REVIEW: Drew Jones, PhD — Open Culture Handbook: Five Questions to Drive Engagement and Innovation (BOOK)

Colin Jordan
3 min readFeb 9, 2024

In a corporate landscape riddled with buzzwords and misguided attempts at cultural transformation, Drew Jones emerges as the beacon of sanity with his latest offering, Open Culture Handbook: Five Questions to Drive Engagement and Innovation. With a Ph.D. in workplace culture wizardry, Jones doesn’t just preach about reshaping company culture; he provides a practical roadmap for leaders to navigate the treacherous terrain of employee experience.

The book begins with a scathing critique of businesses’ flawed assumptions about culture, which, let’s be honest, have often been about as accurate as a fortune teller’s predictions during a thunderstorm. Jones throws shade at the top-down approach to culture change, highlighting the absurdity of trying to force-feed innovation like a parent trying to make a toddler eat broccoli.

One of the key strengths of Open Culture Handbook lies in Jones’ ability to distill complex concepts into a framework that even the most caffeine-deprived middle manager can grasp. He takes the reader on a journey through five fundamental questions that serve as the backbone of his approach. Questions like “How are people getting work done?” and “Where are people working?” aren’t just rhetorical flourishes — they’re the GPS coordinates to the hidden treasure chest of employee engagement.

Jones doesn’t just peddle theories; he grounds his insights in the bedrock of evolutionary science. It’s like he’s saying, “Hey, we’re all primates with laptops, so let’s acknowledge that and make our work environments conducive to our primal instincts for growth and innovation.” Who knew the secret to unlocking employee potential lay in our prehistoric past?

AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/Open-Culture-Handbook-Engagement-Innovation/dp/1637551177

The book’s charm lies not just in its hard-hitting facts but also in Jones’ occasional flashes of humor. It’s like having a witty guide lead you through the corporate jungle, armed with a machete made of irony. He punctuates his serious insights with a dash of levity, making the read both informative and entertaining.

Jones doesn’t stop at pointing out the problems; he’s also the bearer of solutions. Through instructive examples and case studies, he showcases companies that have cracked the code to these fundamental questions. It’s like a “Who’s Who” of corporate success stories, with a dash of Sherlock Holmes detective work on how they got there.

The handbook’s key messages are clear and resonant: contemporary management often treats employees like disobedient toddlers, and it’s time to shift that paradigm. Jones advocates for unleashing innovation, decentralizing decision-making, practicing radical transparency, and tying self-organization to accountability. It’s a rallying cry for leaders to shed their autocratic cloaks and embrace a more evolved, transparent, and accountable approach.

Open Culture Handbook is more than just a book; it’s a lifeline for leaders drowning in the sea of corporate jargon. It offers a tangible, actionable guide to transforming culture, making it a must-read for anyone navigating the murky waters of organizational leadership. So, grab a copy, take notes, and get ready to revolutionize your workplace — because Drew Jones is here to help you turn your office into an innovation powerhouse, one question at a time.

Colin Jordan

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Colin Jordan

Graduate: McNeese State University, Avid Beekeeper, Deep Sea Diver & Fisherman, Horrible Golfer