The Culture Code

The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle

THIS is the book I was looking for on building and improving culture among a team. Probably one of my favorite books this year as the author combines interesting research and stories with practical take aways and tips on creating your own dynamic team culture. Incredible book on leadership, management and being a part of a team. I highly recommend.

Here are my highlights from the book:

  • Why do certain groups add up to be greater than the sum of their parts, while others add up to be less?

  • We focus on what we can see—individual skills. But individual skills are not what matters. What matters is the interaction.

  • Jonathan’s group succeeds not because its members are smarter but because they are safer.

  • They emerged because they are obsessively on the lookout for danger.

  • “He delivers two things over and over: He’ll tell you the truth, with no bullshit, and then he’ll love you to death.”

  • “We could see, just through the frequency, without knowing where they sat, who was on each floor. We were really surprised at how rapidly it decayed” when they moved to a different floor. “It turns out that vertical separation is a very serious thing. If you’re on a different floor in some organizations, you may as well be in a different country.”

  • In other words, proximity functions as a kind of connective drug. Get close, and our tendency to connect lights up.

  • Studies show that digital communications also obey the Allen Curve; we’re far more likely to text, email, and interact virtually with people who are physically close.

  • The leaders of the All-Blacks rugby team have formalized this habit into a team value called “sweeping the sheds.” Their leaders do the menial work, cleaning and tidying the locker rooms—and along the way vividly model the team’s ethic of togetherness and teamwork.

  • If you never have that vulnerable moment, on the other hand, then people will try to cover up their weaknesses, and every little microtask becomes a place where insecurities manifest themselves.”

  • Anybody have any ideas?

  • Leaping into the unknown, when done alongside others, causes the solid ground of trust to materialize beneath our feet.

  • “The real courage is seeing the truth and speaking the truth to each other.

  • the habit of regularly eating lunch in the Bell Labs cafeteria with a quiet Swedish engineer named Harry Nyquist.

  • I’m the person on the side listening and asking questions. They’re usually questions that might seem obvious or simple or unnecessary. But I love asking them because I’m trying to understand what’s really going on.”

  • “There’s a spirit of provocation constantly at play, to nudge, to help us think beyond what’s immediately in front of us. And it usually starts with questioning the big obvious things. It’s never confrontational—she never says, ‘You’re doing the wrong thing.’ It’s organic, embedded in conversation.”

  • “What Roshi does requires a critical understanding of what makes people tick, and what makes people tick isn’t always being nice to them.

  • 6 percent of verbal interactions, they generate 60 percent of ensuing discussions.

  • Make Sure the Leader Is Vulnerable First and Often:

  • I screwed that up are the most important words any leader can say.

  • His vulnerability isn’t weakness; it’s his strength.

  • What is one thing that I currently do that you’d like me to continue to do?

  • What is one thing that I don’t currently do frequently enough that you think I should do more often?

  • What can I do to make you more effective?

  • If you have negative news or feedback to give someone—even as small as a rejected item on an expense report—you are obligated to deliver that news face-to-face.

  • The most important part of creating vulnerability often resides not in what you say but in what you do not say.

  • Skilled listeners do not interrupt with phrases like Hey, here’s an idea or Let me tell you what worked for me in a similar situation because they understand that it’s not about them.

  • Build a Wall Between Performance Review and Professional Development:

  • They were better at figuring out what they needed to do themselves than I could ever be.”

  • Making the charitable assumption

  • “You have priorities, whether you name them or not,”

  • “If you want to grow, you’d better name them, and you’d better name the behaviors that support the priorities.”

  • selection of employees based on emotional capabilities, respectful treatment of employees, and management through a simple set of rules that stimulate complex and intricate behaviors benefiting customers.”

  • Creating engagement around a clear, simple set of priorities can function as a lighthouse, orienting behavior and providing a path toward a goal.

  • The road to success is paved with mistakes well handled.

  • This is because he realizes that (1) the teams are in a better position to solve problems, and (2) a suggestion from a powerful person tends to be followed.

  • Hire people smarter than you. Fail early, fail often. Listen to everyone’s ideas. Face toward the problems. B-level work is bad for your soul. It’s more important to invest in good people than in good ideas.

  • Catmull doesn’t steer the ship—he roves around belowdecks, checking the hull for leaks, changing out a piston, adding a little oil here and there. “For me, managing is a creative act,” he says. “It’s problem solving, and I love doing that.”

  • “You have to go through some failures and some screw-ups, and survive them, and support each other through them. And then after that happens, you really begin to trust one another.”

  • This is why it’s necessary to drastically over communicate priorities.

  • became part of the oxygen.

  • We adopted a “What Worked Well/Even Better If” format for the feedback sessions: