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The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business - Charles Duhigg I liked this a lot. I think Duhigg did a good job of using examples to build his points. It was logical, incremental, and well written. Part one: the habits of individuals. How habits work. Cue – routine – reward. The craving brain. New habits are created by putting together a cue, a routine, and a reward, and then cultivating a craving that drives the loop. Part two: the habits of successful organizations. He looks at Alcoa (new CEO turns the company around by focusing on worker safety, a keystone habit that is foundational for a lot of other good practices that they needed to focus on. It was something that labor and management could agree on, so it was a great place to start. Starbucks and the habit of success, when willpower becomes automatic. Rhode Island Hospital – a toxic work environment where everyone deferred to the surgeons, resulting in many dramatic errors. A crisis forced an attitude overhaul. How Target analyzes data to predict and shape your buying habits. On ‘keystone habit’: “It might have been hard at another company to fire someone who had been there so long,” O’Neill told me. “It wasn’t hard for me. It was clear what our values dictated. He got fired because he didn’t report the incident, and so no one else had the opportunity to learn from it. Not sharing an opportunity to learn is a cardinal sin.” P. 124 “At the core of [Starbucks] education is an intense focus on an all-important habit: willpower. Dozens of studies show that willpower is the single most important keystone habit for individual success. …[Starbucks] executives recognized that success required cultivating an environment that justified paying four dollars for a fancy cup of coffee. The company needed to train its employees to deliver a bit of joy alongside lattes and scones. So early on, Starbucks started researching how they could teach employees to regulate their emotions and marshal their self-discipline to deliver a burst of pep with every serving… The company spent millions of dollars developing curriculums to train employees on self-discipline. Executives wrote workbooks that, in effect, serve as guides to how to make willpower a habit in workers’ lives.” P. 131-132“If you want to do something that requires willpower – like going for a run after work – you have to conserve your willpower muscle during the day,” Muraven told me. “If you use it up too early on tedious tasks like writing emails or filling out complicated and boring expense forms, all the strength will be gone by the time you get home.” P. 137The LATTE method. We Listen to the customer, Acknowledge their complaint, Take action by solving the problem, Thank them, and then Explain why the problem occurred. P. 145 – Interesting example of “naming it” – a method that I just read about in Practice Perfect.Organizations’ habits/routines. “Most economists are accustomed to treating companies as idyllic places where everyone is devoted to a common goal : making as much money as possible. Nelson and Winter pointed out that, in the real world, that’s not how thing work at all. Companies aren’t big happy families were everyone plays together nicely. Rather, most workplaces are made up of fiefdoms where executives compete for power and credit, often in hidden skirmishes that make their own performances appear superior and their rivals’ seem worse. Divisions compete for resources and sabotage each other to steal glory. Bosses pit their subordinates against one another so that no one can mount a coup.Yes despite this capacity for internecine warfare, most companies roll along relatively peacefully, year after year, because they have routines – habits – that create truces that allow everyone to set aside their rivalries long enough to get a day’s work done. “ p.162How new songs are marketed, new products are promoted: “Whether selling a new song, a new food, or a new crib, the lesson is the same: if you dress a new something in old habits, it’s easier for the public to accept it.” P. 210Part three: Habits of societies. Rosa Parks as an example of strong ties (lots of firsthand relationships) and dozens of groups throughout Montgomery that didn’t usually come into contact with each other (weak ties). “Which is why the second aspect of the social habits of movements is so important. The Montgomery bus boycott became a society-wide action because the sense of obligation that held the black community together was activated soon after Parks’s friends started spreading the world. People who hardly knew Rosa Parks decides to participate because of a social peer pressure – an influence known as “the power of weak ties” – that made it difficult to avoid joining in.” p. 222The third aspect of how social habits drive movements: for an idea to grow beyond a community, it must become self-propelling. Give people new habits that help them figure out where to go on their own. P. 239The neurology of free will chapter looks at compulsions, addictions, and actions done unconsciously. “Once you know a habit exists, you have the responsibility to change it. By trying hard, you (could) rein in the habit.” P.271Appendix. A reader’s guide to using these ideas. 1. Identify the routine,2. Experiment with rewards. Test different hypotheses to determine which craving is driving your routine. Are you craving the cookie itself, or a break from work? If it’s the cookie, is it because you are hungry? Can you substitute a different food? Or do you want to socialize in the cafeteria? Can you socialize in a different way that doesn’t involve mindless eating? Look for patterns. After each activity, jot down on a piece of paper the first three things that come to mind when you get back to your desk. Then set an alarm for 15 minutes. When it goes off, ask yourself: do you still feel the urge for that cookie? Writing down the 3 things forces a momentary awareness of what you are thinking or feeling. Writing down a few words also helps in later recalling what you were thinking at that moment. At the end of the experiment, when you review your notes, it will be much easier to remember what you were thinking and feeling at that precise moment. 3. Isolate the cue. Experiments have shown that almost all habitual cues fit into one of five categories: Location, Time, Emotional state, Other people, Immediately preceding action. Write down these 5 things the moment the urge hits.4. Have a plan. Write a plan. “At 3:30 every day, I will walk to a friend’s desk and talk for 10 minutes.” He sets his watch alarm to do this. It doesn’t work immediately. But on the days that it did, he ended the workday feeling better. Eventually, it got to be automatic. When he couldn’t find anyone to chat with, he went to the cafeteria, bought tea, and drank it with friends.