Case Study: Culture Books, What They Are and Why To Use Them

2 min read
Nov 11, 2014

culture_bookHave you heard about Culture Books, and what they’re all about? Started by the company culture innovators at Zappos, these books compile unedited entries from employees about what their company culture means to them. New versions are created every year, reflecting evolutions in how the company has changed over time. Like a yearbook, they provide a snapshot of company culture then and there.

Companies can take this idea and run with it. Just like TINYpulse client Conversion Rate Experts (CRE) did. CRE treasured their culture, and wanted any and all people to see what it was all about. In just a few easy steps, they got their own Culture Book going:

  1. Tell your employees: CRE told their employees via email what they wanted to do, and why they wanted to do it. Employees quickly got on board, excited to share their feedback about what the culture meant to them.

  2. Gather unedited feedback: CRE managers compiled all of the employee feedback, including the bad stuff. All cultures have a few dark clouds, and CRE wasn’t scared to acknowledge it.

  3. Share it out: CRE is quite public about theirs, and publishes entries on their website.

Sound like a lot of work? Not so much. And when you consider the value it brings to your business, it’ll be well worth it:

  • Tells recruits about the culture: You’ll quickly weed out job candidates that don’t match your culture. If your culture doesn’t resonate with them, they’ll run for the hills. This is perfect. You didn’t want this guy or gal anyway.
  • Solidifies cultural norms: A Culture Book sets the standards for behavior. If an employee is acting off, you need only point to the Culture Book and ask him if he’s behaving in accordance with those norms.
  • Offers insights to leadership: Employees will share the good and the bad. This gives managers a chance to take stock of the culture today and identify any paint points.
  • Tells newcomers how to conform: If you’re culture is a good one, you want new recruits to get on board. Having these standards tells them on day one what is expected of them.

In the words of Peter Drucker, culture eats strategy for breakfast. Having a whole lot of smart people won’t matter if your culture is terrible. Invest in it. A Culture Book is a great way to start the process. Gather honest, authentic feedback and share it out. If you don’t like what you see, that’s okay. It just means you have a great opportunity to improve your company workplace.


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