Reading Lately — Teams, Orgs, and Vision

April 2, 2018

Previously I shared my “Reading Lately” list with a few books about motivation. Each publication from that list is still relevant in my thoughts, actions, and discussions with others at SEP.

This time I am sharing 4 books that have greatly influenced the way I think about working collaboratively with people — whether on a team, in a working group, or helping influence the direction of our company.

1. Creating Great Teams

Dubbed internally here at SEP as the “puppy book”…Creating Great Teams shows what one company did to change their staffing model…they went from being assigned to a task by a manager to having each team/product pitching what they were working on and employees got to “self-select” into a team/product.

At first I was skeptical of such a model…it seemed impossible to achieve. After reading the book we’ve launched several experiments of our own around the office to embrace more “self-selection”.

2. Reinventing Organizations

Raman sold me on this book by describing it as “the puppy book on steroids”. Creating Great Teams used self-selection as a way for people to have a voice in what they work on…in Reinventing Organizations they take it up a notch. There are multiple moving stories about “teal” companies around the globe. Some stories about the journey to becoming “teal”…some stories about the trials of maintaining a “teal” organization…and even some stories about moving away from being a “teal” organization.

The author uses colors to categorize organizations. A “teal” organization typically has a decentralized structure and has self-managing teams. The colors that this author uses are red, amber, orange, green, and teal.

This book is more weighty than the “puppy book”. Reinventing Organizations has helped me focus on my level of consciousness and to think about what our evolutionary purpose is, or could be, or possibly should be.

3. Creativity Inc.

Holy moly. This book was incredible for me. I’m not gonna lie…at the end of the book I balled like a teenage girl after a breakup on prom night. I don’t know why I did, but I did. I had to pull over and cry it out (I was listening to this book while commuting).

The thing that resonated with me on this book was how much employees loved their leaders at Pixar. And not just sorta kinda liked them, they truly enjoyed being around people like Steve Jobs, John Lasseter, and many more. Everything about Pixar (physical campus layout, organizational structure, products they worked on, even the office furniture/layout) was intended to enhance collaboration. Sure, they made some mistakes along the way (really, only 1 bathroom for that many employees!?!)  … those mistakes helped remind them of what truly matters to them.

After reading Creativity Inc. I have a new lifetime dream…to show people I care about them as much as Steve Jobs showed his crew that he cared about them.

4. Making Vision Stick

My first blog post on my favorite books was focused on motivation. While autonomy, mastery, and purpose are an incredible heuristic for increasing internal motivation, clarity is also necessary to balance out autonomy with ability. As clarity increases, so can autonomy and ability. Without clarity, autonomy will shrink.

In this book Andy Stanley helped me understand that clarity trumps completeness…and gave me some tools for creating visions that are portable and clear. One of those tools is to repeat your vision regularly. Did I mention my new dream is to show others that I care about them? 😉

Bonus…I’m super excited to hear from Andy again this year at Leadercast 2018! He is a leader worth following.