Book Review, Posts

The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg

ThePowerOfHabit.jpg
Audible Audio-book
  • Title: The Power of Habit – Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change.
  • Author: Charles Duhigg
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Recommendation Score: 4.5 / 5

Book Review

The book deals with habit aspects, at individual level, in organizations and in societies. It is quite enjoyable to read. It helps you understand how habits work, how to create them and how to replace them (unfortunately they cannot be removed).

What I really liked about the book is the examples and how they are meshed with the results of academic research. Examples of ordinary people, organizations (Alcoa, Starbucks, etc.), sports teams, social and political movements (the civil rights movement, Saddleback church), etc. show how habits shape our everyday life, and how they are able to create dramatic changes if changed carefully.

Here are some takeaways

  • The habit loop: Cue –> Routine –> Reward. Once the cue appears, the loop is triggered.
  • The craving brain: the cue, in addition to triggering the routine, must elicit a craving for the reward. The brain starts to anticipate (crave) the reward as soon as the cue show up.
  • The golden rule of habit change: keep the same cue, the same reward, change the routine by inserting a new one. It is not easy, and it needs a Belief that the (permanent) change is possible.
  • Keystone habits: some habits are more powerful than the others, they are called “keystone habits”. They have an impact on other habits and have the power to change them. A very interesting example of Paul O’Neill, when CEO of Alcoa company, is presented to highlight how a keystone habit can transform an organization.
  • Small wins convert cumulative successes into routines.
  • Willpower: it is a very important keystone habit, it is a “muscle” that needs to be trained. It helps individuals to build self-discipline and to develop self-control.
  • Crisis are opportunities for good leaders to remake organizational habits.

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Book Review, Posts

Factfulness – Hans Rosling

Factfulness
Audible Audio-book
  • TitleFactfulness – Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World and Why Things Are Better Than You Think.
  • Authors: Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Recommendation Score: 5/5

Book Review

Factfulness is about how to get the world right. In a fast-changing world, where our brains are bombarded with a large amount of information all the time, this book helps the reader to build a fact-based view about the global events and issues. It provides some basic mental tools, that can be used by individuals (as individuals, or members in organizations and governments) to elaborate more insightful opinions and to take better decisions. The book is full of eye-opening facts and is very pleasant to read.

Hans Rosling, the main author, argues that young people today see the world, and think about it, as it was several decades ago (when their professors were young), and that older people has not updated their information since then. He proves this fact by a series of tests (multiple answer questions) like the following one taken from the book:QCM_Factfullnessand the gives you the right answer, with the percentage people who answered correctly in several countries as follows.

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Posts

Agility – Beyond Software Development

The digital technology industry has been moving in a very fast pace over the last decades. Companies that are unable to adapt have been left behind (Nokia, Kodak, etc.). Agility is a key skill for a company to remain competitive.

Since the Agile Manifesto for software development, declared in 2001, several software companies have been moving towards this mindset. Some companies went further, and adopted Agile way of development in industries other than software industry.

bobdylan_2275506bIf your time to you is worth saving
Then you better start swimming, or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changing.

-Bob Dylan

Is it possible for any company to apply Agile ? How about big companies, with complex organizations, top-down policies, rigid processes, over-specialized teams, and other bureaucratic burdens ? And above all, what is Agile and what is not Agile ? First, let’s review the life-cycle of a product.

Product life-cycle

A product life-cycle can be broadly divided into 4 phases as shown on the figure below:

Picture5
Product Life-Cycle

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Book Review, Posts

Everybody Lies – Seth Stephens

EverybodyLies
Audible Audio-book
  • Title: Everybody Lies – Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are
  • Author: Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Recommendation Score: 4/5

Book Review

The key idea of the book is the following: people lie to everyone, but when they are alone in front of Google, they confess their deepest secrets. Therefore, using Google (anonymous) research data is very helpful in several domains, including social sciences, medicine, marketing, political campaigns, etc.

The book is divided into 3 parts. The first two parts emphasize the importance of data, and the fact that almost ‘anything’ can be data; pictures, words, any real-world measurements, etc. The author gives interesting insights about the potential uses of Big Data. However, in some paragraphs, the importance and usefulness of Big Data seems to be exaggerated. In other paragraphs, some evident facts (in 2017) about data are presented as new discoveries.

The last part of the book is the most important part to me. It deals with questions such as:  how do we handle Big Data? Can we trust all data? What data? Data correlation vs. causality, how much is data relevant? Big Data and the empowerment of corporations and governments?

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