The Orange Revolution

Morgan O'Rourke


November 1, 2010

From the brilliant researchers at Thomas Edison's Menlo Park laboratory to the irreverent employees of online shoe retailer, great teams have been the driving force behind some of the business world's greatest successes. But what makes a team so effective? In an effort to answer this, authors Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, who also wrote the popular book The Carrot Principle, turned to a new survey of 350,000 people around the world to help determine the characteristics of successful teams and determine how these attributes can be applied to create similar results in any business.

What Gostick and Elton found was that in order to become what they call a "breakthrough" team, employees need to be more than just competent-they also need to be engaged. That means they are committed to the common cause, willing to deliver world-class results (the "wow" factor), communicate directly and honestly and actively support their fellow team members. For the cynical reader, this may sound a little too cute, like the hollow pep talk of your typical motivational speaker. But Gostick and Elton back up their assertions with compelling data that shows that when these objectives are met, workplace satisfaction, and therefore success, increases. And to further illustrate these points, the authors include interesting real-life stories, such as how the crew of a damaged Australian submarine averted disaster by working together or how the NBA's marketing team was able to help substantially increase league attendance and revenue in a previously flat market by improving their group dynamic. Each example further underlines the idea that organizations that promote teamwork are better off for it.

The Orange Revolution is so named because orange has frequently been a color associated with change, whether it is the color adopted by Ukrainian protesters, or simply representative of the changing autumn leaves. Similarly, the authors hope to spark their own revolution in the business world by encouraging employees to work-and achieve-as a team.

Morgan O’Rourke is editor in chief of Risk Management and director of publications for the Risk & Insurance Management Society, Inc. (RIMS)