When we started Flux7 in 2013, Aater and I were first-time entrepreneurs. While we knew we wanted to create a workplace that everyone enjoys coming to and being a part of, we weren’t versed on the best steps to take to get there. So, we started reading. (Actually, it started with Aater reading books and m listening to his summaries, but soon I started reading, too). Reading books really helped me learn and improve. So much so that I wanted to discuss every book I read with my coworkers, (now I understand why Aater shared all those book summaries) which led to the creation of the Flux7 Library.
We quickly realized we couldn’t cost-effectively share every book with a 100% remote team; the cost of shipping books would very quickly exceed the cost of a book itself. So, we decided we needed an e-book lending solution. Finally, we found OverDrive. Many of you may have seen OverDrive being used at your public library. They have recently added a corporate version of OverDrive to provide corporate e-book and audiobook libraries.
We rolled out our library right before the holiday season to give people a chance to pick holiday reading. Just a few months into the project and I am thrilled to see the results -- both in terms of the library and the interest our team has in continuous learning.
Enabling a Culture of Learning
At Flux7, two of our corporate values are innovation and humbleness. (Transparency rounds out our triad of values, which you can read more about here.) These values require us to constantly learn and improve.
This commitment to learning is both a part of our internal culture and how we engage with customers, with our “teach how to fish” model of consulting. The library underscores our commitment to trust employees and invest in continuous learning as we have created a policy that if you believe reading a book will help you in your work at Flux7 then we will purchase it for the library. The only caveat: you must promise to add a review of it in the Flux7 wiki.
As a leader in the organization, I’ve found it really empowering to have this library. I wanted people at Flux7 to be continuously learning and improving. In conversations around ideas, I’ll frequently refer people to books in our library. Some books offer organizing principles while others serve to create camaraderie.
In the two months since this initiative was launched, 70 books have been checked out from our library. Not too shabby for an organization that has around 60 employees. Some of these are repeated checkouts by the same person because they couldn’t finish the book by the end of the checkout period, but still not too shabby.
What We’re Reading
The most checked-out book (audio and e-book) is “Dare To Lead” by Brene Brown with about 15% of employees having read it. To the point about sharing and camaraderie, internal mentors have been reading this book, spurring others to read it as well. Our second most checked out book goes to the theme of improving our collective communication skills. Called “Nonviolent Communication,” it has been read by about 10% of Flux-ites. Rounding out the top three popular books is the DevOps classic “The Phoenix Project”.
The fact that the top-read books are about communication rather than technical may come as a surprise to people. But to me, they reflect the amount of collaboration, introspection, and leadership at all levels within the organization. This is in line with our very strong focus on an Agile enterprise mindset. Which requires individuals to look back and talk through mistakes in a blameless environment and for everyone to focus on improving.
In addition to the “The Phoenix Project”, “The DevOps Handbook” and “A Seat At The Table” have also been very popular. This shouldn’t be a surprise since finding technical information can be done very easily online, but some of the hardest problems in enterprise DevOps are around scaling the successes in a large organization. Hence the popularity of these books.
As I mentioned, we can’t help sharing a good book. So, we plan to periodically share highlights and/or reviews with you in the Flux7 DevOps blog. However, if you are interested in gaining first-hand access to the Flux7 library, we welcome new teammates with a passion for learning. Check out our currently open positions here. Customers also gain access to the Flux7 library. To learn more about engaging with Flux7, contact us today.