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G&F Book Club: Chapter 5

G&F's book club covered The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle in our 5th meeting. The book suggestion and discussion were led by Corey.

Why The Culture Code?

One of Gray & Fick’s core values is that our strength is in the sum of our parts. We found The Culture Code to be a perfect fit for our book club because it’s all about the secrets of highly successful groups and how they developed as a team! The author, Daniel Coyle, takes the reader through the success stories, teamwork tactics, and even the biggest failures of several groups. In doing so, he relates each group through a lens of the three core skills:

  1. Building Safety

  2. Sharing Vulnerability

  3. Establishing Purpose

The author also places a spotlight on the leaders and culture changers of these groups by discussing their leadership styles and how they bring individuals together; a team working as one is greater than any individual.


“While successful culture can look and feel like magic, the truth is that it’s not. Culture is a set of living relationships working toward a shared goal. It’s not something you are. It’s something you do." - Daniel Coyle

Out of all the groups mentioned, our book club took a particular liking to the story of the San Antonio Spurs and their coach, Gregg Popovich. "Pop", as he is usually called, has a unique coaching style that's not about fear, anger, or disappointment. Rather, he builds up his teams and encourages sharing of vulnerabilities and successes while also creating strong bonds through events, body language, and his own personal empathy. His time with the Spurs has led them to 5 championship wins spread across 15 years, and a strong team based on trust that can tackle difficult discussions head-on.


The Takeaways

Many actionable steps and amazing stories were told in this book that contribute to the creation of a strong, safe, and effective work culture. These were shown to apply to elite teams (Navy SEALS, San Antonio Spurs) to corporations (Pixar, Google), and to smaller companies and restaurants. The primary takeaways included a few simple steps we could implement today:

  • Building safety in a group setting can engage everyone, even the "bad apples" (as Coyle puts it). Belonging cues such as forming personal connections, providing feedback on performance, and having a big picture perspective can be put into practice to build safety and allow everyone to succeed together.

  • Trust and closeness can be cultivated in groups through sharing vulnerability. When group members reciprocate in exposing their fallibilities and are able to openly ask questions, the group is able to draw on each other’s strengths and work more effectively together.

  • A high-purpose environment can create engagement and help the group focus on what really matters. Where are we now, and where do we want to go? This section of the book highlighted the importance of clearly stating and continually reinforcing a common purpose over time. By keeping the group focused on that common purpose, you can change mindsets and even change industries!


G&F Book Club: Chapter 6


The next book we will be reading is Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Adam will be leading the discussion.


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