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Running a book club with your team
Mar 17, 2020
3 minutes read

My manager at work had the brilliant idea of running a book club with our team. We’ve read two books so far and are about to start our third. I thought it would be fun to write a post about it and encourage you to start your own book club with your team! 📚

My team

We are a small team of test engineers distributed across several time zones based in the US, Canada, and Germany. We help teams at Mozilla build and ship high-quality products and features to our users. Every person supports multiple projects and we typically don’t get to work on the same project for an extended period of time.

For this very reason, we’ve taken a few deliberate steps to strengthen our bond as a team: We share knowledge and information and stand in for each other as project partners; we provide a safe space to air concerns, ask for feedback and advice, brainstorm together, and check in on goals as accountability partners; and we support each other’s professional growth and development through coaching and mentoring.

The book club is a fairly new initiative for us to learn together as a team. We have been doing this for about six months now and it’s been great so far! 😃

Book club format

We meet regularly as a team to give updates on ongoing work, plan upcoming projects, discuss team OKRs (objectives and key results), ask for feedback on project proposals, highlight risks and blockers, recognize achievements, and celebrate successes.

That’s a lot of stuff to get through in a single meeting, so it made sense to set up a separate meeting for our book club. We do however introduce potential books in our regular team meeting and then add it to a shared spreadsheet along with relevant information. We also use this spreadsheet to vote on the next book.

The spreadsheet looks something like this:

Book title Authors Pages Recommended by URL Votes
Thanks for the Feedback Douglas Stone, Sheila Heen 348 Krupa 6
The Art of Statistics: Learning from Data David Spiegelhalter 426 Raphael 2

We don’t follow a strict format in the book club meetings: When we read Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen, we discussed two chapters every two weeks, shared notes, talked about what surprised us and how we can apply what we’ve learned to our work. Due to project deadlines and work travel, we decided to complete Resilient Management by Lara Hogan and then have one extended book club meeting to talk about the entire book rather than a few selected chapters. Both book club formats worked really well for us.

We’ve decided to read The Mikado Method by Ola Ellnestam and Daniel Brolund next.

Start your own book club

You don’t need much to start your own team book club! If this idea sounds interesting to you, I suggest you talk to your manager and your team. Thanks for the Feedback and Resilient Management are both excellent resources for both individual contributors and managers and definitely worth their price. 💶

My team is fortunate in that we can expense the costs for the books through our professional development benefit at Mozilla. If you don’t have such a benefit at your company, maybe your manager can expense this through your team budget. Your team and company will benefit from it!


Do you already run a book club with your team? I’d love to hear about it. Do you have book recommendations? What do you think about this idea?

Please message me on twitter or send me an email. 👨🏻‍💻

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