When I read a job offer from OCUS, one of the perks caught my attention: “Unlimited books”. Call me a book nerd – this sentence weighed in my decision to join. Now that I’m part of OCUS, I can tell you why it makes a difference.
You own your learning curve
In an ever changing environment when no-one has all the answers, it becomes everyone’s responsibility to keep learning on a daily basis.
Scott H. Young, in an essay about ultralearning, defines this kind of intense learning experiments as “taking responsibility for your own learning: deciding what you want to learn, how you want to learn it, and crafting your own plan to learn what you need to.” It’s common knowledge that some of the most famous entrepreneurs are avid readers, from Bill Gates to Steve Jobs, including Arianna Huffington and Elon Musk.
You’re the best person to know what you want to learn. You know your current challenges, what you already know or don’t. And it’s the company’s best interest to invest in everyone’s growth. Startups ask their teammates to be agile intrapreneurs, ever adapting jacks-of-all-trades as well as increasing experts – so they would do well to provide them grow and learn as they feel fit. An unlimited books policy is one step in this direction.
How does it work?
We have a Trello where people can add their wishlist for new orders (thank you to our intern Camille Touche for setting it up beautifully!). Everyone, from the CEO to the new intern, can place book orders. At the end of the month, we order the books and put them on the shelves when they arrive. Finished reading? Add your review on the Trello card of this book. Et voilà!
From the Library to the Coffee Machine
When several persons read the same book(s), it sow the seeds of a shared group culture. If you’ve ever discussed with a group of Harry Potter fans, you know what I’m talking about! Books create bonds and spark fruitful conversations. When you read the same book with someone, you have lived a common experience made of a unique set of ideas, world views, emotions, stories. Ask a colleague what book changed their life, and challenge yourself to read it within the next month. Inspiring discussions are guaranteed to spark.
Slow down to gain speed
Reading books takes time, while startups and scaleups are fast-paced ecosystem. Yet I believe that the fastest way to solve problems is sometimes to slow things down. Get a new perspective on your issue, and review calmly your options. Books are one of the most efficient ways to slow time, think again and gain in-depth insights. Or, as Hermione Granger would say – “When in doubt, go to the library”.
Get Inside-a-Book to Get Out-of-the-box
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” Haruki Murakami. There’s no rule regarding the kind of books you can order. We order novels and comics as well as non-fiction, self-help, tech or art books. This is how you not only gain new knowledge, but also get inspiration and foster innovation. What about you – what books would you add to the bookshelves?