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The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact Hardcover – October 3, 2017
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"I read this cover to cover and learned something new on each page. Beautifully written, brilliantly researched--I'm recommending it to everyone I know!"—Angela Duckworth, New York Times bestselling author of Grit
“The most interesting, immediately actionable book I’ve read in quite a while. I walked away with new ideas for motivating employees, delighting customers, engaging students, and even planning family vacations. If life is a series of moments, the Heath brothers have transformed how I plan to spend mine.”—Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take, Originals, and Option B with Sheryl Sandberg
'Chip and Dan are amazing and impactful story tellers. In The Power of Moments, they are able to use stories to display a powerful truth, that we can be more impactful as leaders and as people by recognizing and creating more “moments”. At Virgin Atlantic, helping our people create [such] amazing moments for each other and for our customers is a nice new way of articulating an underlying goal of great leadership. This book truly frames that thinking in an easy to understand and engaging way. Perhaps even more importantly, I can see many similar opportunities in my life as a husband, father and member of a community.'—Craig Kreeger, CEO of Virgin Atlantic
“A sincere introduction to how readers can shape and improve the peaks in their own experiences. Infused with positivity and enthusiasm…. Readers hungry for a bigger slice of life will find this book valuable. Heuristic advice and life-affirming direction form a gratifying combination in this motivational handbook.”—Kirkus
“This terrific book is bursting with practical insights and memorable stories on every page. It's as relevant to product designers and meeting planners as it is to teachers and parents. I've already put many of its novel suggestions to work. Don't miss it.”—Eric Ries, author of bestselling author of The Lean Startup, The Startup Way
"Flat out amazing."—Jake Knapp, New York Times bestselling author of Sprint
"Chip Heath of Stanford and Dan Heath of Duke argue persuasively that any organization that creates peak moments--for its customers, its employees, or its students--will enjoy benefits that range from fanatical loyalty to revenue growth. In this entertaining and informative read, they explain just how to create those moments and how to turn them into a competitive advantage."—BizEd
"The Power of Moments packages together countless hours of research and interviews, as well as dozens of illustrative examples, in digestible, accessible, and entertaining prose....Moments offers something for everyone—medical practitioners rethinking the patient experience, corporate leaders re-imagining staff engagement, small businesses looking to differentiate themselves, teachers crafting more memorable lessons. Like Switch and Made to Stick, two of the authors’ previous books, The Power of Moments is particularly useful for the social sector, in which change agents face daunting challenges in the fight for social justice, economic equality, and environmental protection. All those desperate for blueprints for creating the extraordinary should read this book."—Stanford Social Innovation Review
About the Author
Chip Heath is a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, teaching courses on strategy and organizations. He has helped over 450 startups hone their business strategy and messages. He lives in Los Gatos, California. Chip and his brother Dan have written three New York Times bestselling books: Made to Stick, Switch, and Decisive. Their books have sold over two million copies worldwide and have been translated into thirty-three languages including Thai, Arabic, and Lithuanian. The Power of Moments is their most recent book.
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In this book, The Heath Brothers dissect what, specifically, makes a particular experience memorable and meaningful. Then, based on these attributes, they challenge us to "be the author of them." So why should you care?
In business, the whole notion of creating an exceptional customer experience (CX) is at the top of everyone's minds. And some have done a great job at defining some basic attributes. (For example, see Lior Arussy's book, Exceptionalize It). The Heath Brothers take it one step further to provide further ideas to springboard and implement CX thinking. It certainly has got my brain thinking!
In my life, I can also see how these principles apply. Many years ago, after my second child was born, a dear friend shared her secret to raising great kids. She said, "Your job is to make positive memories. As they get older, that's what they remember." And now that my kids are grown and flown the nest, when I asked them, "What do you remember about your childhood?" they replied some simple things - like making sure I made a favorite chicken buffalo sandwich for school. I never understood how that was important, but now I do. (hint: it relates to a transition and connection).
So if you want to be more intentional about making magical moments at work and in your life, I highly recommend this book.
Here’s the big idea: “A defining moment is a short experience that is both memorable and meaningful.” And…oh, my—are we in short supply of significant moments in our boring staff meetings, workplaces, churches, schools, and homes. You can change that!
Buy this book for:
YOUR STAFF. Here’s an idea: bring popsicles to your next staff meeting and play the audio from the first chapter, “Defining Moments,” and ask the team why the Magic Castle Hotel in Los Angeles does this:
“Let’s start with a cherry-red phone mounted to a wall near the pool. You pick it up and someone answers, ‘Hello, Popsicle Hotline.’ You place an order, and minutes later, a staffer wearing white gloves delivers your cherry, orange, or grape Popsicles to you at poolside. On a silver tray. For free.”
What will your staff learn? “What the Magic Castle has figured out is that, to please customers, you need not obsess over every detail. Customers will forgive small swimming pools and underwhelming room décor, as long as some moments are magical. The surprise about great service experiences is that they are mostly forgettable and occasionally remarkable.” (p. 9)
YOUR FAVORITE CHARITIES. If I could wave a magic wand, I’d ask every relief and development organization leader to read Chapter 5, “Trip Over the Truth,” about a methodology called Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS).
