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Book:  The Culture Playbook

Author:  Daniel Coyle

Purchase:  Hardcover

Citation:  Coyle, D. (2022). The culture playbook: 60 highly effective actions to help your group succeed. Random House.

Three Big Takeaways:
  1. The academic research is overwhelming. When people believe they can speak up at work, the learning, innovation, and performance of their organization is greater. (pg. 20)

  2. Weak cultures hide their problems and pretend like they don't exist. Strong cultures leverage their problems to create shared learning. (pg. 116)

  3. The below-the-radar rule is found at several high-performing cultures: If you have negative news or feedback to tell someone - you must deliver it face-to-face. Whereas it’s easier and more comfortable to type the message, it’s better to handle the tension in an up-front, honest way that creates shared clarity and connection. (pg. 132)


Other Key Ideas:

We tend to think that great performance can make up for bad behavior. But that belief is wrong: studies show that the benefits of high-performing jerks almost never outweigh their cost to the group’s performance. (pg. 25)

According to a 2019 McKinsey study, businesses in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 36 percent more profitable than those in the bottom quartile. (pg. 57)

Vulnerability loops happen when two or more people come together to admit they don’t know the answers. When people take interpersonal risks together, they connect and cooperate far more deeply. Vulnerability comes before trust. Taking a risk, when done together, causes the solid ground of trust to materialize beneath our feet. (pg. 88)

Every group continually encounters a handful of core tensions. These tensions aren’t a negative - they are actually the crux of your work, the steep parts of the mountain you’re climbing together. Defining and spotting them sends a clarifying, energizing signal: Yes, these tensions are really hard, and navigating them together - and embracing these difficult conversations - is what helps us be successful. After all, if this stuff were easy, everybody would do it. (pg. 95)

Send an email to your team containing these three questions: 1) What is one thing I currently do that you’d like me to continue to do? 2) What is one thing that I don’t currently do frequently enough that you think I should do more often; and 3) What can I do to make you more effective? (pg. 103)

One of his first acts was to hold a thirty-minute one-on-one with each of his ship’s 310 sailors in which three questions were asked: 1) What do you like most about our company? 2) What do you like least? 3) What would you change if you were in charge? (pg. 111)

One of the most powerful moments in group life happens the instant after someone shares bad news or gives tough-to-hear feedback. In these moments, it’s important not simply to tolerate the difficult news but to embrace it. You want to make sure that person feels safe enough to tell you the truth the next time. Don’t conceal the difficult news; spotlight it. Tell everyone how much you appreciated getting it and how much you need to keep getting it to improve in the future. (pg. 115)

When it comes to normalizing mental health conversations, few forces are more powerful than the actions of a leader. One leader who shared their story of their own mental health challenges said, “it turned out to be the best thing I ever did as a leader.” (pg. 120)

Consider designating a few “bleacher seats” at big meetings for emerging leaders, interns, and others who might be interested in watching and learning. The goal is not to have them participate, but merely to have them observe how leaders in your group communicate, think, and interact. (pg. 139)

The two most critical moments in any culture are when someone joins and when someone leaves. That’s why strong cultures treat offboarding with the same degree of intention and care that they bring to onboarding. (pg. 141)

Stories are the most powerful force on the planet. They light up our brains and stick in our memories twenty-two times more powerfully than mere information. (pg. 172)

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