Chip and Dan Heath are publishing their first book in 4 1/2 years. We have featured their previous books at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas, which are Made to Stick (Random House, 2007), Switch (Crown, 2010), and Decisive (Crown, 2013). I use Made to Stick as a required book in my MBA Business Communication course at the University of Dallas. Randy Mayeux has delivered a workshop around the principles of Decisive, that we have facilitated for several companies.
Here is a description of their new book, from an e-Mail that I received from them today:
In this book, the Heath Brothers explore why certain brief experiences can jolt us and elevate us and change us—and how we can learn to create such extraordinary moments in our life and work.
While human lives are endlessly variable, our most memorable positive moments are dominated by four elements: elevation, insight, pride, and connection. If we embrace these elements, we can conjure more moments that matter. What if a teacher could design a lesson that he knew his students would remember 20 years later? What if a manager knew how to create an experience that would delight customers? What if you had a better sense of how to create memories that matter for your children?
This book delves into some fascinating mysteries of experience: Why we tend to remember the best or worst moment of an experience, as well as the last moment, and forget the rest. Why “we feel most comfortable when things are certain, but we feel most alive when they’re not.” And why our most cherished memories are clustered into a brief period during our youth.
Readers discover how brief experiences can change lives, such as the experiment in which two strangers meet in a room, and forty-five minutes later, they leave as best friends. (What happens in that time?) Or the tale of the world’s youngest female billionaire, who credits her resilience to something her father asked the family at the dinner table. (What was that simple question?)
Many of the defining moments in our lives are the result of accident or luck—but why would we leave our most meaningful, memorable moments to chance when we can create them? The Power of Moments shows us how to be the author of richer experiences.
I have reached the point where I just need to quit reading. It is all so confusing. (This is not the first time I have reached this point…)
Malcolm Gladwell in Blink and the Heath brothers in Switch tell us that we are better off with fewer choices. Give us too many choices, and we arrive at decision paralysis.
Here are the key quotes from these two books:
If you are given too many choices, if you are forced to consider much more than your unconscious is comfortable with, you get paralyzed. Snap judgments can be made in a snap because they are frugal, and if we want to protect our snap judgments, we have to take steps to protect that frugality.
Decision paralysis. More options, even good ones, can freeze us and make us retreat to the default plan. This behavior is clearly not rational, but it is human.
Capuchin monkeys like change:
The implications of this simple experiment shed some light on consumer behavior, [Dan Ariely, the James B. Duke Professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University] said. Earlier work on variety-seeking has found that people eat 43 percent more M&M candies when there are 10 colors in the bowl instead of just seven. “People choose variety for variety’s sake,” Ariely said. “They often choose things they don’t even like as well just for the variety. We knew about this, so the interesting thing was to figure out how basic it is.”
Ariely is somewhat puzzled that humans can get stuck in a rut and not seek more variety. “Ask yourself: How many new things have you tried lately? Have you tried every cereal in the cereal aisle?” It may be that you’re enjoying a daily bowl of a cereal that you would rate as an 8, when just a few feet away on the shelf there is a cereal you’d rate as a 9, but you’ve never tried it.
Businesses can push variety on customers with assortment packs, Ariely suggests, and vicarious experiences like the Food Network can encourage exploration as well. “How do we get ourselves to explore? Even monkeys do it — so maybe we should also try more variety.”
So – we’re paralyzed by too many choices, and yet we like and want more variety.
I’m confused – again. It’s the story of my life!
Five compartments. She can stay afloat with the first four compartments
breached. But not five. Not five. As she goes down by the head the water
will spill over the tops of the bulkheads… at E Deck… from one to the
next… back and back. There’s no stopping it.
The pumps buy you time… but minutes only. From this moment, no matter
what we do, Titanic will founder.
But this ship can’t sink!
She is made of iron, sir. I assure you, she can. And she will. It is a
(Smith looks like he has been gutpunched).
It has all disappeared.
The way we worked, the way we organized work, the way we climbed within a company or organization in the logical and steady advancement of our careers – it is pretty much gone. And it is not coming back.
Maybe not for everybody. Not yet. But – it is already a done deal. The world has changed. “It is a mathematical certainty.”
I remember hearing an interview years ago with a factory worker. He had been laid off, and his job was not coming back. He had done nothing wrong. He was a hard worker, he showed up everyday, he kept getting promotions. But, the factory itself was not up-to-date, and the company was closing it. He was simply out of work. And not just out of work. He was lost. He sounded lost. You felt for him. He had spent his life as a conscientious worker. And now…nothing.
Here’s a quote from the book:
Many white-collar workers wear white collars, but they’re still working in the factory…
It’s factory work because it’s planned, controlled, and measured. It’s factory work because you can optimize for productivity. These workers know what they’re going to do all day – and it’s still morning.
The white-collar job was supposed to save the middle class, because it was machineproof. A machine could replace a guy hauling widgets up a flight or stirs, but a machine could never replace someone answering the phone or running the fax machine.
Of course, machines have replaced those workers… Worse, much worse, is that competitive pressures and greed have encouraged most organizations to turn their workers in to machines…
Our world no longer fairly compensates people who are cogs in a giant machine.
He then includes a simple drawing that illustrates that if your job description can be automated — and someone is trying to automate it right now! — you are doomed.
