It looks like we have our first “hit” with the Fast Company Book Club. A major online bookseller based in Seattle (named after a river in South America — you do the math) sent out an e-mail inviting employees to participate in a discussion group led by Bill George, the author of our inaugural book, Authentic Leadership, when he is in Seattle on October 7. Within an hour, more than 90 people had signed up to be involved, far exceeding expectations.
When I ran the Executive Program book club several years ago, I felt privileged to participate in the creation of more than a hundred reading groups across the country. What I learned might be considered heresy by the publishing community but I am going to say it anyway. The benefit people derived from the reading groups began with the books themselves but continued through the creation of real communities within companies and corporations. Some of those groups are still meeting to this day, having read dozens of books but, more importantly, being responsible for thousands of like-minded employees meeting each other for the first time.
Does any of this resonate with you? Have you been looking for a new way to energize employees? Do you think business books could be catalysts for change in your organization? If so, we have put together some tips for starting a reading group in your company. If I can help in any way, I am happy to share my own experiences.
By the way, as I can’t go for a day without referencing my own book Beans, there are discussion questions in the book that both individuals and workgroups can use to talk about the four principles we’ve identified as being common in any successful business: passion, people, product, and making it personal. A number of companies are already using this little book as a tool for educating employees about the importance of all of them.