Book Review by member Eric Weiner, MSW, PhD – “Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups”

Dr. Weiner, FBLI member and founder of Family Legacy Advisors, helps people successfully transfer the values, dreams, family stories and legacies associated with money from the past to the present, and well into the future. We thank him for sharing this book review with all family members. 

Here is his review of “Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups”.

In “Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups” (Published by Bantam Books, 2018), Daniel Coyle writes about the core skills any business owner desires. He describes group cultures where team members work together in smarter ways. They become effective problem solvers and have a positive impact on the bottom line. Their working relationships are so in synch they operate as if they are of one mind, similar to the workings of a bee hive. I am just guessing ideas like these are not typically taught in business school (Dr. Borst, correct me if I am wrong).

The author spent four years researching eight of the world’s most successful groups including the Navy SEALS, a comedy troupe, an inner-city school, the San Antonio Spurs basketball team, and others. He found out what makes them tick. It didn’t matter whether the focus was on laughter, education or issues of life and death; all these elite cultures developed basic skills that set them apart from other groups.

Coyle discovered three core skills “which tap into the power of our social brains” to create performance levels that go beyond the sum of their parts. Skill #1 builds safety. This explores how signals of connection generate bonds of belonging and identity between group members. Skill #2 is shared vulnerability. This explains how habits of mutual risk drive trusting cooperation. Skill #3 establishes purpose. This skill tells how narratives create shared goals and values.

“Culture Code” does not promote the traditional top-down organizational structure. Indeed, high performing teams are the result of horizontal leadership that evolves organically. There is less of a focus on organizational hierarchy and more emphasis on collaborative leadership. It reminds me of a wonderful book written in 2001 entitled, “Side by Side Leadership: Achieving Outstanding Results Together” written by Dennis Romig.

Many clearly written examples illustrate the three skills of building safety, sharing vulnerability, and establishing purpose. It is a quick read and you should walk away with numerous ideas for implementation.