“The Culture Code”

Daniel Coyle

I’ve been enjoying that the book club at work seems to bounce back and forth between books that are Very Programmer-Oriented and things that aren’t at all specific to programming. This time, it’s the latter, despite the word ‘code’ in the title: The Culture Code is, in fact, more of a management book.

The focus is, as you might expect, on culture. What is a culture of success/productivity/various-other-positive-buzzwords? How do you create one?

Very broadly, the answers are: “one in which people feel safe and can feel vulnerable, and do is in the pursuit of a shared goal”. As for creating that environment, well, that’s what the rest of the book is about. And, generally, the tips boil down to “show people that these things are the case.” Make people feel safe by showing that they belong, that they are part of the in-group of this culture. Demonstrate that it’s okay to be vulnerable by making yourself vulnerable, showing your weaknesses. And reiterate the shared goal… mostly through use of little catchphrases, seems to be the advice there. It does feel a little trite, but then, having those little catchphrases repeated over and over does seem to hammer them into one’s head.

I actually did find there to be a good bit of value in this book, but in that “useful self-help book” way, where there’s the broad topic that you could’ve fit on an informational pamphlet, and then there’s the rest of the advice, which is scattered around in a way that feels almost like one of those little daily desk calendar things. My pull-quotes notebook lost several pages to this book.

So, overall, I found this a good book to read! I think it is, perhaps, uniquely well suited to be a Workplace Book Club read, and could happily suggest it as the first book for starting one of those up if you don’t have one already. Give the book a go.1

  1. This is a Bookshop affiliate link – if you buy it from here, I get a little bit of commission. It won’t hurt my feelings if you buy it elsewhere; honestly, I’d rather you check it out from your local library, or go to a local book store. I use Bookshop affiliate links instead of Amazon because they distribute a significant chunk of their profits to small, local book stores.

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