly on a project. It wasn’t a reference to some Disney movie; it was the creative team of Thomas Edison as they were discovering the best filament for a long lasting light bulb.
As I turned each page, I found myself eaves dropping on the lives and thoughts of numerous teams and influential leaders. I got a sneak peek of how the Power of Orange has transformed organizations, teams, and individuals.
Adrian and Chester have developed a model that is nothing short of remarkable. Beginning with a Common Cause, each team must posses what they describe as the Basic 4 + Recognition. This Basic 4 consists of:
Goal Setting – Communication – Trust – Accountability
It is through these 4 basic qualities, plus recognition, that a team can be properly positioned to be what they term as a Breakthrough Team. Adrian and Chester have developed a set of ground rules for a Breakthrough Team which is referred to as the Rule of 3, and each is given its own chapter.
Wow – No Surprises – Cheer
Wow is explained quite well by a question in the book: “How are we going to impress each other?” It’s that commitment to do just 1% more than others to make a difference. A great analogy used by the authors was how water won’t boil at 211°F, but that 1° adjustment is what makes all the difference in the world.
No Surprises fosters the idea of open communication on the team. This is so much more than passing ideas around the table, it’s allowing freedom for conflict without causing offense. Squashing dissent stifles the flow of ideas and this lack of dialogue can easily interfere with meeting team goals.
My personal favorite was Cheer. Plenty of research was included in the entire book, but I believe it supported this section of the book the best. Cheer is nothing more than recognition…lavishly and enthusiastically. It’s more than the leader giving the proverbial “atta boy” or “atta girl”. It’s genuine and consistent praise within the team for accomplishments. Team members cheering the strengths of another team member. The leader cheering on individuals accomplishments. Members of the team praising the leader. An atmosphere of gratitude for others gets results and is a powerful motivator; this book shows that beautifully.
One of my personal pet hates is when you’re given direction on all the things you should be doing to correct something (the what), but are left seriously lacking on a way to do it (the how). I wasn’t disappointed in the least in this area. An entire chapter is dedicated to “101 Ways to Bring Your Team Together“. It is a list of examples and ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Some great stuff that looks like heaps of fun.
Viewing the entire organization as a team was such a great tie-in to the real heartbeat of the book. The idea of taking the micro view of having a revolutionary team through culture development was simply placed on a macro level. One of the most amazing things about the points made in The Orange Revolution is that it’s completely scalable. The authors didn’t just stop at the workplace. They talked about how the Power of Orange is more than just what you do at work; it’s a philosophy of how to do life.
One of the best points made in this book, in my opinion, was that Adrian and Chester equated family with a team. How common is it that we utilize certain skills at work and then leave them there when we go home? If we are cheering on others, finding positives to point out, setting team goals, making time to listen, using open communication, then why aren’t we doing the same thing in our personal lives with our families. I love confronting and provocative statements like these.
The authenticity throughout this book was refreshing. It wasn’t just some other how-to manual for managers. It genuinely offered a practical way to positively engage with others that not only accomplishes goals, but honors those around you as valuable human beings. This is definitely a revolution I can get behind because it champions valuing people as a catalyst for being a successful organization. It’s not some airy-fairy concept, it’s backed by solid research.
You can burn through this book in an afternoon and then keep it with you at work as an amazing reference tool. If you haven’t read this book yet, you are seriously missing the boat in a number of areas. Adrian and Chester brought their A-game on this project and I guarantee that you will get at least 3 things to take back to your team that will make a surprising difference. Enjoy becoming a part of The Orange Revolution!