I consumed The Culture System by J.P. Nerbun in audio and kind of wish I didn’t. This isn’t any kind of slight on the book. The opposite, in fact. Though the narration was done by the author, who either was congested during the recording or has/had some kind of nasal thing that made him sound like he was. It wasn’t something obviously all the time, but if it’s the sort of thing that would bother you as a listener then you’ll want to stick to the print version.

The reason I personally would have liked to have gone the print route is the action items at the end of each chapter. It’d be nice to have those for quick reference.

But let me address the actual content.

I’ve said before that for me the sign of a good non-fiction book is that I find it triggering my thoughts to take off while reading. This book definitely had me thinking about a lot of things!

The first part of the book focuses on you as the coach. It’s about your leadership, behaviors and values, measures of success, and point of reference and focus. Obviously, every reader will come at this from there own personal perspective, so it’s a part that can impact individuals in widely different ways.

The second part sees the focus shift to the team. This is where you get into things like standards, onboarding new members, and organizing the leadership. For those who ponder the question of how to do captain selection and the like, there’s some quite good stuff here on that.

In the third part it’s supporting the culture that’s in frame. The subject matter here is on things like developing cohesion, communication, and bringing individual players along. This then roles into the final part that’s about enforcing the culture. Here’s where the author really dives into dealing with players who don’t meet the standards, don’t fit the culture, etc. I really like the discussion he has here on consequences of different types. It’s a quite useful way of thinking about things in this area.

All it all, I found The Culture System to be a very useful book for thinking about team culture, with useful action items. If you’re the type who likes to take notes, though, definitely get the text version. There are definitely sales pitches for the authors products and services intertwined throughout. That might annoy some. It doesn’t detract from the value of the material, however.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

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