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Book Review: The Culture Code by Dan Coyle

Everyone who goes to a workplace everyday experiences the organizational culture of that business or organization.  Most of us can readily identify the elements of the culture.  It encompasses the stories we tell, the way we treat each other, and the way we interact with our customers or clients.  For most of us there are things we like and things we dislike about our organizational culture.  In the book, The Culture Code (Bantam Books, New York, 2018), author Daniel Coyle emphasizes that we can all exert some control over the organizational culture in which we find ourselves.  

The book is presented in three sections called skills.  Each section describes the skills required to drive a segment of the culture towards a more positive and more successful place.  At the end of each section is my favorite parts of the book.  Each section concludes with a chapter called “Ideas for Action.”  These ideas for action include 7 – 13 actionable ideas that summarize the skills described in the section.  For me, these ideas for action have become my action items to drive a more positive culture in my workplace.

Section 1 describes the importance of emotional safety. By enabling each co-worker to feel safe at work, we enable them to contribute at a higher level. Section 2 describes the value of vulnerability. By leading with vulnerability, we can encourage our co-workers to reach out and help. Of course, they’ll only help if they feel safe doing so. Section 3 describes the power of establishing a clear purpose and the power of aligning our co-workers. Once we feel safe and want to help, we get the biggest benefits from all helping in the same direction.

Any organization seeking to improve diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) needs to examine its organizational culture. Coyle introduces this book with the Latin root of the word culture. Cultura, which means to care. Each person demonstrating care for each other will generate a more positive culture. Some of the skill actions have a direct impact on improving DEI. For example:

  • Emotional safety – hear everyone, ensure everyone has a voice
  • Vulnerability – talk leads the walk, ensure language is aligned with action
  • Establish purpose – clarify priorities, ensure that DEI goals are clearly and often communicated

Coyle’s book is an easy read with interesting supporting stories. By implementing even a few of the ideas for action, we can help change our workplace to a better and more positive place.

— Scott Hanton, LINC Ambassador and General Manager at Intertek Allentown