Thursday, 19 October 2017

The Power of Habit - Book Review

The Power of Habit, written by Charles Duhigg, a New York Times reporter is both a fascinating and informative book. Duhigg takes a trip into the human mind and helps explain why we do what we do. Throughout the book Duhingg backs up his ideas with interesting anecdotes both about experiments conducted to research individuals habits, and experiences people have been through. All of this is written in an easy to read manner, which ensures the pages keep turning.

While the whole book touches on habits, it examines them into three distinct sections.

Part 1 - The habit of individuals
Part 2 - The habits of successful organisations
Part 3 - The habits of societies.

There is a very small section on the end which is a readers guide to using these ideas.

While these three sections are very much linked through looking at habits, each one could stand alone in its own right. Looking at these three distinct areas really makes you appreciate the power of being able to tap into habits. 

Part 1 of the book deals with why people have habits, and how the brain ensures you a carry out certain activities almost subconsciously. The three aspects of habits are discussed.

Cue —> Routine —> Reward

It certainly makes you more self aware about why you do certain things, and what you can do to change.

Part 2 then jumps into examining organisations, which was absolutely fascinating. From how an American Football coach went on to win the Super Bowl by changing players habits, to how Starbucks became a world leader. How a crisis can bring a company together, to how supermarkets know what you want to buy before you do! Quite wide ranging topics, but all linked with how scientific, and once you realise, how obvious habits are.

Finally in Part 3, Duhigg looks into how societies can change through habit. Duhigg uses the powerful anecdote of Rosa Parks, and how a small incident transformed a nation. In this section we also look at societies views on peoples habits, which touches on the moral and legal aspects of Habits.

When dealing with each of thee topics, whether explaining the science, or the history of what happened, Duhigg gets the level of detail right. You certainly don’t feel bogged down in the science, or too involved in the minute details of the history.

If I had to level any criticism at the book it would be that I felt the first part of the book was a little repetitive. While the final section on how readers should implement these ideas came across as a little bit of an after thought, and may have been better implemented in Part 1. However this should not put you off reading the book, but if you do find the book a little slow at first, it is absolutely worth persevering, as it matures as you progress.

Don’t be fooled into thinking this book is only for those who would like to stop biting their nails. When laid out in front of you, from so many perspectives you become aware that your habits control your life more than you realise. Even if you don’t have any habits that you want to manipulate, after reading this book, you will become aware your habits are already being manipulated by others, without your consent.