Culture and change reading list

I’ve had a lot of people ask me for book recommendations so I am putting together this list of suggested reading on various topics. I will add to this as I have time.

Hover over each link to see a thumbnail of the book cover.

Culture and Change reading

If you’re only going to read one thing, read this: Teaching Smart People How to Learn, by Chris Argyris.

Analyzing Animal Societies is a great peek into how animal cultures work, with some good lessons for humans.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, by Chip and Dan Heath, is a nice read that connects brain science to the problems of behavior change.

Leading Change, With a New Preface by the Author, by John Kotter, is a classic from one of the world’s leading experts on organizational change.

Brain Rules (Updated and Expanded): 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina is a very down-to-earth, practical guide that will help you understand how the brain understands things and how to apply that knowledge in your life and work.

Change: Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution by Paul Watzlawick, who studied under Bateson, tells the fascinating story of the early days of brief therapy and the role of paradox in change.

Flawed Advice and the Management Trap: How Managers Can Know When They’re Getting Good Advice and When They’re Not by Chris Argyris exposes the main problem with most management advice: It simply can’t be implemented in most organizations due to organizational belief bubbles, especially in top management. He provides many examples and demonstrates why the advice of most of his Harvard colleagues is unlikely to cause any meaningful change.

Overcoming Organizational Defenses: Facilitating Organizational Learning, also by Argyris, explains why smart people fail at change , how organizational culture conceals information and distorts reality, and offers some practical advice about what can be done.

Walking the Talk: Building a Culture for Success, by Carolyn Taylor, is a detailed and specific guide for creating meaningful organizational culture change.

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, is a nice book that makes practical connections between research and behavior. It is mostly about how the way that choices are presented influences what we decide and how we behave.

Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World, by Margaret Wheatley, has two chapters evocatively titled “Change, Stability and Renewal: The Paradoxes of Self-Organising Systems” and “Change – The Capacity of Life.”

Moments of Impact: How to Design Strategic Conversations That Accelerate Change, by Lisa Kay Solomon, is an excellent book on how great design can increase the power, stickiness and impact of strategic conversations.

How to Change the World: Change Management 3.0, by Jurgen Appelo, offers a unique and engaging look at change management practices and principles for the connected age.

Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long, by David Rock of the NeuroLeadership Institute, is a great introduction to how brain research can be applied to make yourself more effective at work.

Coaching with the Brain in Mind: Foundations for Practice, also by David Rock, is a wonderful, comprehensive overview of leadership coaching, and a great thinking tool for anyone involved in any kind of culture or change initiative.

If you have suggestions for additional books please let me know.

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DISCLAIMER: These are Amazon affiliate links, which means that if you click through from this page it’s kind of like buying me a cup of coffee, a small reward for my efforts which is much appreciated 🙂 You won’t pay any more for the book than you would otherwise.