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Team Reading: Is This a DIY Path for Organizational Change?

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I asked the CEO what they are doing to create positive change and the answer was, “Our team is reading a book.” Selecting a book for team reading is a great idea. You’ll gain a lot of new or refreshed information and ideas, but will that really lead to change?

Team Reading

Team Reading

I’ve written about the value of reading to inspire, increase our intellect, and gain additional knowledge. It’s a great idea! However, I often wonder about businesses who believe that their best resources for creating organizational change come from within their own organization. Is a DIY (do it yourself) approach really the way to go?

This is especially true for small businesses, those who are not really big enough to have a staff of professional organization development experts. Team reading is fantastic but does it provide the skillset required to launch organizational change with a DIY approach?

Path for Change

Like nearly everything in life (and business) there are some pros and cons when trying to manage organizational change without outside resources. Here are some of my thoughts:

Pros (that you might hear)

  • Creates unity and brings the team together. Provides an introduction to a new or different philosophy and we are learning together.
  • Learning together improves buy-in for the change. Buy-in means we’ll hold each other accountable.
  • Since it’s internally managed there are no distractions from outside influence. We’ll change quietly and the way we want.
  • Low cost, we don’t have to pay for anything except the book and the value of our time.
  • Our business is unique and no one knows how to guide us, we know best.

Cons: (that I might offer)

  • No outside influence. Participants are confined by their own framework.
  • Accountability is problematic since the team agrees on the urgency of other problems (fighting fires) instead of being proactive (strategic) and as a result procrastinate about the real issues and decisions.
  • Confined by their own opinions and definitions of fellow group members, team unity (lack of) might be the elephant in the room. An outsider is neutral to internal politics.
  • While it appears the lower cost comes from DIY, narrow frameworks, bias, and a lack of expertise for managing change drive costs up. Valuable and irreplaceable time is lost forever.
  • Unique might limit the vision for new opportunities. Unique is good but for organizational change help from an external unbiased expert far outweighs any unique organizational characteristics.

Questions Drive Solutions

Imagine your child, spouse, or close family member is very sick, you’ve tried to some actions to improve the situation but the condition is getting worse. Will you grab a book and manage it yourself?

Imagine your business has just received a class action lawsuit. Will you manage this yourself or consult with a legal professional?

Imagine your business has grown and you need to build a new building. Will you design and build it yourself or will you hire some external resources to help out or perhaps even manage the project completely?

Having more knowledge in any of these scenarios by reading a book or watching a video is a great idea. Doing it with others who are closely connected and care deeply about the problem or task at hand is also a great idea.

Attempting to fix, repair, or solve these problems through a DIY approach might not be such a great idea.

Are you considering a path for organizational growth, team development, or cultural change? Will you DIY or hire professional help?


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a four-time author and some of his work includes, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce and Pivot and Accelerate, The Next Move Is Yours! Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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