Just over a year ago a book called Reinventing Organizations inspired a radical shift at our company, as Fitzii eliminated traditional management roles in favor of a self-managing “Teal” structure.
Books are still the most powerful way to convey influential ideas. So, for those people always on the lookout for inspiring new concepts, we created a list of the books that have most impacted our company, and most impacted the individuals on our team.
The Books That Most Impacted Fitzii
Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux
Reinventing Organizations describes a new type of organizational structure called Evolutionary-Teal. The book describes how this approach compares to traditional organizational models that have evolved throughout history, and then details the unique benefits Teal can provide. It draws on in-depth research into twelve Teal companies and reveals three defining characteristics: Self-management, Wholeness and Evolutionary Purpose. We have enjoyed many benefits of being a self-managing Teal company, and Frederic Laloux has turned into a wonderful supporter of our work. If there’s just one book that you check out from our list, we hope it’s this one!
The author of this book is the former CEO of one of the twelve self-managing companies that Reinventing Organizations profiled. It’s a business fable that illustrates how increased empowerment can work. When leaders learn to put real control in the hands of their people and teach them to use the “advice process,” they tap into incalculable potential. Bakke shows us that “decision making is the best way to develop people; and that should not stop at business school.” Fitzii has incorporated the advice process in our standard practices, and this book was a great help in showing how to do it. It’s also a great book for those teams who don’t want to go full self-management right away, but rather first start practicing increased empowerment.
Start with Why by Simon Sinek
Start With Why is all about purpose, and how we can use it to inspire others and attract those who believe what we believe. Once you read it your communications will never fail to “start with why.” Our “why” at Fitzii has always been to make hiring better so that more people get into jobs they are a fit for. But we also look at “why” on an individual level, so that when we’re hiring new people on our team, we start by making sure that they are as inspired by our purpose as we are, and then we evaluate whether “how” they do their best work fits with our environment and culture, and whether their “what” (skills and experience) will get the job done.
Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
This next book from Sinek looks at what truly inspires people to love, and be dedicated to, their work. Sinek concludes that the way most businesses are run these days are limiting their own potential with a short-sight to the bottom line, and not nearly enough care for the people they employ. Most of the team at Fitzii read, and were inspired by, the amazing examples of empowerment and engagement in this book before we found Reinventing Organizations and decided to go all-in on self-management – it definitely greased the wheels of change.
The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Richard Riso & Russ Hudson
There are lots of personality typologies and systems out there. In our experience, Enneagram of Personality is the only one that gives you practical guidance on becoming a healthier, more integrated human being. It has been our favourite starting point for understanding what makes each of us unique, what motivates us, and how to integrate towards our greatest potential. Nothing short of a cult classic with the Fitzii crew, and also our friends at CauseLabs, another B Corp who are experimenting with self-management.
Feedback That Works: How To Build and Deliver Your Message by Sloan R. Weitzel
Giving feedback is a super-important, fundamental skill in a self-managed Teal business like Fitzii because if you see a problem, it’s your responsibility to deal with it constructively. When dealing with that problem includes giving feedback, this book is packed with practical advice about how to deliver it in an effective, three-part way:
Situation: Clarify the specific time and place the event happened.
Behaviour: Describe the specific behaviours (body language, tone of voice, choice of words) without interpreting it.
Impact: Acknowledge the emotional effect the person’s behaviour had on you.
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink
This is an oft-cited classic that sheds light on a major issue in business – that most companies have created structures that actually decrease, instead of increase, employee motivation. Pink reviews all the research and comes to a simple conclusion that the three major things that actually motivate us at work are purpose, mastery and autonomy. Fitzii has built all our people processes around these ideas, and they are a wonderful complement with our internal practices.
To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel Pink
This other book by Dan Pink points out that the internet has shifted the power from the seller to the buyer, which means that sales is no longer a profession for manipulators – in fact, these days, everyone’s in sales. And that means that the best tactics are all about providing value that PULLS in customers, and avoiding old-school PUSH tactics that make everyone feel icky anyway. Almost the whole team at Fitzii read the book and unanimously cried – Hallelujah!
