22.02.2012

Culture Amp Book Club

The other day we were discussing "must read" books that we found inspirational. We quickly realized that if these really were must-reads, then each of us was behind on at least two or three.
We're pretty busy on Murmur at the moment, but we're all going to make an effort to get across these and report back. So here is. The inaugural Culture Amp reading list (in random order).

Didier recommends The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge
The book that popularised what was to become one of the most overused phrases of the 90s - "the learning organisation". Still, it became such an overused phrase because as an idea was an extremely powerful and persuasive. Time and time again I find myself referring back to his idea that it is often the nature and/or structure of our interactions that gives rise to behaviour - not the personality of the individuals involved. Some of it might seem old hat now, but it is refreshing to read about complexity theory, agile management and OODA loops -- but without those names!

Jason recommends No Two Alike by Judith Rich Harris
Judith Rich Harris has been praised by Malcolm Gladwell, Steven Pinker and many other notable thinkers and scholars - and in my view she outshines them too. Judith sleuths her way through every shred of evidence she can find in an attempt to answer one of the greatest mysteries in psychology - how can identical twins actually be so different? The question opens the doors to questions about what makes us truly individual and the answers are not what many people currently believe. There are a few academic casualties along the way. Judith's back story makes it all the more amazing.

Jon recommends Maverick by Ricardo Semler
Ricardo inherits Semco, a Brazillian manufacturer getting hit hard by a brutal economic downturn. After a health scare and a flash of inspiration, he decides to turn the company on it's head and embarks on an unorthodox transformation. Employees hire their bosses, share in the profits, share jobs, choose their own timetables and define their own work. It's a great reminder that you can do things differently and succeed.

Rod recommends Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way" - this is the essence of Dr Viktor Frankl's message. Split into two parts, Frankl first shares his lessons learned whilst incarcerated for several years in Nazi concentration camps, and how through this torturous experience, it was his clarity of purpose that willed him to survive. The second part of the book formally introduces 'Logotherapy', a form of psychotherapy that Frankl developed as a result. It may sound a little bit poetic, but I love the accountability that Frankl places on each of us to not be a victim of circumstance - "man does not simply exist, but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment".

Doug recommends Peopleware: Productive Projects & Teams by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister
Written over 25 years ago, Peopleware is still as relevant today as it ever was. DeMarco and Lister explore the 'human' aspects of developing software by first building successful team dynamics. They explore and contrast the individual and their needs with corporate ideology, discussing everything from the importance of the working environment, to teams gelling, corporate entropy, and the high (often hidden) costs of turnover.

Enjoy! If you've connected with these books, or you've got any suggestions, we'd love to hear from you.

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