Because culture and community doesn't happen by accident
A year ago, I wrote a LinkedIn post that ended up being pretty popular. I know focusing on social media performance isn't super helpful but seeing this topic do numbers does support my belief in the topic. Mostly working on this post really helped solidify my thoughts on the subjects of culture and community. Plus, I got some great additional book recommendations in the comments.
So, I wanted to share the original post with you and expand on some of the takeaways. Plus, I'll throw in a few new book recommendations for 2023.
Some of the original take aways #
Rewinding to last year… I had just taken a new role on the DesignOps team. Unexpectedly my focus would be on community and culture for a 300+ person team. The first thing I needed to do was hit the books. Some of the titles that I chose to read follow.
- Cultivating a Creative Culture by Justin Dauer - This one talks about the “new day one experience" and how we can apply a human-centered design process to ourselves.
- Get Together by Bailey Richardson, Kevin Huynh, and Kai Elmer Sotto - This book is packed with case studies about special communities and how they got their start.
- The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker - This book shows you how to intentionally design gatherings that will make your friends and loved ones feel special and taken care of.
- Articulating Design Decisions by Tom Greever - So much of what designers and creative professionals do is sell their work. This book provides all kinds of tactics and principles for communicating designs. Reading this book is like having super powers and gain the support we need to be successful. I wish I would have read this exactly 10 years ago!
- The Unicorn Project by Gene Kim - If you work in IT, software, or product development, this book is a great way to gain appreciation for innovation and teamwork.
One of the challenges with working on community and culture is that it feels like it touches on everything. To prevent spreading ourselves too thin, it's important to listen to our employees. This way, we'll be able to find out their biggest pain points, beliefs, goals, and even some latent needs. Plus, they'll feel heard and that makes a big difference
Another one of my big take aways from this reading is about being a gracious host. This means esigning a really special experience for moments that matter, like an employee's first-day, The new day-one experience, from the Creative Culture book is an investment in the people you will work with for years to come.
One last thing I want to share is the concept of the "non-chill host" from The Art of Gathering. The best run gatherings, wether they are social, team-building, or training benefits from the host practicing generous authority. This means that the host sets the rules and sticks to the agenda, but always in the service of others. For quick read from Priya Parker also try a recent newsletter called The new art of hybrid gathering.
Culture books to try next #
Now, let's talk about some more books to help you design a sense of belonging within your community. These are a few titles that I have on my reading list now:
- Design for Belonging by Susie Wise - Part of a whole series of tiny books from the Stanford Design School. It teaches you how to design physical spaces that promote calm, roles that create responsibility, and events that make people feel included.
- The Power of Ritual by Casper Ter Kuile - Follows a similar theme found in this whole reading list. It inspires readers to be more intentional with the daily practices of our lives. He invites us to deepen our everyday ordinary practices with intentional rituals that nurture connection and wellbeing.
- Rituals for Virtual Meetings - In small part this is a textbook about virtual interactions at work and mostly a workbook with dozens (64 to be precise) of templates and methods/rituals to make meetings more engaging, focused, productive, and connecting. In as little as 2-3 min you can start a meeting in a fresh new way that will prime people for creative work and more connection.
- Inclusive Design Communities by Sameera Kapila - I haven't read this one yet, but I've heard great things about it. It's all about creating inclusive communities through design. As soon as I order this one and the 2nd edition of Design is a Job I will update this post.
That's it! Let me know if you have any questions, or if you have any book recommendations of your own!
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