Book Review: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

habit

Rating: 3.5 / 5

In a nutshell, Charles Duhigg has written a book on habits in society, in business, and in personal lives.  The Power of Habit is divided into three sections-the first on explaining what a habit is, how habits work, and how they can be created and changed.  The second part focuses on habits in companies and organizations, and the final section details the role of habits in society.

Duhigg breaks a habit down into three components: routine, trigger, and reward.  He focuses on the fact that bad habits can be changed but changing the routine, so that what triggers the habit, and the final outcome is still the same.  While the stories are interesting, there is little in the way of helping people try to change their habits, although to be honest, I’m not sure that was Duhigg’s intention in the first place.

By far, I thought section 2 was the best.  Although the premise of companies acquiring vast amounts of data on all its patrons is well known, I found the conclusions drawn fascinating and creepy.  I remember reading about how Target’s statisticians and quant gurus could predict who was pregnant and due when, but reading the backstory was interesting.  I also liked learning about Paul O’Neill, former CEO of Alcoa, and how he got a whole corporation to change culturally.

Overall, I thought the book was enjoyable.  I much prefer anecdotes over hard statistics, so this book was right up my alley.  I thought some examples were spot on, while others meandered or were only tangentially related to habits (Rhodes Island Hospital).  I wouldn’t suggest this to someone looking to evaluate his own habits and change them, but I think Duhigg did a decent job of explaining habits in a broader, macro lens.

 

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