Recently finished reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg; fascinating read about how we form habits, how to change them, and (like it or not) how we can use them to sell products.
Duhigg explains the science behind habits in great detail, which makes you appreciate the real-world case studies he includes even more. The consumer side of me loved how Paul O’Neill’s sole focus on employee safety when he arrived at a struggling Alcoa lifted all boats. Not only did his focus save lives, it produced greater plant efficiency and unlocked significant innovation.
The marketing side of me loved how Andrew Pole created an algorithm at Target that used their deep customer database to identify customers that are likely pregnant based on their recent purchases (i.e. unscented soap, vitamins, hand sanitizers, etc.).
Three things stuck with me after finishing the book:
- Observing consumers “in situation” more valuable than any focus group: Another case study details how P&G’s initial launch of Febreze was a flop. It wasn’t until they observed many people cleaning their homes – showing their “mundane” habits – that they figured it out. Now it’s a billion dollar brand.
- Look to Keystone Habits to transform the organization: Paul O’Neill’s focus on worker safety is an example of a “Keystone” habit. These particular habits start a “chain reaction” of changing other habits for the better. Workers at Alcoa got more freedom and “amnesty” to speak up or shut-down the production line if there was a risk to safety. This inspired workers to suggest manufacturing changes that increased productivity.
- Have a plan when something goes wrong: Duhigg details how Starbucks trains their baristas well beyond making lattes. They have a consistent plan of how to respond to an upset customer. Rather than making it up as they go along, baristas have a simple five step plan.
Now I’m thinking about how to apply some of these at the agency; how about perfect timesheet entry as a keystone habit?