Saturday, December 15, 2018
Off the Shelf: The Culture Code
I've long been a student of small group dynamics. The interpersonal psychology fascinates me. So it may not have come as any surprise, if you read last Sunday's post at A Family Tapestry, to learn that I'm finding Daniel Coyle's book, The Culture Code, to be fascinating.
I'm reading the book mainly to satisfy my year-long quest to see how a small group like our local genealogical society can re-invent itself. If nothing else, how we can form small groups within our society to help energize our efforts at achieving our mission—and how we can encourage each other as fellow researchers in the process.
Author Daniel Coyle has such a readable writing style that I find myself sucked right into the text, turning pages I intended to mark as my stopping point for the evening's reading. (I might suggest, if you pick up his book, that you read it accompanied by a timer, especially if you are a night-owl reader.)
Using illustrations from organizations both notable and ignoble—he analyses the social media efforts of the notorious ISIS—Daniel Coyle builds his argument for what makes a highly successful organization. In his book, it's the interpersonal gel that makes the difference—and he picks apart groups until he finds the glue that enables them to hold together through the most challenging parts of their core mission.
This is one of those books that will become a go-to reference for me, as I muddle through whether a volunteer organization such as a genealogical society can lift the ideas from these sterling corporate and military entities and cross-apply them to a humble setting such as ours. We do, after all, have a vital mission of our own: to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers by wooing them to embrace their heritage. That heritage, after all, is what made us who we are; it's our roots, and those roots grow and reach out and tie us to one another in a curious way.
Just as our families have their own culture—and evolved from the Old World cultures of our roots—our groups develop their own cultures, too. How we allow those cultures to evolve eventually shapes what our group becomes in the future. We can allow that growth to occur haphazardly, or we can choose to take a hand in shaping how our organization grows—and how it responds to its environment.
My goal in reading books like this is to observe how the most effective groups have learned to create a culture of success so that I can take part in influencing my own society for the better, as well. Daniel Coyle's most recent book is turning out to be an inspiring handbook for such a quest.