Wednesday 19 September 2007

Hot Spots

This is the session I've really been looking forward to.  I first saw Lynda Gratton when she presented on Living Strategy in 2000? and was so infused about what she was saying that I decided I wanted to move back into strategic HR consulting and work on this agenda.  Then in the consultancy I went to work for, we asked her to present on the Democratic Enterprise at one of our client events.

I also quote substantially from her books in mine.

I've already bought a copy of Lynda's new book, Hot Spots, but haven't read it yet, so this post focuses purely on her presentation and I my blog on her book at a later date.

Only 15-20% of employees in most organisations say that their organisation inspires the very best of them.  Lynda's work on hot spots originated by asking what would help get this up to say 40%.  This is a bit like an organisational version of Czichzentmihalyi's flow.

This means we need to understand what inspires us.  Discussing this situation in the room created a good buzz, a bit like the energy created in an Appreciative Inquiry session.

People felt exhilerated, passionate, lively, unified...  And they respected and trusted in the other people around them.

But this isn't a country club.  It also needs a co-operative mindset and a group of people with different perspectives (which provides David Rock's social connectedness). And something to ignite the latent energy in the group.  And leaders who are skills in supporting increasingly diverse, virtual teams of people who are increasingly volunteers, working in increasingly complex environments.

Hot spots are emergent, they can't be forced through command and control (Gerry Robinson might struggle to create them).  All we can do is create the environment for them to flourish.

A couple of ideas:

-   Senior execs need to co-operate with each other.  Otherwise their dysfunctionality feeds all the way down the organisation.  (I can think of a very good example of an organisation like this!). Lynda strngly recommends that people should not work for organisations like this.  If nothing else, doing so is bad for people's health.

-   Don't bother fiddling around with reward systems.  Group based reward makes no difference at all to co-operation within a team (however the wrong rewards can be a barrier to this).

-   Find ways for people with different perspectives and who don't know each other to work together (and Lynda thinks it may be easier to manage diverse teams on the web vs face-to-face - see my post on business and Second Life).

-   Ensure leaders are asking interesting questions.  For example John Browne asking how BP could be a force for good.  Or Greg Dyke' approach at the BBC.

-   Design tasks and jobs that are potential points of ignition (complex, ambiguous and meaningful).

-   Ensure teams can appreciate each others' talents, make commitments, resolve contacts, synchronise time and establish a rhythm (to avoid burn-out).

Lynda is building a movement around hot spots.  Get involved at


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