I borrowed The Power of Habit from the library because it was mentioned in an advice column and because I have some habits I would like to change. Its conclusions are based on solid research, but my main criticism of the book is that it is exactly one of those management books I have learned to despise. I guess I should have known by the inclusion of the word “business” in the subtitle.
What characterizes these books is that they have very little actual content. They usually make a few points, no more than 10, and the lack of substance is disguised by filling the book with anecdotes and repetition. As some of them are very popular, I guess business managers haven’t figured out that one example doesn’t prove anything.
Unlike most of these books, this one at least is full of notes and other evidences of an actual basis in research. However, its emphasis is on changing habits in a business environment or community. Only the first few chapters, which are admittedly interesting, and the appendix have much useful application for an individual.
If you are interested in the neuroscience behind the conclusions in this book, you can probably find more in-depth information in its source material, which is abundant. The actual content of the book only takes up 286 pages, with the same concepts and simple illustration repeated endlessly, and the final 100 pages devoted to notes, source material, and an index.
If you are simply interested in this subject, the book is well written and easy to understand. Note that all of the raves on the back cover are by authors who write exactly the same kinds of books.
Duhigg is obviously talented, as he is a writer for the New York Times and a contributor to some serious news magazines. I would like to see him tackle something of substance.