Recommended Reading (3Q 2019)

Callahan’s associates offer their take on the best books for credit union leaders.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business

by Charles Duhigg


Summary: Habits power our life; therefore, to change our life we must change our habits.

Of course, that’s easier said than done, and Charles Duhigg’s The Power Of Habit digs into the science behind these ingrained behaviors. Habits are the brain’s way of simplifying mental load one simple choice follows another, and, over time, we no longer make decisions consciously. Think about your morning routine or aggregated habits like working in a team environment and ensuring workplace safety.

Duhigg, however, is interested in how to change those habits. Put simply, one must understand the cue and the reward behind a behavior to change it. And while Duhigg teaches readers it’s almost impossible to totally shed a bad habit, the cues, rewards, and pathways that underly habits can be tricked to help us create powerful new routines.

Review: No, Duhigg doesn’t offer a prescription or a magic formula to inspire personal or organizational transformation. Still, his case studies and human-focused lens are educational and thought-provoking. When we look at our own financial life, the power of habit is quickly apparent. Which card to swipe. Where to swipe it. These elements our accumulated habits combine to create a powerful chemistry that powers member behavior and illuminates preferences. If a credit union can leverage data from product usage and digital or front-line channels, it can better understand its members. Knowing how members interact with your institution will lay a foundation for the credit union to delicately change their habits.

Of course, that’s easier said than done, but it starts with aligning tools and products to member preferences and supporting them as they work to improve their financial lives.

Charlotte Taft, Director of Business Intelligence, Callahan & Associates

A More Beautiful Question: The Power Of Inquiry To Spark Breakthrough Ideas

by Warren Berger


Summary: I’m a strategy consultant who realizes my clients are smarter than I am. They almost always know the right answers, but too often those right answers are to the wrong questions. My goal is to help them ask better ones.

Few have expressed the power of questions better than Albert Einstein, who said, If I had an hour to solve a problem I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask.

In A More Beautiful Question, Warren Berger takes this provocative idea further, advocating for a new culture of questioning in business, education, and everyday life and connecting many of the challenges we face today to societal attitudes that discourage questioning.

Review: Berger dives deeply into three forms of provocative questioning Why, What if, and How.

  • He explores how these questions drive innovation, design, decision-making, child-rearing, and personal relationships.
  • He shows how Sakichi Toyoda’s Five Whys conceived as a tool for critical fault analysis works on everything from understanding exercise habits to aligning design with human behavior at firms like IDEO.
  • He makes a powerful case for linking a company’s understanding of its purpose to its success at innovation What if we could become a cause and not just a company?

A More Beautiful Question is an engaging montage of stories, research, observations, and yes, questions deep, probing, and sometimes extremely uncomfortable questions.

In business and management, too much questioning is disdainfully referred to as analysis paralysis. The greatest praise often goes to those who default to action. But business consultant and Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen’s research shows that being an effective questioner is a key success factor among innovative executives.

Today, innovation is what drives business success. Berger offers a challenging set of reasons why more and better questions are the only real way to produce it.

Chris Howard, Senior Vice President, Callahan & Associates

This article appeared originally in Credit Union Strategy & Performance. Read More Today.

December 30, 2019

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