Hot Groups: Seeding Them, Feeding Them, and Using Them to Ignite Your Organization

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Many corporations, in their attempt to create innovative products and services, have focused on the concept of building teams. While many groups fizzle, on rare occasions the members of a group will experience an extraordinary eruption of excitement, transcending an organization's rigid confines to achieve astonishing results. These individuals, say Jean Lipman-Blumen and Harold J. Leavitt, are lucky enough to be members of a "hot group," a phenomenon they lucidly and enthusiastically describe in their ground-breaking new book Hot Groups.
A hot group is not a name for a newfangled team, task force, or committee. Rather, a hot group is defined by a distinctive state of mind coupled with a style of behavior that is intense and sharply focused on its ultimate goal. Stretching themselves beyond their own expectations, members of a hot group plunge into enterprises that have the potential to change, even ennoble, their own and others' lives.
Neither trendy fabrication nor new management fad, hot groups have existed since the dawn of civilization, perhaps invigorating groups of cavemen to hunt together furiously for food before winter's approach. Today, examples of hot groups abound in territories such as Silicon Valley, where impassioned people have blazed paths through the burgeoning computer industry. Consider the hot group that created the original Macintosh and revolutionized the personal computer market. John Sculley, who joined Apple in the early 1980s, described a "magnetic field" that surrounded the Macintosh hot group members, and Bill Gates, Microsoft's mastermind, reported that a hot programming group to which he once belonged "didn't obey a 24-hour clock." Instead, they programmed for days at a time, pausing only to eat and talk about software with fellow programmers. Here also are examples of hot groups at work in other industries: the individuals that created the blockbuster TV drama "Hill Street Blues"; the Navy and civilian personnel that transformed a standard cruiser into a guided missile cruiser in less than 12 months; and even the ad hoc crisis management group advising President John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile crisis. Indeed, the inspiring case studies found throughout Hot Groups illustrate that well-nourished hot groups can profoundly transform any type of organization.
Still, Lipman-Blumen and Leavitt recognize the risks inherent in loosening an organization's structural soil enough to accommodate these groups. Consequently, they address such issues as how to provide the kind of leadership required by a hot group, how to mesh a hot group with the regimented structure of the overall corporation, how managers can encourage new hot groups, and how best to cope with an overheated hot group.
Drawing on decades of research and experience with groups and organizations throughout the world, Lipman-Blumen and Leavitt have written an intensely engaging book about a phenomenon that will become increasingly important in our rapidly changing world. Expertly carving a path through this unmapped terrain, they lucidly demonstrate how managers and executives can ignite hot group sparks in their own organizations.

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Editorial Reviews

Teresa McUsic
Lipman-Blumen and Leavitt present a thorough and detailed discussion of hot groups, a new term but not a new concept....The authors have a timely premise and identify a group that may be down the hall just waiting for a chance to light a fire under your organization.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
From the Publisher

"Captures the attributes of intense, task dominated teams that energize both individual and organizational effectiveness in doing what han't been done before."

"Jean Lipman-Blumen and Hal Leavitt take the reader into the world of 'hot groups', a world they know so well but remains allusive to most of us. Lipman-Blumen and Leavitt dissect the inner workings of 'hot groups' with their boundless energy, creativity and crystal clear sense of mission. This book will drive most readers to search for their own 'hot group' experience, whether it's to be found in their work, community or family. An extraordinarily relevant book for our dynamic but chaotic times." --Robert C. Fisher, Schroder & Co. Inc.

"Hot Groups makes a passionate case for injecting strategic disorder into disciplined organizations. Packed with information, it is clearly written, superbly organized and entirely original. Anyone who has an interest in fostering quick and real organizational change to confront a rapidly transforming world will want to read it and refer to it." --Barry Munitz, The J. Paul Getty Trust

"A new buzz term has just been spawned. It's called "hot groups" and was coined by Jean Lipman-Blumen and Harold J. Leavitt in their recently published book.... A hot group is a group that is totally passionate about a task...Although unnamed until now, hot groups have always existed. But, with a marked demand for innovation and new products and technology, they're more important than ever."--Bob Weinstein, The Washington Times

"Drawing on decades of research and experience working with groups and organizations s throughout the world, these renowned authors have written a provocative book detailing how small, egalitarian, disordered "hot groups" can bring about revolutionary change. Essential reading for senior executives, managers responsible for bringing about organizational change, and business scholars."--Social & Behavioral Sciences

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195126860
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 5/20/1999
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Jean Lipman-Blumen and Hal Leavitt have worked together for many years. Jean is the Thornton F. Bradshaw Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University. Co-director of The Institute for Advanced Studies in Leadership, she has served as Director of the Women's Research Program at the National Institute of Education and as special advisor to the domestic policy staff of the Carter administration. Her recent book The Connective Edge received wide acclaim. Hal is the Kilpatrick Professor Emeritus at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he directed the Stanford Executive Program. He has also taught at INSEAD in France and London Business School. He is the author of Corporate Pathfinders and Managerial Psychology, now in its 5th edition and 18th language.

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Table of Contents

Pt. I Hot Groups: What They Are and Why They're Hot
Ch. 1 The Hot Group State of Mind: What Is It? Where Is.It? Why Does It Matter? 3
Ch. 2 Hot Groups: Why Now? 17
Ch. 3 How Hot Groups Think: Left Brain? Right Brain? How About Both? 35
Ch. 4 How Hot Groups Work: Fast, Focused, and Wide Open 49
Pt. II Who Leads Hot Groups? And Who Seeds New Ones?
Ch. 5 Leaders of Hot Groups I: Three Kinds of Leadership 79
Ch. 6 Leaders of Hot Groups II: Some Options for the Leader of a New Group 99
Ch. 7 Leaders of Hot Groups III: Leaders Who Seed Many Crops of Hot Groups 125
Pt. III How Do Hot Groups Operate?
Ch. 8 Hot Groups' Structures and Strategies: How Do We Get There from Here? 147
Ch. 9 Hot Groups and the Organization: A Marriage of Inconvenience? 165
Ch. 10 Using Hot Groups to Improve the Organization: Some More Marriage Counseling 177
Ch. 11 Why Some Hot Groups Fizzle While Others Sizzle: Four Cautionary Tales 191
Ch. 12 Hot Groups and the Individual: What's in It for Me? And What's Not? 211
Ch. 13 The Organizational Surround I: Where and When Do Hot Groups Thrive? 225
Ch. 14 The Organizational Surround II: Hot Groups Also Grow in Unexpected Places 239
Pt. IV An Optimistic View of What's Ahead
Ch. 15 Things Change at Different Speeds 253
Ch. 16 Differential Rates of Change Augur Glad Tidings 265
Notes 283
Index 291
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