Charles Duhigg and The Power of Habit (why DO we do what we do?)

By William Seidman I’ve been reading New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. Duhigg summarizes the neuroscience research on habits and the formation of habits. It’s not self-help, but nonetheless his findings have helped readers think freshly about habits: how we form them and how to break them. He focuses primarily on what he calls the cycle of habit – cue, routine, reward. His examples are very tactical and behavioral and miss the work on positive images and purpose. I think that other research argues that the cycle of habit actually begins with a version of “reward” that is more like purpose than reward. I’m more interested in helping organizations than in breaking a cookie habit, so for me the best element in this book is the notion that organizations have a “keystone habit” that, if changed in a way that improves performance, will improve other habits. By changing the keystone habit, broader cultural transformation become possible. Duhigg’s notion of the keystone habit looks a lot like what I call “focusing on a key initiative.” Ultimately, Cerebyte guides people to take ownership of their learning. This is a keystone habit for all organizations and is independent of specific initiatives.]]>

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