Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Power of Moments by Chip & Dan Heath *****

The Power of Moments by Chip & Dan Heath is an excellent example of many management books focused on motivation and morale. When I was in charge of Research & Development at a long sequence of Silicon Valey start-up companies, I read many of similar books. They all offer magic formulas but are better considered as a source of a few extra tools.

This book is based on one piece of solid research: memory is not uniform. Beginnings, ends, and changes are recalled more often and more strongly than the quotidian routines. Surprises leave an impression, while consistency is forgotten. If you satisfy a customer 100 times and mess up once, they will remember the one problem. The authors call these memorable occasions "moments." The goal is to create as many positive moments as possible.

One example is a company that works to create a positive moment on the employee's first day. The is an occasion which is often ignored, but which also provides a chance to surprise the person and create a moment that will benefit motivation and morale for a long time forward.

"Beware of the soul-sucking force of "reasonableness."
Moments require personal attention and individual effort. Once new employee orientation becomes routine and optimized, the moment disappears. Most employee recognition programs fall into this trap. The goal is to keep the moments fresh. One of the keys is to care about the individuals. Moments are not one-size-fits-all. I found this was true of most motivation and morale issues.

Everyone--managers, employees, teacher, students--performs better when considered individually. An illustrative example is an experiment done with radiologists. One set of x-ray was read in the normal way, while the second set included a picture of the patient along with the x-rays. The x-rays with faces, literally, were read more accurately. The book includes many examples, where a situation was treated as non-routine with positive results. That might be the message of the book.

This is the challenge presented:
Life is full of "form letter in an envelope" moments, waiting to be transformed into something special.
If you manage people, this book will give you some good ideas and inspirations to improve the performance of your team. This is not the whole answer, but it is a solid step in the right direction.