I’m reading Linchpin and feeling sad – challenged – invigorated – anxious. The sad part is that I know he is right, and a whole lot of people are in for it. The challenged and invigorated part is because it tells me why I have to keep moving, changing, growing. The anxious part — well, I don’t have to tell you. Every day, I have to keep finding new ways to make myself valuable to somebody. And that is… exhausting.
In Switch, the Heath brothers tell us that any time we have to think about doing something, anytime that what we are about to do is not on automatic pilot (i.e., needing supervision, where we have to pay attention to and supervise our actions), then we are faced with an emotional and physical energy drain. It takes little energy, especially emotional energy, to accomplish a task that is on automatic pilot. They put it this way:
Self-control is an exhaustible resource… Much of our daily behavior is more automatic than supervised, and that’s a good thing because the supervised behavior is the hard stuff. It’s draining.
Godin says that now, practically all work is going to have to be off of automatic pilot.
The quote above:
These workers know what they’re going to do all day – and it’s still morning.
Everybody now has a “job” in which he/she does not yet know what to do all day each day. You make it up/discover it/learn it as you go. And if you can’t do that, you can be replaced with some form of automation.
Update: please read the comments for some back and forth discussion and my attempt at clarification.
Karl Krayer and I have just completed our 12th year of monthly presentations of business books at the First Friday Book Synopsis.
Our webmaster (thanks, Dana!) has just uploaded a number of these on our companion website, 15minutebusinessbooks.com. When you purchase one of our presentations, you receive the handout, which includes representative key quotes from the book, and an outline of the content of the book. In addition, you receive the audio of our synopsis in an MP3 format, which you can listen to on your computer, load into your iPhone/iPod, of use in any other way you would like.
The way to take maximum advantage of this is obvious – listen to the recording while following along with the handout. This is what the participants at our live monthly event do each month. But you can get plenty of information by listening alone while you work-out or drive, or just by reading the handout alone.
Here’s a testimonial from the CEO of a mid-sized, growing company. He knew that a client was a fan of one the books we had presented, and wanted to discuss the book’s implications for his business. The CEO purchased our synopsis from our site, read over the handout (he did not have time to listen to the audio), and then met with his client. The client had read the book – the CEO had not. As they discussed the book, it was clear that our handout had provided enough of the important content that the CEO actually had a better grasp of the key content and transferable principles of the book than the other person had, who had actually read the book.
If you have never ordered from us, you might want to read the FAQ’s to understand where these presentations and recordings were made, and learn a little more about what we offer. Some of these were presented by my colleague Karl Krayer, and the others were presentations I made.
Here is a partial list of the new titles now available on our site. And more are coming each month.
Book author(s) Richard Wiseman
Presented at FFBS in 2010 March
|The Design of Business
Book author(s) Roger Martin
Presented at FFBS in 2010 February
Book author(s) Susan Scott
Presented at FFBS in TYBTL
|The Healing of America
Book author(s) TR Reid
Presented at the Urban Engagement Book Club
Book author(s) Robert Bloom with Dave Conti
|Mastering the Rockefeller Habits
Book author(s) Verne Harnish
Book author(s) Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Presented at FFBS in 2010 February
Book author(s) Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner
Presented at FFBS in 2009 December
Book author(s) Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Presented at FFBS in 2010 March
Book author(s) Kevin Maney
Presented at FFBS in 2010 January
Book author(s) Seth Godin
Presented at FFBS in 2009 January
|Tyranny of Email
Book author(s) John Freeman
Presented at FFBS in 2010 January
I’m getting frustrated (almost mad) – again…
I can barely use the two remotes on my TV. And the different remotes in the different classrooms I teach in. Each and every one is different! Why do they do that to us?
And I can barely navigate the web sites I read. I don’t know how to interpret all the boxes, phrases, buttons, tabs. I’m sinking in the ocean of change.
And now I read that I’ve got to learn how to use the internet “cloud.” And now I read that in the blink of an eye I’m going to have to buy a 3-D TV. And…
I don’t like all this change. I’m not yet adjusted to the last new product; new approach; new, new thing. And now there’s a new, new, new thing.
It’s kind of like my razor. I remember shaving with a single blade razor. For years! Then, for the next years, my razor had two blades. And the advertisers promised me that a closer shave would be impossible. LIARS! Because then they came out with three blades. And, yes, that was in fact a closer shave. And now, it’s four blades. Well – I’m drawing the line. When it hits ten blades, I’m stopping right there – I refuse to go to 11!
You get the picture. What is the norm today is already on its last legs. In nearly every arena.
Man, the change blizzard/ocean/onslaught is tough to deal with.
The Heath brothers tell me why I don’t like all this change. It is work to change. To not change takes no effort at all. To change requires actual effort. Here’s the quote from their newest book, Switch:
The status quo feels comfortable because much of the choice has been squeezed out… The most familiar path is always the status quo.
The familiar path is easier to follow. But — and here’s the lesson — it’s not necessarily the better, wiser path to follow.
I wish I did not have to change — so much. But I will. And so will you.
The right question:
“What’s working, and how can we do more of it?”
The wrong question:
“What’s broken, and how do we fix it?”
Look for the bright spots, the places where things are better — study them, copy them, spread the practices. This may be easier said than done, but it is absolutely critical to positive change.