The authors begin with a warning to readers: “The story ahead is full of disgusting images, and it also makes frequent use of the ‘s-word” for feces.” The researcher in this Bangladesh brilliant/brilliant epiphany “believes that it’s a mistake to soft-pedal the word using medical terms…or more kid-friendly terms. When he works in new countries, he makes sure to ask for the crude slang… He wants the word to shock.”
The researcher’s ingenious approach to dramatically improved community health is the polar opposite of the way leaders, teachers, and preachers seek change. Instead of pulpits, podiums, and lecterns, Dr. Kamal Kar used observation, probing (shocking) questions, and demonstrations. Brilliant! (p. 97)
YOUR TEACHERS. In the chapter “Stretch for Insight,” the authors describe a study of 44 seventh-graders who wrote essays about a personal hero. Teachers marked up the essays and Group 1 students received generic feedback. Group 2 students received personalized “wise criticism.” Both groups could resubmit their essays in hopes of higher grades. You guessed it: almost 80 percent of Group 2 students resubmitted compared to about 40 percent of the first group. (p. 122)
YOUR PASTOR. Whew. How do pastors inspire a congregation—weekend after weekend, 52 weeks a year? (Few do.) But creative teams can create extraordinary experiences along the way—by defying “the forgettable flatness of everyday work and life by creating a few precious moments.” (p. 265)
And speaking of teaching, don’t skip the insights about a weeklong program, the Course Design Institute (CDI). “The dirty secret of higher education [and maybe seminaries] is that the faculty aren’t taught how to teach,” says Michael Palmer, a chemistry prof at the University of Virginia. So Palmer invites groups of 25 to 30 profs, per course, to meet the ugly truth in the mirror.
It begins with an interactive fill-in-the-blanks exercise, where each prof completes one sentence: an aspirational objective for students that will be realized three to five years later. Then each prof compares that aspiration with his or her course syllabus. Palmer asks, “How much of your current syllabus will advance your students toward the dreams you have for them?”
You guessed it! Chip Heath and Dan Heath describe one prof’s head-slapper moment, after an awkward silence: “You look at your syllabus, and you go, ‘Zero.’” (p. 106)
The book includes a link to a complete syllabus with “before” and “after” examples—showing how a professor changed the content, as a result of the weeklong course.
You should also buy this book for:
PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS. The dinner table question from Spanx founder Sara Blakely’s dad: “What did you guys fail at this week?” (p. 130)
HR TEAM. On creating extraordinary moments on a team member’s first day on the job: “Imagine if you treated a first date like a new employee.” (p. 18)
MARKETING STAFF. “One simple diagnostic to gauge whether you’ve transcended the ordinary is if people feel the need to pull out their cameras. If they take pictures, it must be a special occasion.” (p. 63)
FUNDRAISERS AND OTHERS. On the topic of unheralded achievements in the chapter, “Thinking in Moments,” the authors ask: “We celebrate employees’ tenure with organizations, but what about their accomplishments? Isn’t a salesman’s 10 millionth dollar of revenue earned worth commemorating? Or what about a talented manager who has had 10 direct reports promoted?” (p. 36)
And I’d add: And what about celebrating a single mom’s faithful $10-a-month donor gifts when her total giving reaches the $500 or $1,000 milestone? That’s a moment to celebrate! Plus, don’t miss the creative way one organization sends personalized thank you notes to donors. (p. 151)
BOARD MEMBERS. Recently, I played the book’s audio of “Clinic 1: The Missed Moments of Retail Banking” to my fellow board members at Christian Community Credit Union. The question, “Could banks learn to ‘think in moments’?” Convicting—but very, very applicable to all organizations.
I could go on—but you get my drift. This book changed—changed!—my thinking in so many ways. You’ll appreciate the powerful and poignant stories. Example: how a priest gathered a widow’s friends together (five years after her husband had died) for a therapeutic wedding vows ceremony—but in the past tense. “Were you faithful?” The result: she was finally ready to date again.
You’ll underline the “whirlwind reviews” for each of the four major sections (Elevation, Insight, Pride, and Connection). You’ll be delighted by the bonus resources, like the “clinics,” the free app referenced, “36 Questions,” and why one company empowers employees to give away a certain number of free drinks and food items every week! (p. 73)
The “Clinic 2” (p. 89) is a must-read about church boards. The question: “How do you refresh a meeting that’s grown rote?” One approach: “Break the script.”
And finally, Chip Heath and Dan Heath warn: “Beware the soul-sucking force of reasonableness.” Example: “Couldn’t we just put the Popsicles in a cooler by the ice machine?” (LOL!)
The moment when you look at your manager doing the same work as you, only with larger numbers, and you realize that you will be her if you stay in this job for the next ten years. And so, you make plans to leave. That moment when you find your calling because of something someone says spontaneously, as they catch you doing something exceptional.
In very accessible book, the brothers, Chip and Dan Heath examine defining moments, identify the traits they have in common, and what makes a particular experience memorable and meaningful.
