Book name: The Culture Code
Author: Daniel Coyle
Publisher: Random House Business
Format: Print, ebook, audiobook
Genre: Self help, popular psychology
Publication Date: 2019
Star Rating: 4/5
The blurb for The Culture Code lingers long on the expectations of the self-help business subgenre, but (as I got into reading it) I realised that it was really about building team environments that work more generally, including volunteering, family and friends.
In fact, it was about how you choose to behave in every interaction you have and what the likely consequences will be. I found it fascinating.
I picked up The Culture Code at a local second-hand bookshop, Barter Books, which exchanges old books for credit. That’s where I get a lot of the books for this blog.
Sometimes, I just want to explore something different. When I’ve got some credit for old books, I quite often browse in sections I don’t often visit and pick out something out of my usual reading pattern.
The Culture Code uses practical examples of corporate and other behaviour to illustrate how doing something different or inventive can influence the way that others respond to us.
It also talks about how to build on that behaviour to create and then sustain a team (in any context) that is more likely to achieve your goals.
One of the key distinctions it makes is between behaviour in groups aiming for proficiency (such as a really well-run restaurant) versus aiming for creativity (such as Pixar).
The descriptions and insights are generally quite lengthy, which is helpful because it really gives you the chance to reflect in detail on what has worked and what hasn’t.
Many of the examples came from outside business. Lots were drawn from sports, where building a strong team is central to success.
Other examples included schools excelling within challenging communities, comedy groups that thrived and, perhaps surprisingly, briefly a discussion about a group of jewel thieves.
The variety of these examples helped me to understand that the principles elucidated in The Culture Code could be of help in personal situations as well as at work, and that they would also be effective in self-employment as a sole worker engaging with your customers or running your own business where you have lots of staff.
I’m not much of a one for the self-help genre, and the business subgenre can be particularly full of glib phrases. But The Culture Code felt like a stand-out example in this subgenre.
This was in part because the social science behind its advice and conclusions was discussed at length. There were good reasons for the achievements it highlighted, rooted deep in our psyche.
It was obvious that a lot of hard work and expertise had gone into writing it, and the style was very pleasing.
Some of its conclusions felt surprising, but they were amply explained and thoroughly justified.
Mostly this was about how leadership in business or beyond is often not about the kind of principles that traditional business textbooks have suggested, but is evolving to be more about empowering via example and through expounding core values.
I found The Culture Code very interesting, well written and thorough. It was accessible while being rigorous at the same time.
Thank you for reading my review.
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If you’ve enjoyed this review, you might be interested reading in my review of Life Isn’t Binary by Meg-John Barker and Alessandra Iantaffi.
Or you might like to take a look at my review of The Psychology of High Abilities by Michael J Howe.
If you fancy something different, you might like to take a chance on my review of Tales from the Green Valley.