The Orange Revolution: Drive for High Performing Teams

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Are you still looking for a way to energize your employees, associates or even virtual team members?

The Orange Revolution: How One Great Team Can Transform an Entire Organization shows you how building a successful and high-performing business doesn’t have to depend on some superstar celebrity CEO or high-flying entrepreneur.  Thriving businesses start with just one engaged and thriving work team!  After getting feedback from over 350,000 people, the authors outline the key characteristics of high performing teams and also identify the rules these power teams live by.

An Updated Team-Building Book for Today’s Work Environments

Back in the 1990s self-directed teams and team building was all the rage.  While I don’t follow every team-building book or article out there, it dawned on me that none had really crossed my path until I received a review copy of The Orange Revolution: How One Great Team Can Transform an Entire Organization. I was eager to read this book to see if team-building techniques or technologies had changed with the new world of work.

As it turns out, the desire for self-directed work teams hasn’t waned, but it seems that companies had a lot committed to what the authors called “faux” teams.  Faux teams exist in organizational charts alone. They are just labels placed on people and have nothing to do with how effectively they perform as a team.  “Employees aren’t fooled,” the authors write. “They continue to be groups or departments of people that have the blanket label of team thrown upon them.  Take a peek underneath and you’ll find a group of individuals largely fending for themselves.”

Why The Book Is Called Orange Revolution

The color orange is often associated with energy and change.  In fact, it’s been associated with several revolutions and uprisings in history; Ireland, China, England and the Ukraine.  The Orange Revolution, however, has no intention of toppling business.  Instead, this book seeks to rekindle the energy within the people of an organization to conquer barriers and produce results.

About the Authors

If you’re a fan of business culture books, then you may already be familiar with Adrian Gostick. He’s written several bestselling books on corporate culture, including The Levity Effect, The Integrity Advantage and most recently The Carrot Principle.

Chester Elton is also the co-author of The Carrot Principle and a motivation expert.  He’s been featured on 60 Minutes, CNN and National Public Radio.

Both authors are VPs at The Carrot Culture Group and have lots of practical experience with all kinds of teams.  They speak and consult around the world and collect and document the best team stories.  They also gather specific how-to employee engagement advice on what’s working and what isn’t.  You’ll have to check out their blogs – they are relevant, timely and often hilarious.

What Drives The Orange Revolution

Crack this book’s pages and you’ll be transported into a behind-the-scenes world of the actual teams behind some of the historical figures that we’ve known.  Our culture has a tendency to pick a historical figure and make him a big hero, when in fact, such figures typically had an entire cadre of engaged, inspired and energized people behind them.

The best example comes on the first actual page of the book.  It’s the story of Thomas Edison and the team he recruited to help him bring the light bulb to life.  Edison went out looking for men with a broad base of knowledge and a curiosity and passion for learning.  Then he put them into small teams.  He gave them a goal and then let them pursue it.  Here is a terrific quote pulled from a letter from one of the assistants who described his work as “strenuous but joyous:”

“The strangest thing to me is the $12 that I get each Saturday, for my labor does not seem like work, but like study.”

It’s this kind of engagement and enthusiasm that Gostick and Elton dig into throughout the book.

The Orange Revolution Model

As you might expect, there is an “Orange Revolution Team Model” that you can follow.

It all starts with “The Cause” that the team is committed to and inspired by. Then leads to “WOW,” a commitment to a high standard of world class performance.

The next stage is called ”No Surprises,” which means all team members are accountable for openness, honest debate and each knowing what to expect from the others.

Cheer”  is the level where team members support, recognize, appreciate and cheer others and the group on to victory.

The authors say that it only takes “the lightest touch by a leader to maintain success.”

The Orange Revolution breaks this model down into simple finite elements and gives you examples of how several organizations implemented these elements to create fantastic results.

What I Liked About The Orange Revolution

I loved the stories of the different teams – especially those that weren’t corporate teams.  I was inspired by the authentic leadership and true commitment to something bigger that each team was working toward.

This was an easy and fun book to read.  The authors have a smart style that builds characters and tells a story without sacrificing the important lessons inside.

Who Will Benefit From This Book and What They Will Take Away

Obviously company owners, CEOs and anyone in a leadership position is the targeted audience for this book.  But this is also a great book for those of us who are team members and followers.  One lesson that was reinforced for me in this book is that everyone has an equally important role in making a project happen – so we all need to be good leaders and good followers.

What You Won’t Get From The Orange Revolution

While this book does, indeed, have a team model and describes it very well, this is not a book that will teach you how to “DO” great teams.  This book only describes elements and shows examples.  I’m not sure that the average small business owner off the street could actually implement the program strictly using this book.

In fact, I would say that if you are currently doing some kind of team development, this book is a useful resource that you can use to overlay and enhance what you are already doing.

The Orange Revolution is a great book to pick up as a corporate gift for someone or even for yourself.  You’ll be able to read it over the weekend and put it to use, whether you work as part of a corporate team or a virtual team.  Once you finish the book, you’ll find yourself being a better leader and a better team member.

You can get updated team articles on Adrian Gostick’s blog and Chester Elton’s blog.  You can also follow them on Twitter  @adriangostick and @chesterelton.

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Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."

2 Reactions
  1. G’Day Ivana,
    Thanks for the review. Sounds as if “The Orange Revolution” is worth a read. I’ve been working in team development for 25 years. One of the things I’ve learned is that the team, not the individual, is the basic human unit in the workplace.

    Another is that, for effective team development you need to focus on team effectiveness not on relationships, People who work well together and succeed will learn to like each other.

    Teams exist in the workplace. They don’t need to be “built.” And successful team development is essential in successful small-medium business.

    You’ll find more of my views on

    Thanks again



  2. Leon,

    I have learned that all things in the workplace starts with the individual. Without individuals, you couldn’t create a team of co-workers. The biggest challenge I saw as a purchaser was that you didn’t look at the organization as an integrated body and that created departments of silos, fighting each other, instead of looking at the whole supply and value chain.

    Ivana: Do you have any tips on complimentary reading material for The Orange Revolution. I am reading Rework by Jason Fried and Start With Why by Simon Sinek at the moment.

No, Thank You