The B Corp Handbook by Ryan Honeyman
For any who have wondered how to use business as a force for good, how your efforts are comparing to the companies leading the way in sustainability, or why it’s worth considering at all, Ryan’s book provides the answer. He gives a detailed explanation of the B-Corp movement and the B Impact Assessment, explaining why third party verification of your efforts is relevant, and how pursuing this path of the triple bottom line (social, environmental and financial) is the way of the future.
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
This is a compelling and funny memoir about the funk the author got into (and out of) after he achieved success in selling his first book. From a filmmaker he learned about the steps of the Hero’s Journey, and was inspired to start living his life as if he was the protagonist in an epic tale. After writing this book, Miller went on to found StoryBrand, which uses the Hero’s Journey concept to help companies more authentically be “the guide” of the journey their customers (the heroes) are on. Fitzii has built all our messaging and key processes on this model – it’s simple, effective, and it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy about your marketing and service delivery.
Peak by Chip Conley
In this book Conley creates a Maslow-inspired hierarchy of needs through which to view the relationship a business has with its employees, customers, and shareholders, and through this lens shares incredible business insights and practices. Fitzii has adopted the employee pyramid of needs to explain how we aim to help jobseekers move up from Job to Career to Calling and find increasingly meaningful work. This book will inspire you to make your business better in many different ways.
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
At Fitzii, we embrace Lencioni’s belief that all successful teamwork starts with vulnerability-based trust. It’s a similar concept to Reinventing Organizations’ idea of wholeness. And we have sought, relentlessly, to build that trust – in our meetings, our interactions, even our performance feedback.
Getting Naked by Patrick Lencioni
This other classic Lencioni book discusses fears in business, and the limitations they place on allowing you to create long term relationships with clients. Showing vulnerability, admitting when you don’t know something, and asking dumb questions are all fears we experience when communicating with clients. What this book has taught our team is that pride and ignorance get in the way of our ability to do our job well. By showing vulnerability our clients can see that we are committed to serving them.
The Innovator’s Solution by Clayton M. Christensen & Michael E. Raynor
In a previous work, The Innovator’s Dilemma, Christensen examines why so many companies fail to remain competitive when facing disruption, which doubles as a playbook for the disruptors themselves. The Innovators Solution provides thorough and practical advice that Fitzii used, together with our parent company the Ian Martin Group, to decide how we would structure and treat Fitzii as an innovative subsidiary within the larger established company.
FREE by Chris Anderson
The former editor of WIRED, who is even more famous for writing The Long Tail, blew minds with this book, about the second most powerful four-letter F-word. It’s crazy to think that before this came out, economists and marketers completely missed spotting the revolution – and it’s inevitable conclusion – that the price of software is always in a race to free. Since then, companies like Google, Evernote, SurveyMonkey, MailChimp and thousands more have proven the counter-intuitive insight that you’ll make more money when you give a lot away – exactly why at Fitzii we’re providing our applicant tracking software totally free.
Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler
This book details the outbound sales strategy that propelled Salesforce.com’s success into the enterprise space (without making any cold calls!). The authors argue that key tweaks to the sales process can have the biggest pay offs, especially things you can eliminate, automate, outsource, or delegate. The book is packed with practical recommendations that have brought about many positive changes in the Fitzii sales process, from separating prospecting & closing activities, to spotting time waster prospects, better managing customer’s “how-to” needs, and improving our outbound email campaigns.
