By Bob Nease
If a book is about a topic of interest to me, I’ll probably pick it up. If the book is based on science and research, but written by a practitioner, I’ll start reading it. If the writing is clear, includes stories and real world examples, I’ll likely keep reading. If within the first ten pages it has me thinking about things differently, or I am already telling stories or using examples from it, it is a clear winner.
For me, The Power of Fifty Bits is all of that.
The high concept of the book is that we as humans are wired for inertia, largely because we do almost everything on the auto-pilot of our subconscious. According to Neale, our conscious minds can process about 50 bits of information per second (hence the book’s title), but our subconscious can process 10,000,000 bits/second.
While I have long known our conscious mind is feeble in comparison to our subconscious, this gave me a new context and appreciation for the power of my (and your) brains!
The book describes how Nease and his team at Express Scripts have used this to design programs and processes to capture our 50 bits to help create changed behavior.
The book artfully walks the reader through their 7 step model, with chapters on each. They include:
- Require Choice—compel people to deliberately choose among options
- Lock in Good Intentions—allow people to make decisions today about choices they will face in the future
- Let It Ride—set the default to the desired option and let people opt out if they wish
- Get in the Flow—go to where peoples’ attention is likely to be naturally
- Reframe the Choices—set the framework people use to consider options and choices
- Piggyback It—connect the desired choice or behavior with something they already like or are engaged in
- Simplify . . . Wisely—make right choices frictionless and easy, make wrong choices more difficult
The book makes these ideas make sense and gives examples on how to make them work.
While not everything in this book was news to me, few treatments of some of the material come close to making it as practical as this does, and fewer make it more interesting.
If you are a leader, coach, marketer or parent, you will find this book of great value. If you are personally interested in reaching your personal potential, it will provide you with food for thought, and ways to overcome your own inertia and make real progress towards your potential.