How a book club can change your business

Zappos famously does this. TriNet and Warby Parker too. Mark Zuckerberg spent a year promoting one on Facebook and Arnie Malham created a whole company around it.

We are talking about the Book Club. But this is not your grandma’s Book Club.

Over the last decade, growing numbers of companies have created employee reading programs. These book clubs are driven by an interest in improving competency, camaraderie, and innovation while helping employees develop systematic reading habits. The results of a recent survey show that not enough of us are doing that. According to the Pew Research Center, 25% of the US population hasn’t opened a book in the last year. That is more than 60,000,000 employees, co-workers and executives in American businesses.

Book clubs can look very different depending on the organization. In one of our client companies, there are two book clubs. In the first book club, executives read one chapter from a selected book and meet each week to discuss. In the second book club, the rest of the office is invited to read one book every 3 months and meet monthly to answer questions like, What do you think is important to learn from this book? What do we need to do to apply this?

At Marmoset, the CEO curated a library of 50 titles that he thought were important to the culture of the organization. He asks his staff to read one book every 6 months, write a 2 page book report on it and after turning it in – they are rewarded with a $125 gift certificate. Not a bad deal for a bit of reading.

And if you like these ideas, but don’t want to manage a book club, you can always turn to the www.betterbookclub.com to manage it for you. The company helps you build a library, tracks progress, and manages your incentives. It is a turn-key way to run a large club or to manage it without using additional employee resources.

If you’ve taken one of our trainings, come to one of our presentations or are one of our consulting clients – you already know we love our books. And while we don’t expect everyone to manage a book club in their organization, it’s a very inexpensive way to increase the collective and individual expertise and brainpower on your team. To help you get started we’ve compiled a list of our favorite conscious business books:

Real Power: Stages of Personal Power in Organizations by Janet O. Hagberg

Originals by Adam Grant

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman

An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization by Robert Kegan, Lisa Laskow Lahey, Andy Fleming

Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose
Rajendra Sisodia and Jagdish N. Sheth and David Wolfe

Business Lessons from a Radical Industrialist by Ray C. Anderson

Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell-And Live-The Best Stories Will Rule the Future by Jonah Sachs

Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family by Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia

Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman by Yvon Chouinard