Connecting People and Ideas to Create a World That Works For All—so what does that mean?
These are people seeking change in their lives, organizations, and communities. Whether they know it or not, these people are the smart, creative, compassionate leaders of the future!
These are ideas that help us see the world in a new way and redefine what is possible—ideas that provide not only inspiration and vision to give us the WHY but also tools that give us the HOW.
What is a world that works for all?
In essence, it is a world where we balance the needs of the person with the needs of the whole.
Our vision is emergent and continually evolving. We see the world as a place where our actions as individuals, organizations, communities, and countries embody stewardship, sustainability, quality, partnership, inclusion, and other values that support the well-being of us all. Ultimately, this world must come from all of us, working together.
We know we have a long way to go, but all of us can help the world get there, one day—and one book—at a time.
Berrett-Koehler was founded on “a deep sense of responsibility to administer the publishing company for the benefit of all of our ‘stakeholder’ groups—authors, customers, employees, suppliers and subcontractors, owners, and the societal and environmental communities in which we live and work” (a quote from our first catalog).
In 1991, Berrett-Koehler’s founder, Steve Piersanti, was leading Jossey-Bass, a California business book publisher owned by a big corporation in New York. Even though Jossey-Bass was highly profitable, one day Steve received a call from corporate headquarters ordering him to lay off more than 10 percent of the Jossey-Bass staff.
Steve refused to fire these people, so Steve was fired instead. Many Jossey-Bass community members were outraged. Steve’s phone at home rang off the hook with calls from authors, suppliers, and others encouraging Steve to start a new publishing company and offering book projects, credit, and other support.
Berrett-Koehler was the second book publisher to become a certified B Corporation, signifying that we meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Read about our certification here. Now Berrett-Koehler is the first book publisher to go beyond B Corp certification to also become a Benefit Corporation, which puts the force of law behind BK's longstanding social mission values, practices, and objectives. Read our press release here.
Everyone in the Berrett-Koehler community is entrusted to manage his or her area of responsibility to serve the greater whole. We embrace service over self-interest.
We make the best use of every resource and talent we have to make sure everything—from our finished books and products to our internal systems and processes—is the best it can be. We are always learning, growing, and evolving to meet and exceed our potential—and to help our authors, partners, and readers do the same.
Collaboration, dialogue, openness, and integrity are fundamental to the way we operate. We reject hierarchical relationships based on compulsion and force, and we seek to abolish class systems on every level.
We welcome and value differences. The world does not work for all if people with privilege are the only ones calling the shots. We strive to include and promote underrepresented people and perspectives. Currently, Berrett-Koehler is researching what it can do to increase the diversity of its staff and authors and create a diversity-friendly culture: read more here.
We choose to live and work consciously, mindful of the effects our actions can have on other people and on the planet. We seek to establish social, economic, and environmental systems based on balance and respect and that leave space for future generations to thrive.
Click here to view the full description of our values in our strategic plan.
Our organizations, our communities, and our lives as individuals get bogged down by old paradigms of leadership, hierarchy, self-interest, exclusion, and privilege. But we believe that can change.
Our books are about opening up new space for this change to flourish, about bringing people together around important ideas that make a difference in their organizations, in their communities, and in their lives.
The solutions to the world’s problems will come from all of us. When we are motivated by love, caring, and a desire to contribute, we can accomplish more than people who are scrambling to win. Learn more here
All our books champion change, just at different scales.
We believe the best way to grow and improve as individuals is to grow and improve our relationships and responsibilities to others. In other words—it’s not self-help; it’s us-help. All of us should strive to improve our lives in ways that are beneficial for our families, organizations, communities, nations, and world.
Because of their distinctive focus, BK Life books cut across various traditional bookselling categories, including personal development, inspiration, spirituality, psychology, career, communication, motivation, and personal finance. What these books all have in common is a focus on creating infectious positive change that starts with you.
There’s a full spectrum of topics—from improving your career skills to looking deep inside yourself and discovering your inner purpose. Whether you want a pragmatic book to help you become more successful or a heady book that will help you become more in tune with the universe of possibilities, we’ve got you covered.
Click here for a list of our BK Life bestsellers.
The sad truth is, so much of the business world has not changed with the times. It’s been decades since Peter Drucker pointed out that we can’t manage knowledge workers with stale techniques from Industrial Revolution–era factories. And yet many leaders, bereft of better tools, STILL rely on those ineffective command-and-control techniques to demand results.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Innovative leaders who realize hierarchy belongs in the past are finding ways to tap into the best potential of their people and deliver unbelievable progress.
BK Business books provide busy leaders, managers, workers, and scholars with quick, easy-to-understand, action-oriented tools to transform their work and their organizations. Since our founding, we’ve been the source of cutting-edge ideas and practices on humane, democratic, and revolutionary methods for starting, running, and transforming your organization.
Click here for a list of our BK Business bestsellers.
