Sunday, April 29, 2012

Data Mining to Target your habits !

I just finished reading the book "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg ( A must read for everybody in my opinion. But more about that in a later post). There is an interesting anecdote in the book about how the giant retail store Target performs data mining that I wanted to share with you..

It starts with the Marketing team wanting to market to parents before their babies arrived. The data mining teams gets to work and comes up with an algorithm (Habits like buying lot of unscented lotions as well as increased purchase of vitamins  etc.) and Coupons started to be sent to families where there was somebody pregnant. Everything is fine till an irate father walked into the local store and complains that Target was sending his high school daughter coupons for baby cloths and cribs ! He was worried that Target was encouraging his daughter to be come pregnant ! The manager apologizes profusely and cools down the man. The manager call the man back a few days to make sure he was okay. The father confesses that his daughter had spoken to him and she was actually pregnant and due in Aug !

Just imagine what happened. A person who lives with his daughter 24x7 has no clue that she is pregnant  while a machine sitting thousand of miles away could figure that out.

So next time you use your frequent buyer card, remember, you are sharing  a lot more information than you think !

Suddenly, privacy is no longer something you can take for granted !!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The power of teaching people to think better

One of my favorite quotes is "Give a Man a Fish, Feed Him For a Day. Teach a Man to Fish, Feed Him For a Lifetime". David Rock, in this excellent book "Quiet Leadership" takes these concepts to the next level and explains the reason for its effectiveness in a scientific and credible manner. He convinces the readers on the effectiveness of the idea and then provides a framework for executing this in our professional lives. This is a must read for all those who want to become more effective leaders and managers

Some of the key concepts he introduces are:
  1. It is difficult to "unlearn" old habits. It is much easier to teach people new habits which overrides the old ones
  2. People learn new habits better when they learn it themselves 
  3. Once people have new tools and know how to use them, they can teach themselves new effective habits 
  4. The tool of a better thought process is the ultimate tool since it can be used across all aspects of their life to become better and effective
In my first start up, my mentor taught me the concepts of "fire in the belly" - have the passion for what you are doing-  as well as "Set the bar high" - stretch goals make for better personal satisfaction/motivation.  So the thoughts presented in this book resonated well with me and reinforced the approach I have been adopting to mentor my team mates.

Read this book and let me know if you agree or disagree with the concepts...

Click here to go to the Author David Rock's personal blog. If you need to visit the official web site of the book, Click here