Books That Impacted Individuals at Fitzii
Here’s some more books that impacted specific people at Fitzii…
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
This is one of those books I want to read every year. It removed my excuses for not growing, and freed me from believing that who I am today is who I will always be. Dweck outlines how we can live out of a fixed mindset that believes talent is innate, or out of a growth mindset that believes talent comes from study, application and practice. Believing you can grow is essential to producing that result. -James
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
Frankl was a psychiatrist who spent years imprisoned in a Nazi camp and found that the people who survived were those who found meaning in their suffering. After being freed, he developed an approach to psychotherapy out of the position that our primary drive is our search for meaning. Half of this book is a retelling of his experiences, and the other is an explanation of his psychological belief system. Both parts will stick with you forever. For me in particular, it was the powerful and empowering idea that we each decide (and have complete control over) how we view any and every situation, including those at work. -Edwin
While I’m not a true introvert (maybe introvert-light), this book spoke to me on a couple of levels. Having always preferred to spend hours buried in a book, and in thinking quietly before speaking, Quiet helped me to understand my personality in a more meaningful way. Cain also reaffirmed my belief in the downside and danger of society’s near total embrasure of the culture of personality, forced collaboration, and the loud, self-promoting ideal of extroversion. She passionately demonstrates how introverts are devalued and overlooked by a society enamoured with this ideal, often to its detriment. Strength. Innovation. Conviction. All can present themselves quietly and effectively if we choose to listen. -Ron
Necessary Dreams by Anna Fels
Long before I heard of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, or leaning in, Anna Fels’s book, Necessary Dreams, gave me courage to be a woman with big ambitions. In a world that doesn’t often affirm women’s ambitions, the evidence and arguments of Dr. Fels’ book emboldened me to pursue to my desires and potential. I have to think that’s at least in part why I choose to work as a leader in a start-up; taking risks; building something; goin’ for it. Lean In was a similarly helpful, empowering book, but for me, it’s Necessary Dreams that has been talisman of my own ambition. -Luz
The Adventures of Johnny Bunko by Daniel H. Pink
Somewhat out of place among all these heavyweights, is The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, the only manga-illustrated business book I’ve ever read. It packs a lot of wisdom into a 20-minute read and six (work)life lessons, including “There is no plan”, “Make excellent mistakes” and “Leave an imprint.” I happened to hear Dan Pink speak about this book just around the time I was contemplating the scary notion of quitting my full-time job to start a company. The book, and Dan’s talk, combined to create one of those “aha” moments that gave me the courage to go for it (and that company became Fitzii). If you know a high school student, buy them this book. -Ian
Hackers by Steven Levy
Levy’s noted book on the “heroes of the computer revolution” follows the advent of computing from the 1950s to the early 1980s. You’ll recognize most of the names here, like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Steve Wozniak, but they only account for half the story. The other half is in here as well. A must read for anyone interested in the tech sector. -Andy
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
In a nutshell, how to take perceived disadvantages and turn them into advantages. This book had a tremendous impact on how I looked at my day to day work. It is a personal challenge to call prospects who have no idea who you are, and who have never heard of Fitzii before. This book made me want to have a “David” year. Even though we are a small fish in a big pond, we have an opportunity to do things differently. We can come to battle on our terms, using our own weapons, and not have to play the same game others have for decades. I find change especially hard (as do many others), but this book is giving me the courage to try new approaches to our sales strategy. – Jonna
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
While I was a shy young guy studying management for the first time, I was given this book by a mentor, and it impressed me a lot. One of the oldest treatises on war, it talks about strategies to use in order to get power, and to keep it. Sun Tzu’s suggestions are quite violent, but can be used as a metaphor for business conflict. What’s most interesting to me, is that for Sun Tzu the best strategy to get power is to avoid war, and instead use information and intelligence. The most important thing, in war and business, is to have the best knowledge of a situation. -Jaoued
The Pragmatic Programmer by Andrew Hunt & David Thomas
There aren’t a lot of technical books on this list, but for the coder, The Pragmatic Programmer is a fantastic guide to common-sense programming practices. It does an amazing job of taking a broad perspective while delivering very concrete advice on practical programming, with applicability to virtually any language. It’s great book to pick up once in a while as a refresher, and to give new insights and techniques for solving whatever problems you’re currently working on. -Greg
Whaddya think of the list? If you have any comments about any of these books, we’d love to hear them!