Culture Code by Daniel Coyle

Rate: 5/5

Medium: Audiobook

Overview (No Spoilers):

While I prefer fantasy novels, I usually attempt to balance my reading list with nonfiction and recently have been on a bit of a leadership kick. Coyle’s Culture Code is easily my favorite book I’ve read that is geared toward management. I’ve sat on this review for months and not for a reason that you would expect. I find that I think about this book almost daily at work and I’m still mulling over its advice and planning a reread in my near future. Actually I can see Culture Code as being a title I might revisit annually as I wholeheartedly agree with how Coyle recommends cultivating a productive and creative culture in the workplace. As such, I hadn’t formulated my review yet because I keep mulling it over on a routine basis. 

The first point that Coyle emphasizes is creating a safe workplace. Coyle follows up his guidelines with scientific studies or real life examples of his talking points being implemented. I’ve worked a wide variety of jobs, with my worst job (that shall remain nameless) having the more harmful work culture I’ve personally experienced. Every interaction with the management level had to be captured in an email to act as a safeguard in case there was a mistake down the road because it would 100% be blamed back on the analyst. That kind of pressure killed any kind of personal innovation or motivation as again, those could be sources of targeting down the road. My current job couldn’t be more opposite as management and staff support each other and mistakes are freely admitted, allowing room to grow and learn. In contrast, the production level and personal creativity are on a completely different level compared to the first job where one had to always be on guard. 

Aiding in growing this healthy environment involves having the manager share vulnerabilities. That way the group as a whole is comfortable sharing risks and it helps build a sense of belonging as a group. By getting the group to buy in and feel ownership of projects, you again have happier employees who enjoy what they are working on, especially when it’s a shared goal or established purpose. I know I’m blurring together many of Coyle’s talking points, which is more evidence that I need a reread. Interestingly, Ed Catmull, who wrote Creative, Inc., made it into one of Coyle’s examples, further cementing how fascinating I find Disney and Pixar’s former President. 

Overall, Coyle has collected a series of thought-provoking ingredients to brew a work environment that yields simultaneously happier and more productive employees in Culture Code.

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