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Quality Digest


The Culture Puzzle

Harnessing the forces that drive your organizations success

Published: Wednesday, April 7, 2021 - 11:00

(Berrett-Koehler Publishers: Oakland, CA) -- Whether you’re building a team, implementing new strategy, or boosting productivity, culture can make or break your efforts. But culture sometimes baffles even the smartest business leaders. All too often they think culture will take care of itself, but it won’t.

In their new book, The Culture Puzzle, corporate anthropologists and culture experts Mario Moussa, Derek Newberry, and Greg Urban have teamed up to show how leaders can create the kind of culture that nurtures engagement, innovation, and growth.

the culture puzzle cover“Anthropologists specialize in culture, but for too long their expertise has been largely out of reach for leaders and managers. Not anymore. This is a stimulating, sensible guide to understanding—and improving—the values and norms of your workplace.”
—Adam Grant, bestselling author of Think Again and host of the WorkLife podcast

The guidance provided throughout The Culture Puzzle can be applied by leaders at any level of an organization—from global CEOs to team captains, managers, and supervisors, and even small business owners. The authors support their advice with dozens of examples from corporate America as well as stories about a wide range of characters including athletes, social reformers, rogues, scientists, novelists, and business executives, all of whom illustrate “the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to culture.”

The Culture Puzzle dedicates chapters to each of the Four Forces that drive success, and uses stories to reveal how they shape workplaces in settings as varied Fortune 500 companies, sports teams, and small start-ups.

Throughout, New Yorker cartoonist Kendra Allenby illustrates the living, pulsing energy behind people going about their business and trying to get ahead:
the culture puzzle

Moussa, Newberry, and Urban also help readers assess the health of their organizations’ culture. By using the proprietary “Culture Evaluator” tool, they will discover which
aspects of their company culture need attention. Critical questions include:
1. Envision. Does your organization’s culture embrace a clear and compelling vision?
2. Listen. Do your leaders invite and listen closely to the stories people tell about their essential interests: relationships, achievement, and purpose?
3. Reflect. Do your leaders engage in constructive dialogues with everyone in the organization about aligning the desired culture with people’s needs in order to create new habits?
4. Experiment. Do you consistently organize and launch innovative small-scale projects designed to harness the controlled chaos of innovation?

Based on the authors’ extensive field research and real-world experience. The Culture Puzzle can help readers build the kinds of companies that serve all stakeholders and thrive amid constant transformation.


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For 40 years Quality Digest has been the go-to source for all things quality. Our newsletter, Quality Digest, shares expert commentary and relevant industry resources to assist our readers in their quest for continuous improvement. Our website includes every column and article from the newsletter since May 2009 as well as back issues of Quality Digest magazine to August 1995. We are committed to promoting a view wherein quality is not a niche, but an integral part of every phase of manufacturing and services.