Sometimes it seems like the problems we face in society have no solution. Systems and institutions are stuck or stymied by complex bureaucracy or corruption and are failing to serve their purpose. Unjust or outdated beliefs and mindsets are lodged in our collective consciousness and persist indefinitely, even when we know they’re wrong. No matter what we do, society is endlessly plagued by injustice, inequality, and systems that subvert our humanity.
The solution is actually simple: change the broken structures on which society is based.BK Currents books are designed to lay the groundwork for implementing social change and solutions that stick. They do not offer band-aids or quick fixes. Instead, they get to the root cause of our problems—tackling the underlying beliefs, mindsets, institutions, and structures that keep generating the same cycle of problems, regardless of who our leaders are or what programs we adopt. The emphasis is on systemic change and progress toward a just and affirming world.
The need for these messages has never been so great. As the forces of arrogance, exclusion, and deceit continue consolidating power, we continue to believe that there is reason for hope. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” If you care about creating a just and equitable world, look inside our books. It’s time to stop fighting the “bad guys” and start fighting the bad systems.
Click here for a list of our BK Currents bestsellers.
Big Idea That Jumps off the Page— From the front cover to the back cover, from the introduction to the first and last paragraphs of each chapter, from graphs to images, BK books are crafted to get the prevailing message of the book out quickly and concisely, increasing the chances of a clear takeaway.
Knowing AND Doing—In general, our books have just the right combination of both theory and practice so readers can take what they’ve learned and apply the ideas in their everyday lives.
“Just Right” Length—You can be sure that we will publish just the right amount of words to support the messages of the book: not too many and not too few.
Connecting Ideas— We have a range of titles to help our readers become agents of change in their personal, organizational, and societal lives. After reading one BK book to help at one level of change, readers often expand their reading to books by other BK authors in the same area or to other areas of change.
Connecting People— Our readers share a passion to make the world a better place for all. We provide both live and virtual opportunities for readers to engage with authors and each other, to meet other change makers, and to collaborate on new ventures.
We don’t believe publishers should boss authors around. At Berrett-Koehler, we partner with the authors to make decisions on the cover, title, and direction of the book. At the same time, we give tough, honest feedback in response to author ideas. The goal of this feedback is to make sure the reader will see the authors’ value as clearly as we do. We want to be the wind in our authors’ sails.
When editing the book, we get detailed reviews from potential customers to help the authors decide how to hone their manuscript. When designing the book, we match the author with a freelance designer who has experience with and often love for the subject matter.
And our approach has paid off, delivering us bestsellers on a regular basis. (You may recognize some of them on our bestseller page.) Not only do our books become bestsellers in the United States, we help them become bestsellers internationally, with a robust network of international distributors and selling translation rights in as many languages as possible.
One of our most unique endeavors has been to build a community of authors who care about helping each other succeed. Our authors have formed a co-op (learn more about it here) that helps get the word out for everyone and provides warmth, teaching, and support. Berrett-Koehler also has a robust network of customers, organizations, book service providers, and media contacts who have a strong interest in our subject matter and look to us for high-quality material.
To learn more about the unique Berrett-Koehler publication process, read our founder’s article: “What Good Is a Book Publisher?”
We aren’t really in the book business; we’re in the business of connecting people and ideas to create a world that works for all. There are a million ways to do this, and we’re coming up with more every day.
Here are some of the new ideas we’re working on right now.
BKpedia— BKpedia is a digital database offering organizations and individuals access to hundreds of books, articles, and other unique learning resources from BK and other publishers— you’ll even have the option to contact many of the authors to ask questions! Expert curators will continually select the best materials available and organize them it into collections designed to meet specific organizational challenges. The first two collections will be Organizational Change and Innovation and Advances in Leadership and Management. To find out more, click here.
BK Expert Directory— Many of our authors provide consulting, speaking, and coaching services and can recommend people to do the same. If you want to bring a message of positive change to your organization, you can search for someone to hire in our Expert Directory (click here). Everyone in the directory holds a stamp of approval from BK authors or BK staff.
Books That Come Alive— We have digital specialists on our editorial team who focus on making your book come alive for the reader— whether it’s by adding videos to the ebook, creating quizzes with personalized infographics, or offering deep learning via the web or an app. Learn more here.
Strategic Plan— Beyond innovating with our books and products, we strive to implement an innovative business model, practicing stewardship and radical transparency. We take strategic planning very seriously, and you can read our full strategic plan here.
And while our focus is on creating books and products that contribute to our mission, Berrett-Koehler is not just a book publisher but a community bound by a common mission of connecting people and ideas to create a world that works for all. We extend the reach of our efforts by partnering closely with two external organizations:
The Berrett-Koehler Foundation, launched in 2013 by Berrett-Koehler, is dedicated to helping the next generation of leaders learn and implement systems-changing ideas and methods that foster positive change in people’s lives, organizations, and communities. More about the Foundation here.
The BK Authors Inc., originally founded in 1998 by Berrett-Koehler authors, is a membership organization that is dedicated to educating, mentoring, and providing services that support BK authors to create and market books that contribute to the mission of connecting people and ideas to create a world that works for all. More about BK Author Inc. here.