WIRED 7.08 MUST READ

MANAGING

Some Like It Hot (Hot Groups in management)

Managers love to prattle on about teamwork and cooperation, but the truly effective groups, according to Jean Lipman-Blumen and Harold Leavitt, aren't the touchy-feely squads that managers talk about building. In fact, the authors write in Hot Groups, business leaders should cultivate and reward small, enterprising teams that are task obsessed and out for themselves.

- Brad Wieners

What is a hot group? Is it just a sexy term for team?

It is not a name, but a state of mind - that contagious single-mindedness and all-out dedication to doing something important. Hot groups are not appointed. They happen. The biggest thing is to recognize them and support them. Most organizations stamp them out because they don't conform to the bureaucracy or org chart.

What are the signs that a hot group is forming?

It's when people start doing things beyond what's required of them - that's one of the distinctions you see. In many teams, you'll see people looking carefully to make sure they aren't being asked to do any more than anyone else. In hot groups, people turn each other on. They do work on their own and bring it to the group - like intellectual gifts. Another thing they do is cheat. They'll use next year's resources for this year's project.

No offense, but hot groups don't seem very new.

Hot groups are not new, but they are right for today's hectic game of coping with volatile, mostly unpredictable, and lightning-fast change. The basic point of view of most organizational development people has been that if you want a group to function well, start out by developing trust and interpersonal understanding. Hot groups don't do it that way. They start with a task and work back to relationships. Very many hot groups will work like hell to finish a project and say good-bye to one another without having developed any strong emotional bonds.

If I want to cultivate hot groups, where do I start?

Selection is the most important. Diversity is of great value. And forget about more on-the-job training - that's a great conformist tool. You need to change the climate. We ran into a middle manager at Intel and he told us about a dinner he held each quarter for the best failure of the quarter. That's great. The idea is to reward risk. You know soon enough if it's not going to work out.

http://www.achievingstyles.com/articles/hot_groups_hbr.asp

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/7.08/mustread_pr.html