Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Power of Habit Read-along: Part 2

For the second week of the read-along we read part 2 of the book which focuses on habits in organizations.

I found this section of the book more interesting than the first part. The story of Alcoa's focus on safety as an illustration of the power of Keystone Habits was compelling. The idea that changing one aspect of an organization's dynamic (or a person changing one habit) can have a cascading effect on other aspects of the organization/life makes sense. As I was reading about Alcoa I was trying to figure out what keystone habit might be changed in my organization (a library) that would have a profound impact. I didn't come up with one yet, but am intrigued by the question.

The author also discusses the motivational value of a crisis, using Rhode Island Hospital as an example. I have worked in a couple of places that underwent huge changes as a result of economic downturns and I didn't see in any of them the kind of redesign that the author talks about. I think the kind of visionary leadership that it takes to use the opportunities a crisis presents to make real change in an organization is a rare thing. 

Chapter 7 covers theways that corporations, Target in particular, manipulate consumer habits. I knew this went on, but I did find the depth of the data mining somewhat surprising. I would have liked to know more about how the various activities, like what you buy in the store are linked to your "customer ID." The system design behind this process must be amazing. (I'm a bit of a computer geek, otherwise this probably wouldn't be of interest).  I will look at my Target circular more closely and how it compares to the one my Mom gets. I assumed, as Target expected me to, that the circulars were all the same.

 Check out Joy's Book Blog for thoughts from other read-along readers. 


  1. That's a good point that taking advantage of a crisis is going to take a special kind of leadership -- and if an organization is in crisis, how likely is it that leadership is ready and available?

    I'll be interested to know how your Target circular comparison turns out!

    Joy's Book Blog

  2. I'm interested to hear what you find, too! We don't get much junk mail, er, circulars here in Japan. Like you, the reading had made me think about my own institution's bad habits and how we might change to give better service to our students. I'm lucky in that the staff is very openminded. The sections about Alcoa, Starbucks, etc. make me nostalgic for my business major days at Mizzou from '82 to '86! (I have since studied for two masters degrees, in education and in ESL.)


  3. This part made me think about libraries, too. I wonder whether the author's remarks about organizations in crisis wouldn't really apply when the crisis is economic, because overhauls usually mean more staff time going into each procedure and there's going to be less staff after a layoff, for example. Interesting to think about!

  4. Did you finish the book, Mary? What did you think?

    Joy's Book Blog


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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