Spine Crackers — Our Innovative Reading Group

A little over a decade ago, I started a book club with a group of girlfriends, and it has become one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Not only are these women now my greatest friends and often therapists, but they also have expanded my reading horizons beyond my favorite genres and authors. We often read books I never would have discovered or tackled on my own.

As I concluded my term on the ATD Detroit board, I realized that I had a somewhat daunting stack of to-be-read business and leadership books. I know a lot about how to fit reading into my day, but I started to wonder about adding an accountability factor that would lead me to success. Similar to my personal book club (but maybe with a little less wine and cheese), what if I had colleagues that depended on me to read at a given pace and finish a book? What if we planned discussion points and questions along the way? Would others be interested in joining me on this journey and holding each other accountable? So ILG Spine Crackers — Our Innovative Reading Group was born.

Here’s how I’ve set up the group to help weave the reading into our busy work lives:

  1. Reading each book happens over a period of two to three months — sounds slow, but it goes by fast!
  2. Discussions occur asynchronously using our corporate Slack group. This way, readers can participate when it’s convenient instead of having to have reached a certain page by a certain meeting at a certain time.
  3. Pace is prompted by weekly read-a-long questions; pages for the next week are announced ahead of time.
  4. Participation is optional. Readers can opt in if they are interested in the chosen book or opt out if not.

Like all good learning and development professionals, we’re piloting the group now to gather feedback and document lessons learned. After the pilot wraps up, we will tweak the setup and continue on our path to learning and growing together.

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