Power of Moments Book Review

Posted By: Danette Meyer AASPA Blog,

This past year the pandemic pushed all of us responsible for education talent management and culture to focus on the essentials: ensuring our people were safe and our students continued to learn. At this point, we’re grateful we made it through the year, while also starting to look ahead at a new school year when we hope to return to in person learning and refocusing on best practices and innovation. As I close out this school year and look ahead wondering where to restart strong culture work and innovation, I am reminded of the excellent book, Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath. The book offers a convincing argument on why it’s important not only to focus on fixing problems but also to focus on creating excellent and optimal experiences. In their book, the authors remind us of the excessive amount of time we spend focusing on what’s wrong, on “filling potholes” instead of creating optimal experiences and making memories. As you plan for the coming year and the opportunity for greater engagement and a stronger culture at your school district, you may want to include the book Power of Moments to seek inspiration. The book can offer a fresh perspective to consider how your human resources team can create defining moments throughout the employee life cycle in your district and make their experience truly extraordinary.

One of the aspects of the book that I have found most helpful in my practice has been what the Heath brothers offer as the characteristics of defining moments. They are moments of:

  • Elevation: They rise above the everyday and provoke memorable delight.
  • Insight: They rewire our understanding of ourselves in the world.
  • Pride: They capture us at our best - moments of achievement, moments of courage.
  • Connection: They are social and provide us with opportunities to build relationships

The authors then provide an approach for generating defining moments using these four defining characteristics. In this book you can learn strategies and from case studies of defining moments that have enriched the lives and experiences of customers, patients and employees.

In my own practice as leader in a school district I have been inspired by this book to strengthen our staff induction experience. When we redesigned the induction experience we integrated an experience of “elevation,” creating a truly fun and memorable moment. When we kick off induction week, on the very first morning for new hires, we do a welcome tunnel of cheering colleagues, friendly families and smiling students with a background of music provided by our digital learning director (a.k.a district DJ). At face value this might seem just fun, but by being an unexpected community experience it definitely elevates the moment and it sticks with you. It helps our new people feel really welcomed into their new work community. To bookend the induction experience, we close the week with a “pride” defining moment, an inspirational speech by a 20 year outstanding veteran teacher who then presents each new hire with a first year pin. The pride of a veteran teacher of our district matched with the pride of our brand new members is an emotional, memorable and culture building moment. Creating these moments was a team effort and have become uniting rituals that make our new hires feel more like becoming members of a special community rather than just starting a new job. Logistically speaking these are not hard innovations to integrate into our onboarding practices. The Power of Moments book provides inspiration and a reminder that even in the midst of challenging times, small changes can make a big difference. As we all know, engaged and enthusiastic educators are more able to do great things with our students.

Unfortunately, last year we had to let go of some of these new traditions due to the pandemic and the move to a virtual environment. Without the in-person social connections, our district’s defining moments were a little less present and impactful than in previous years. As I look ahead to next year I believe there are many opportunities to create new meaningful moments and build an ever stronger culture to meet our new challenges.

As you plan for your new normal, consider reading Power of Moments to spark post pandemic inspiration for culture defining moments for your team.