The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
, by Charles Duhigg (Random House, 2012).
Charles Duhigg, a New York Times reporter, makes learning about habits fascinating and fun. It’s not just personal habits, mind you — Mr.
Duhigg spends a great deal of time on collective habits, habits that become part of a corporate culture.
For example, the author examines a culture of safety created at the aluminum company Alcoa. By focusing on safety and making it a habit, Paul O’Neill made Alcoa one of the safest places in the world to work, but he also made a much better corporate citizen and a more profitable
Mr. Duhigg also writes about the former CEO of Starbucks. When Howard Schultz left the company he built, one now with over 20,000 stores, it floundered. The stock price was headed into deep-South territory. When Schultz returned, he recreated an environment where employees had freedom and yet were totally focused on the customer. As you probably know, Starbucks has found itself once again and is thriving big time. The author shows us how this transformation has been based on the successful nurturing of great habits
It’s not just business; it’s about organizations. The book asks us to consider the Montgomery bus boycott and the amazing Saddleback Church. As to the former, Rosa Parks was on the bus in a section where either blacks or whites could sit. Ms. Parks was not the first person to refuse to obey the law on buses in Montgomery, Alabama, but she was, all the same, a person who had earned great community respect. Therefore, news of her arrest spread like wildfire throughout Montgomery. Had Parks not finally
broken a habit pattern, and had the bus driver not overreacted, the bus boycott might not have happened when it did. It was a fuse that lit an entire portion of the country.
Saddleback is of course the story of Rick Warren, who has a 20,000-member congregation in Orange County, California. His book, "The Purpose-Driven Life," has sold over 30 million copies, and he has even been the moderator for a presidential forum. How he got there from a fellow with a pregnant wife and around $2,000 is a fascinating story.
You’ll meet all of these folks and more in this remarkable book, "The Power of Habit." And you might even be encouraged to work on a few good habits.