How to Start a Technical Book Club at Work

If you’re looking to build a culture of technical knowledge in your workplace, starting a book club can be a great way to achieve that goal. When done right, a technical book club will help your team members learn how to execute their business strategy by applying concepts they learned in the reading material.

BlogEducationHow to Start a Technical Book Club at Work

If you’re looking to build a culture of technical knowledge in your workplace, starting a book club can be a great way to achieve that goal. When done right, a technical book club will help your team members learn how to execute their business strategy by applying concepts they learned in the reading material.

How to Start a Technical Book Club at Work

Choose a book

When it comes to choosing a book for your technical book club, there are several things to keep in mind. The goal is to pick a title that will encourage lively discussions among your group members.

Some books are not suited to discussion because they offer little substance or have little in the way of interesting points for debate. Others may be too difficult for your group members to read, or they could be very long (James Joyce's Ulysses requires a college course in reading comprehension).

The best option is to pick a book that is a good fit for your team’s interests and needs. Start by asking questions about an area of concern or improvement for your team, and find a book that offers insight into the topic in question.

You can also choose from a selection of books already on your library’s shelves, or ask your local library or bookstore to provide you with recommendations. Most libraries have lists of recommended titles and 'librarian picks' that will make it easy for you to find titles that suit your group.

For the most part, you’ll want to select your book choices at least two meetings in advance, so that everyone has time to buy/borrow the books and read them before the meeting. You’ll want to keep your selections short, with page lengths in the 250-325 range.

As a general rule, avoid books that touch on sensitive issues or subjects. These may be enjoyable to some members, but they could also bring discomfort or anger to others. Rather, look for novels that combine multiple genres and are written by authors from a variety of backgrounds.

Another way to ensure that everyone enjoys your book selection is to allow members to vote on it. Alternatively, you can rotate the selection, with each member choosing a different book for each month.

It’s also a good idea to keep the selection diverse and include books by authors from a variety of backgrounds, as well as those with a historical or sociological significance. This will encourage your group to engage with different perspectives and opinions, which can lead to an exciting reading experience!

Find a venue

A technical book club can be a great way for your team to learn and grow in their careers. But you need to plan and host the book club properly to ensure that the discussion is successful.

A book club can be a fun way for your team to socialize and enjoy reading together. However, it can also be a challenge to keep it going. The key is to organize the book club meetings and keep track of time.

Start by choosing a book that is appropriate for the group. Some groups choose books that are relevant to the culture of the organization, while others focus on nonfiction. The most important thing to remember is that your book club should be fun, engaging, and informative.

Find a venue that is convenient for your group. It should be within walking distance of most members’ homes or places of work, and it should offer good food and drink options.

Consider the acoustics of the venue. Many book clubs have reported that they have better conversations in rooms with high ceilings. Adding acoustic clouds or canopies to improve the sound quality of the space is one way to make it more enjoyable.

Another option is to use a virtual meeting space like Zoom. This will allow you to divide the room into different breakout sessions, which can be useful for smaller groups that want more focused discussions.

Some book clubs meet in restaurants and cafes, where the ambiance is conducive to lively discussions. But you can also choose a venue that is more informal, such as a community center or synagogue.

You can find a variety of venues to choose from in your area by using an event listing website or event-planning tool like Peerspace, Unique Venues, or EventUp. These sites help you search for local events and then narrow down the venues by criteria, such as price, size, and location.

Once you’ve found a suitable venue, you’ll need to plan your event. This will include finding speakers, setting up ticket sales, and more.

In addition, you’ll need to decide how many people will attend your book club. You’ll need to consider their interests, age, and experience level. In some cases, you might need to hire a facilitator or moderator to help run the meeting and guide the conversation.

Set a date

A technical book club is a great way to bring your team members together. They can spark stimulating discussions, increase empathy in the workplace and help employees align with business strategy. They also boost employee engagement, and they're an affordable tool to bolster your talent optimization efforts.

First, you'll need to decide when the book club will meet. Depending on the size of your group, you can choose to meet once a month, every other month or even quarterly. Just remember that it's important for everyone to have enough time to read the book and prepare for the meeting.

Next, decide who will lead the discussion. Ideally, you'll have someone different take the lead each week to help encourage diversity in your book club. This can be a volunteer or someone on your management team. You'll also need to set some social rules for your book club up front, such as a commitment to sharing the reading material in an open format and agreeing on pre-defined questions that are appropriate.

The last thing you want is a book club where people fight, feel embarrassed or simply don't feel comfortable with their opinions. Luckily, it's not impossible to set up a democratic book selection process that makes everyone feel comfortable.

Once you've got a schedule and the right group of participants, you can get ready to launch your technical book club at work! Once you've chosen a book and picked the right date for your meetings, make sure to set up an RSVP system with an online sign-up.

Another great thing to do is put together some activities for your book club members. These could be an in-person lunch or an extra event that you'll schedule throughout the month, such as a game night or summer BBQ. This will help you build relationships and foster collaboration between your team members, while keeping your book club organized and on track with the topics of discussion.

As you start your technical book club at work, remember to include members from all departments. They will all benefit from the conversations and you'll see a more unified, cohesive workforce in the end!

Make a plan

Starting a technical book club at work can be a fun and rewarding way to engage with colleagues while learning new things. But before you begin, make sure you have a plan in place to ensure the group will run smoothly.

The first step in making a plan is to decide what type of book club you want. This depends on your company’s core values, current business challenges and what you believe will resonate with your employees. Some book clubs focus on professional development in a specific area while others are more recreational and open to any and all genres of books.

In my engineering team, we use a book club as an opportunity to share knowledge about industry trends and practice our leadership expertise (Always Be Learning). We also encourage people to act like owners by putting what they learn into practice by using it to improve our tools and practices.

For example, after one discussion about consumer-based contract testing, engineers formed a small tiger team to see if they could come up with a prototype for such an environment. Those ideas and feedback make their way to the VP of Platform, Michael Stahnke and CTO, Rob Zuber, and eventually become part of our toolchain and architectural decisions.

Getting started with a technical book club is easy; all you need to do is select a topic that interests your team. Having members select their own selections, voting for which they like the best, is a great way to get everyone involved in the decision-making process.

You can ask members to email you with their suggestions or create an online poll. Depending on the number of people in your group, you may choose to assign a set number of chapters per week. This will allow you to have plenty of material to discuss at the meetings.

Another option is to have a discussion leader designated to facilitate the discussions. This will help ensure everyone feels comfortable with the conversations and has a clear role to play.

Once you have a few participants in your book club, you can start planning for the next meeting and make sure everyone is ready to go. This can include setting aside a few hours in the morning for the meeting and getting food and refreshments ready to share. It’s important to make a plan that works for your entire group so you can avoid having members miss the meet-ups due to scheduling conflicts. In addition, it’s a good idea to have a virtual option for those who are traveling or aren’t able to attend the meeting in person.


Thursday, December 22, 2022