They demonstrate how defining moments share a set of common elements. More importantly, they demonstrate how you can create defining moments by using those elements.
Why would you want to create them? “Our lives are measured in moments, and defining moments are the ones that endure in our memories,” they explain.
Their insights are critical lesson for anyone in a service business (as we all are), in management, and in our personal lives.
A study of hotels reviewed on TripAdvisor shows that when guests say they experienced a “delightful surprise,” (or what the Heaths call a “moment’) 94% unconditionally recommend the hotel, but only 60% of guests who were “very satisfied,” will do the same.
Can you remember your first day at your current company? Most likely it was not a defining moment.
The receptionist didn’t think you were starting until next week. She shows you to desk with the previous incumbent’s remnants. Your boss has not arrived yet. Eventually, a friendly person from your floor introduces herself and then interrupts 11 people by introducing you to them. You have managed to annoy all your colleagues within the first hour. You immediately forget all their names.
Compare that to joining John Deere office in Asia.
Soon after you accept employment there, you get an email from a “John Deere Friend.” She introduces herself and shares some of the basics: where to park, what the dress norms are, and tells you that she’ll be waiting to greet you at 8:00 on your first day.
The flat-screen monitor in reception has a headline: “Welcome, Sam!” Your John Deer Friend shows you to your desk where there is a tall banner that alerts people that you are new. People stop by during the day and introduce themselves. The background image on your monitor is a gorgeous shot of John Deere equipment on a farm at sunset, with the caption: “Welcome to the most important work you’ll ever do.”
The first email you receive is from the CEO of John Deere with a short video, in which he talks about the company’s mission, and closes by saying, “Enjoy the rest of your first day, and I hope you’ll enjoy a long, successful, fulfilling career as part of the John Deere team.”
There’s a gift on your desk - a replica of John Deere’s 1837 plow, and a card explaining why farmers loved it. Your Friend fetches you for lunch with a small group who ask about your background and tell you about projects they’re working on. Later, your manager comes over and makes plans to have coffee with you next week.
You leave the office that day thinking, I belong here; the work we’re doing matters. And I matter to them. This is a defining moment, a relatively short experience that is both memorable and meaningful.
So, how are defining moments created? The Heath’s have identified four elements.
Moments are created by “Elevation” – going beyond the normal course of events to create the extraordinary. A bouquet of flowers from your bank, celebrating the opening the opening the bond so that you can acquire your new home and thanking you for choosing them.
Defining moments can also rewire our understanding of ourselves or the world through an “Insight”. In seconds or minutes, we realize something that might influence our lives for decades: Now is the time for me to start my own business, or this is the person I’m going to marry. It can also be a “crystallization of discontent,” when you suddenly see an awful truth about a situation or person that you have ignored.
When we attain important milestones, we experience moments of “Pride”. These are defining moments because they catch us at our best, in moments of achievement, showing courage, earning recognition, or conquering challenges.
Moments of “Pride” usually involve having our skill noticed by others. Much research show that while 80% of managers claim they frequently express appreciation, less than 20% of employees report they do. Surveys find the top reason people leave their jobs is a lack of praise and recognition and the absence of ‘Pride’.
The corporate response has generally been to create recognition programs, like ‘Employee of the Month’ awards or annual banquets recognizing star performers. These programs are inadequate - one employee per month! How about recognition weekly or even daily? And the formality of corporate programs often breeds cynicism.
The last element of moments that are defining is that they are social moments of “Connection”. Weddings, graduations, baptisms, work triumphs - are strengthened because we share them with others.
“If you want to be part of a group that bonds like cement, take on a really demanding task that’s deeply meaningful. All of you will remember it for the rest of your lives.”
People don’t connect as deeply around ‘passion’ as they do around ‘purpose’. Passion is the feeling of excitement or enthusiasm that you have for your work or interest. ‘Purpose’ is the sense that you are contributing to others, and that your work has broader meaning.
Passion is individualistic, and while it can energize, it also isolates, because my passion isn’t yours. By contrast, purpose is something people can share. It can knit groups together.
In a study of 32 paid lifeguards, one group read four stories describing how other lifeguards had benefited from the skills they acquired on the job. The second group read four stories about other lifeguards rescuing drowning swimmers. The difference between the two groups was striking.
The group that read about the meaning their work had for others voluntarily signed up for 43% more hours of work in the weeks following the intervention, and their helping behaviour increased by 21%. There was no increase in helping behaviour or hours worked by those who read about the personal benefits of the job.
These differences in behaviour were produced by nothing more dramatic than a 30-minute of reading and talking about what they read. Such is the power of moments of ‘Connection.’
Some powerful defining moments contain all four elements, and using all adds even more impact.
Three situations deserve punctuation. Some are “transitions” such as a new job, or retirement. “Milestones” such as promotion or graduation, and “pits” such as divorce or the death of a loved one.
We will benefit greatly by being alert to these opportunities and the huge value they can hold if done well. A good place to start is to read this book.
Readability Light --+-- Serious
Insights High +---- Low
Practical High +---- Low
*Ian Mann of Gateways consults internationally on leadership and strategy, and is the author of the recently released ‘Executive Update.