Book:  The Culture Code

Author:  Daniel Coyle

Purchase:  PrinteBookAudiobook

Citation:  Coyle, D. (2018). The culture code: the secrets of highly successful groups. New York: Bantam Books.

Three Big Takeaways:

  • Highly successful cultures capitalize on threshold moments. When we enter a new group, our brains decide quickly whether to connect. Successful cultures make these moments as special as possible. (pg. 86)

  • Group cooperation is created by small, frequently repeated moments of vulnerability.  None of these carries more weight than the moment when a leader signals vulnerability. (pg. 158)

  • Successful groups over communicate expectations - they are explicit and persistent about sending clear signals that establish expectations, and align language and roles to maximize desired behavior. (pg. 160)

Other Key Ideas:

  • When you receive a belonging cue, the brain starts to build and sustain your social bonds.  In a heartbeat, it transforms from a growling guard dog into a energetic guide dog with a single-minded goal: to make sure you stay tightly connected with your people. (pg. 25)

  • One misconception about highly successful cultures is they are happy, lighthearted places.  This is mostly not the case. They are energized and engaged, but at their core their members are less around achieving happiness than around solving hard problems together. (pg. 55)

  • Researchers discovered that one particular form of feedback boosted student effort and performance so immensely that they deemed it “magical feedback.” It was, "I’m giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know you can reach them." (pg. 56)

  • Group chemistry is a complex and mysterious process.  One of the greatest indicators in creating a successful team has less to do with intelligence and experience and more to do with where offices happen to be located.  Closeness helps create efficiencies of connection. (pg. 71)

  • In any interaction, we have a natural tendency to try and hide our weaknesses and appear competent.  If you want to create safety, this is exactly the wrong move. Instead, you should open up, show you make mistakes, and invite input. (pg. 76)

  • One of the most vital moments for creating safety is when a group shares bad news or gives tough feedback.  In these moments, it’s important not simply to tolerate the difficult news but to embrace it. (pg. 77)

  • When you enter highly successful cultures, the number of thank-yous you hear seems slightly over the top.  It has less to do with thanks and more to do with affirming the relationship. (pg. 79)

  • Highly successful cultures eliminate bad apples.  They have an extremely low tolerance for bad apple behavior and were skilled at naming those behaviors. (pg. 81)

  • One of best relievers of stress can be time spent together away from employee’s desks.  It is recommended to align team members’ schedules so that they share the same fifteen-minute coffee break every day. (pg. 82)

  • Ensuring that everyone has a voice is easy to talk about but hard to accomplish.  This is why many successful groups use simple mechanisms that encourage, spotlight, and value full-group contribution.  One manager held one-on-ones with each employee for about 30 minutes. (pg. 84)
     

  • Highly successful cultures embrace fun because laughter is not just laughter - it’s the most fundamental sign of safety and connection. (pg. 88)

  • Vulnerability tends to spark cooperation and trust.  It is important that employees send a clear signal that they have a weakness and that they can use help.  (pg. 103)

  • Always deliver negative messages in person - if you have negative news or feedback to give someone you are obligated to deliver that news face-to-face. (pg. 161)

  • High purpose environments are filled with small, vivid signals designed to create a link between the present moment and future ideal.  They provide the two simple locators that every navigation process requires: Here is where we are and Here is where we want to go. (pg. 180)

  • Be intentional about embedding principles and core values in trainings, staff meetings, and all communications.  Push leaders to seek opportunities to use and model the key behaviors and the organizational leader should treat his role as that of a culture broadcaster. (pg. 209

  • Creating engagement around a clear, simple set of priorities can function as a lighthouse, orienting behavior and providing a path toward a goal. (pg. 210)

  • Leaders are inherently biased to presume that everyone in the group sees things as they do, when in fact they don’t.  This is why it’s necessary to drastically over-communicate priorities. (pg. 229)

  • Effective organizations measure what matters - they must build a clear sense of purpose in a world that is cluttered with noise, distractions, and endless alternative purposes.  They must create simple universal measures that place focus on what matters. (pg. 232)

Copyright © 2019 by Dr. Jared Smith LLC.  Specializing in Leadership, Education, and Personal Growth.