Book review: Culture Shock, by Will McInnnes



Disclaimer: I know Will. We work in the same town, in the same line of business and have evolved our approaches in parallel, you might say. We’re different in our views – but it is fair to say we share many values and models for understanding the world.

That said, he wouldn’t want me to be anything but honest…

So, who should read Culture Shock?

If there’s a spectrum of people starting with people deeply interested I ideas like democratic workplaces and ethical business and at the other end people who people who stress the primacy of the market and the progressive, positive influence of its invisible hand,  then it will be people who lean towards the former that will get the most from this book.

It’s a rallying call to sympathetic souls, to galvanise and have the courage of their beliefs to try and create different types of businesses.

In an endorsement at the start, Dan McQuillan nails it when he calls Culture Shock “the field notes of a pioneer”.

Will has absorbed the best books from Semler to Hsieh, the best case studies – from Noma to Gore – and spent the last decade or so putting them into practice in his own business.

The book is a rich seam of thinking, evidence and management how-to guides. If you are interested in how a transparent, democratic business might work, this book will tell you. And then give some evidence. Actually, the number of strong case studies is really impressive, and while you may have heard a couple there were a lot that were new to me and probably will be to you.

It is also completely without guile. This is not a self-consciously clever book, it is just clever. Though it was written by a talented public speaker it is not rhetorical – it is plain spoken, direct and practical.

This book is not for everyone. It will displease a lot of people. But, if you’re open to the idea of business with a more human, kinder streak to it, this is a brilliant, compelling, urgent read.

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