Monday, March 12, 2012

The Power of Habit

Title:  The Power of Habit
Author:  Charles Duhigg
Publication Information:  Random House. 2012. 400 pages.

Book Source:  I received this book through the GoodReads First Reads program free of cost in exchange for an honest review. The book came as a paperback advance reader's copy.

Favorite Quote:  "All habits....have three components....There's a cue...a routine...and a reward."

The Power of Habit is subtitled Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. It presents one approach to why individual and organizational habits form and what can be done to change them. It presents the idea of the habit loop - a trigger, a routine or habit, and the reward.

The book presents numerous examples of the application of this habit loop at a personal and corporate level. Examples range from army operations in Iraq to Pepsodent toothpaste and Febreeze, from a person's mid-afternoon snack to the operations of large companies like Starbucks and Alcoa.

The idea is a conceptually simple one. Change the routine in a way to respond to the trigger and get the same reward. Practice it over and over again until you do it without thinking - in other words, until it becomes a habit. I find it a useful framework to keep in mind but not a magic solution to changing all bad habits. Implementing this idea is the real challenge. The examples in the book provide a glimpse of how individuals and companies have successfully done so.

I really enjoyed reading this book. At a basic level, the book is an entertaining read, and the example stories are a fun look at our culture and some people and companies that are household names. At a more thinking level, the framework in the book provides a valuable tool for personal growth. It is not the answer for every bad habit, but definitely for many. Now the question is, can I apply it effectively in my life to change some habits? Can you?

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