- Hardcover: 232 pages
- Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers (February 11, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781576754184
- ISBN-13: 978-1576754184
- ASIN: 1576754189
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.8 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,225,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Hot Spots: Why Some Teams, Workplaces, and Organizations Buzz with Energy # and Others Don't Hardcover – February 11, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
What organization wouldn't want to encourage "places and times where cooperation flourishes, thus creating great energy, innovation, productivity and excitement"? This final volume in a trilogy of books on creating energy at work by London Business School professor Gratton (after Living Strategy and The Democratic Enterprise) attempts to analyze the ingredients of positive workplace energy. Gratton details ways to foster a cooperative mindset, remove boundaries between people, give them a sense of purpose and increase their productive capacity, drawing on examples from organizations like BP and Nokia. But despite her interesting and well-organized findings, some readers may find her intensive focus on scientific research too academic, particularly the complicated diagrams and formulae for workplace qualities that are difficult to quantify. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“Lynda Gratton offers creative insights into how to energize and humanize organizations. Hot Spots is a user’s manual for the organization of the future. It integrates perceptive theory and practical advice.”
—Dave Ulrich, Professor, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan and
Partner, The RBL Group
"You have to collaborate to compete in the global economy. Hot Spots is a practical and insightful guide to the new collaborative reality.”
—Laura Tyson, Professor of Economics and Business Administration, Haas School of Business, University of California at Berkeley
“Great companies buzz with energy and innovation. In this provocative and thought provoking book, Professor Gratton shows just how important this is—and how something so ethereal can be understood and acted upon with rigor. A must-read for every practicing manager.”
—Professor Gary Hamel, author of the bestsellers Leading the Revolution and Competing for the Future and Director of the Management Innovation Lab at London Business School
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The good news is that each chapter ends with a concise one-page summary. That makes it possible to skim the whole book in about 15 minutes, coming away with its essential points.
Hidden beneath the slick packaging is deep and meticulous research on a broad selection of teams, conducted by a first-rate academic. So don't settle for the quick skim. The whole book is only 200 pages; drilling down into the detail is worth the effort and not all that hard.
Key takeaways include the role of gender in teams (a critical mass of female members can enhance team success), and the way a few highly-functioning teams can influence an entire organization. There's plenty of intelligent guidance about implementation along the way.
Those whom Gratton calls "boundary spanners" are very important because they break down the "walls" between in-groups and out-groups. They have a network of relationships that form a natural bridge between the two groups. (Chesbrough calls them "innovation intermediaries.") In a boundaryless organization, people feel energized and vibrantly alive. Their brains buzz with ideas as they share with others the joy and excitement of "exploiting and applying knowledge that is already known and genuinely exploring what was previously unknown." Relationships between and among those involved create a Hot Spot.
"One of the most profound insights about Hot Spots is that their innovative capacity arises from the intelligence, insights, and wisdom of people working together. The energy contained in a Hot Spot is essentially a combination of their individual energy with the addition of the relational energy generated between them." Hence the importance of (a) having a "cooperative mindset," (b) "boundary spanners," (c) "igniting purpose," and (d) sustaining sufficient "productive capacity." Gratton acknowledges that there is much of substantial value to be learned by examining best practices in exemplary companies (e.g. BP, PgilvyOne, Nokia, and Linux)but also other types of practices, notably what she characterizes as "signature processes" which embody a given organization's character. They arise from passions and interests within the organization. Whereas best practices "bring the outside in," signature processes "bring the inside out."
To Gratton's great credit, after identifying the "what" in the Introduction and Chapters 1 and 2, she focuses most of her attention on "how" and "why" in the remaining six chapters. I also appreciate the provision of information in three appendices, especially in the first ("Resources for Creating Hot Spots"). And I especially appreciate Gratton's decision to want until the final chapter before explaining how to design (or re-design) an organization in which Hot Spots "emerge." The process consists of five phases best revealed within Gratton's narrative (i.e. in context) but I do presume to suggest that Hot Spots are inevitable and can exist anywhere, both physically and electronically. The challenge is to encourage and support them without institutionalizing ("housebreaking") them. That is a very real danger, one which Bob Taylor obviously recognized when he insisted that the Xerox Corporation allow him to establish - with unlimited funding -- the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) which those at Xerox's corporate headquarters (in Connecticut) viewed as a "renegade" think tank. In fact, Taylor and his associates conceptualized the very notion of the desktop computer, long before IBM launched its PC, and it laid the foundation for Microsoft Windows with a prototype graphical user interface of icons and layered screens. Even the technology that makes it possible for these words to appear on the screen can trace its roots to Xerox's eccentric band of innovators. It is possible but highly unlikely that any of this could have been achieved, had the research center been absorbed within the Xerox corporate culture in the 1970s.
Guided and informed by Gratton's observations and recommendations, senior-level executives will be well-prepared to provide the leadership needed to avoid or overcome barriers to innovation within their organizations by nurturing a cooperative mindset, encouraging and supporting those who are "boundary spanners," igniting purpose at all levels and in all areas throughout the given enterprise, and - as a result -- sustain sufficient "productive capacity."
Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out two of Gratton's earlier works, Living Strategy: Putting People at the Heart of Corporate Purpose and The Democratic Enterprise: Liberating Your Business with Freedom, Flexibility, and Commitment. Also When Sparks Fly: Harnessing the Power of Group Creativity by Dorothy Leonard-Barton and Walter C. Swap, Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration by Warren G. Bennis and Patricia Ward Biederman, and Juice: The Creative Fuel That Drives World-Class Inventors by Evan I. Schwartz.
I had never realized that this would be the subject of academic study, or that it could be managed to occur as part of a regular business environment. Ms Gratton says that there are four criteria that must come together to make a Hot Spot work:
A cooperative mindset: when people are excited, willing, eager and able to work together
Boundary spanning: with people fromdifferent backgrounds, skill sets, and outlooks combine their expertise in new ways
Igniting purpose: there must be a question, task, vision that creates a shared goal
Productive capacity: people must be able to work together, resolve conflicts, and manage the rhythm and pace of their work.
Hot Spots can not be created, but must emerge; leadership, however, can create the right circumstances to allow a Hot Spot to come to life, focusing on practices, processes, norms, or behaviors; the book provides maps and scenarios that reveal how such levers work.
A Hot Spot is a multiplicative blending of three elements:
1. a cooperative mindset (melding intellectual, social, and emotional capital),
2. boundary spanning (the depth and extent of relationships), and
3. an igniting purpose which stems from energizing questions, visions or tasks,
Hot Spots are sustained by a fourth element, productive capacity, consisting of five productive practices: appreciating talent, making commitments, resolving conflicts, synchronizing time, and establishing a rhythm.
Based on extensive research, the author explores the dynamic nature and elements of Hot Spots. The book's Appendix A provides diagnostic questions and instruments for leaders to apply in practice. The concept of Hot Spots is brought into sharp focus in this fascinating book. The author's insights make for compelling reading. If innovation is important to you, this book is MUST READING. Highly recommended.