The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact (2017) by Chip & Dan Heath is their latest work by the brothers Heath, authors of Switch and Made to Stick.  They argue in this book that we tend to remember our lives in flagship moments—the peaks, the pits, and the transitions. (9)  The book, then, serves as a nice reminder of paying attention to moments.  As school leaders, we benefit from helping to shape and create these moments.

This ‘moment-spotting’ habit can be unnatural.  In organizations, for example, we are consumed with goals.  Time is meaningful only insofar as it clarifies or measure our goals.  The goal is the thing.  But for an individual human being, moments are the thing.  Moments are what we remember and what we cherish. (18)

As we create and cement our school cultures, paying attention to those moments is worth our time.  Think of those moments: acceptance letters, orientation, back to school, first day of school, homecoming, spirit weeks, promotions, final exams, graduation, etc.

Then the authors turn their attention to moments of elevation when we try to create peak experiences.  They use as an example a mock trial put on in a high school.

‘Schools need to be so much more like sports…in sports, there’s a game, and it’s in front of an audience.  We run school like it is nonstop practice.  You never get a game.  Nobody would go out for the basketball team if you never had a game.  What is the game for the students?’

The quote above from a principal illustrates how a school focuses on creating peak experiences.  They then turn their attention to customer service.  Which scenario is more effective—trying to raise the experience of the highly negative customers (who give a service a rating of 1-3) or trying to raise the experience of the “good” customer (ranking 4-6) into “outstanding.”  Most companies spend 80% of their time on the former but the authors argue that there is much more value trying to make the average customers into loyal ones.  How would that impact how you are spending your time?

The book serves as a good reminder of the importance of creating rituals, focusing on positive experiences, and building brand loyalty in your school.

More resources:

  1. The Heath Brothers website
  2. Fast Company review
  3. Chip Heath video discussion
  4. Publishers Weekly book review