The power of habit - Charles Duhigg
This book is about the Power of Habits told through a collection of stories. Each story is rich in detail and backed up by extensive research. In comparison to another popular book 'Atomic Habits', 'The Power of Habit' is less practical but in some ways even more profound.
The book is written in 2 parts. The first part looks at habits at the individual level. The second half examines habits at the organisational and at a societal level.
In the first part, the author discusses how self-discipline has a bigger effect on academic performance than intellectual talent.
There is a half a chapter looking at the Marshmallow Test - an experiment conducted in the 1960s where 2 groups of children aged 4 years old were given a choice: Take a marshmallow now, or wait a few minutes, and take two. Those that delayed the reward were found to have gone on to do far better in life. They were more popular, got better grades held down better jobs etc.
He uses this story to describe how our ability to focus is similar to a muscle; something that can be exercised and strengthened with practice.
The book also dives into a bit of habit theory. Those familiar with the Habit Loop consisting of a Cue --> Craving --> Routine --> Reward will find that this book goes deeper than a surface definition of these stages. It looks at how you can overcome bad habits by deconstructing the reward mechanism. Hugely insightful and it has helped me when helping others understand why they fall into certain types of behaviour.
At an organisational level, the book uses a number of case studies to illustrate how habits can take root amongst employees. Starbucks for example, decoded a regular customer complaint interaction into a useful pattern for customer service staff to use, anytime they met with dissatisfaction. The book goes on to describe how habits at a group level can be positively used to transform workplace culture.
Habits can also be the springboard for powerful movements at the societal level. There is an entire chapter devoted to the black civil rights movement in the US. It was fascinating to understand how the impact of strong ties between friends and acquaintances, sparked a movement that relied upon weak ties to catalyse entire communities to stand up against oppression.
If you read Atomic Habits and enjoyed it, then this would be a good complement to your understanding of habit formation. The case studies give you a deeper insight around how habits can change us, organisations and ultimately the world.
The book on Amazon. At the time of writing priced £8.19 for the paperback