We’ve been reading a lot of books that have to do with culture building, nurturing, etc. In particular, we are interested in every aspect of how to create a place where people feel respected. Where they feel “safe” making mistakes and encouraged to make great stuff happen.
The list below is ordered chronologically, as we became aware of and read each book. Whenever possible, we mention the person who recommended the book to us.
Have you read any interesting book about culture that you’d like to share with us? Please, add your comment below.
What We’ve Learned So Far
There’s a lot of interest and energy around the issue of group culture. They all seem to gravitate around similar concepts, even when one book emphasizes one over another.
A common theme is that people want more than “just a job.” When they find “it,” they give it their all. When a group of people find “it” together, they can accomplish some pretty amazing things.
- The Seven Day Weekend, by Ricardo Semler. Recommended by Adrian Perez.
- Maverick, by Ricardo Semler. Recommended by Adrian Perez.
“The Seven Day Weekend” is the book that crystallized the whole thing for us; “Maverick” simply nailed it to the board. We were already going in the direction of running the company as openly and democratically as possible, but Ricardo Semler’s books helped put a framework around it.
- Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration, by Keith Sawyer.
Based on solid research, this book debunks a bunch of myths about where great ideas come from (“the lonely inventor in his barn… NOT!”). From our perspective, it makes a really convincing argument for encouraging, and investing in, the genius of teams. It also outlines a techniques for doing so.
- Peak, How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow, by Chip Conley.
Chip Conley really nailed it by recognizing that Maslow’s work offers a great organizing principle for this topic.
So far, so good. The authors make the argument that people tend to gather in groups or tribes. Each tribe has a unique culture that can be characterized as “life sucks,” “my life sucks,” “I am great,” “we’re great” and “life is great.”
- The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary, by Joseph Michelli.
Next In Line
- The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, by Jonathan Haidt. Recommended by Tony Hsieh. Here’s the book’s home.
- Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t, by Jim Collins.
- Rules for Renegades: How to Make More Money, Rock Your Career, and Revel in Your Individuality, by Christine Comaford-Lynch.