5 Must-Read Culture Books

Collectively, the CultureIQ family has read an extraordinary amount of books on culture. Not to mention, we’ve even written a few. (For example; the actual textbook on Company Culture)
We eat, sleep and breathe this topic and our very own Managing Director of Client Delivery, David Shanklin, curated a list of our top 5 must-read culture books. These books will inspire you through the use of hard data, quantifiable actions, past experiences and a healthy dose of literary genius. We hope you enjoy them as much as we have!

Happy Reading:


Book 1: Primed to Perform

Author: Neel Doshi & Lindsay McGregor


Primed to Perform is one of those books that will make you question everything you know. Doshi and McGregor will revolutionize your approach to culture using the latest in human psychology.

In addition to the latest in science, Primed to Perform offers an actionable and measurable culture tool to which they refer to as the “Total Motivation” or “ToMo” Factor. This tool gives the ability to measure the strength of a company’s culture based on 6 different motives or 3 contributors and 3 detractors:


  1. Play: Those motivated by ‘Play’ are most likely to succeed because the work is enjoyable and therefor rewarding in itself.
  2. Purpose: Those motivated by purpose are driven by the outcome of the work rather than the work itself.
  3. Potential: Those motivated believe the notion this work will eventually lead to something that aligns with his/her values as opposed to the direct outcome.


  1. Emotional Pressure: Those motivated by emotional pressure are essentially peer pressured. While rewarding in terms of self-perception and social judgement, this motive is far from the work itself.
  2. Economic Pressure: Those motivated by economic pressure are performing tasks solely for a reward OR to avoid punishment.
  3. Inertia: Those motivated by inertia are the least likely to succeed because this motive is furthest from the work itself. They are simply doing the work because it has always been done in that manner.

As the authors tackle motivation, expect to have your mind blow by the groundbreaking, counter-intuitive science behind some of the highest performing cultures. Spoiler alert: rewards and high praise aren’t always the answer.

Key Takeaway:

  • Never forget the importance of play in the workplace.

Favorite Quotes:

  • “Culture is too important to be left to chance.”
  • “Great cultures fuel total motivation, and total motivation fuels performance.”
  • “Culture is an entirely quantifiable and engineerable asset—and the most important one.”


Book 2: How Google Works

Authors: Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg ( With Alan Eagle, foreword by Larry Page)


First and foremost, this is NOT a culture book. How Google Works is a business book. (Which in our opinion makes it all that much more appealing).

Long standing Google executives, Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg give an insider’s take on how revolutionary work environments and creative people were the strategic assets that brought the internet giant to its height. While telling a riveting story and a few secrets along the way, Schmidt and Rosenberg offer concrete tactics and practices to launch and scale a successful business.

The story begins with them denying an urgent request from a board member for a detailed business plan and instead responding with “hire as many talented engineers as possible and give them freedom.”

What follows is the tale of a company that never compromised on who they hire, how they treat people, or the freedom given to employees.

Key Takeaway:

  • Culture is Strategic.
  • Autonomy is pivotal.

Favorite Quotes:

  • “You need to have confidence in your people, and enough self-confidence to let them identify a better way.”
  • “Innovative people do not need to be told to do it, they need to be allowed to do it.”