Maga's Bookshelf

What We’re Reading

In addition to the surplus of whiteboard surfaces, reading nooks, call rooms and festive decor (alright, maybe we love everything), one of the most popular features in the new Maga studio space is our library.  The incorporation of design, creative process, business and sociology literature has become an integral source of inspiration for the Maga crew. We’re fortunate that there is no shortage of thoughtful, design minded texts and we look forward to sharing our favorites with you!


The Power of Habit

We like this intriguing book by award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg, because of its inclusion of new scientific studies about the origin of habits, the importance of understanding them and key inhibitors to effectively changing them. He explains the necessity for habits to be instinctive — to a certain extent — referencing the statistic that approximately 40 – 45% of individuals’ daily actions are automatic. Navigating this substantial portion of our day on ‘autopilot’ frees up mental space for other, more imperative, spontaneous activity. Duhigg further explains this phenomenon in a thought-provoking NPR interview.

So what’s the benefit of understanding habits? Duhigg reveals the degree to which successful marketing taps into this understanding, focusing efforts on ‘teaching’ consumers new habits based on an association of reward connected to certain products. That said, Duhigg also makes the case that an appreciation for habits can be just as valuable — if not more — to the individual (versus corporations). The following two charts taken from the author’s website illustrate why.

How to Create a Habit


How to Change a Habit


The Back of the Napkin

Dan Roam’s Back of the Napkin was an instant Maga favorite because of the creative way he champions visual problem solving. He begins the book with a simple elevator pitch:

Visual thinking means taking advantage of our innate ability to see — both with our eyes and with our mind’s eye — in order to discover ideas that are otherwise invisible, develop those ideas quickly and intuitively, and then share those ideas with other people in a way that they simply ‘get.’

Like us, Dan Roam’s mission is to tackle information overload, arguing that visualizations expedite problem solving. Back of the Napkin functions as a tutorial for (1) how to identify which situations benefit most from the incorporation of strategic visuals, (2) understanding the diverse ways to visualize the same set of information, and (3) how to develop and sell the ideas that result from the visualization process.  Roam initiates the guide with his SQVID exercise, illustrated below.



In case you’re still not sold, Roam makes sure to reference the remarkably successful Southwest venture which originated on — you guessed it — the back of a napkin.

One afternoon in 1967 [Herb] Kelleher was sitting at the prestigious St. Anthony Club, helping his client Rollin King finish paperwork that would close Rollin’s failed regional airline. But Rollin wasn’t through with the airline business: He picked up a napkin and sketched a triangle on it. As he wrote San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas on one of each of three points, Rollin explained another crazy airline idea to Herb — an idea that four years later became Southwest Airlines.

Southwest AirlinesThe sketch helped facilitate the argument that they would be better served operating a small airline that served big cities rather than a small airline that served small towns. This methodology went on to become Southwest’s guiding principle — offering short routes between busy cities while avoiding hubs — quickly giving the airline an edge over larger competitors. While we can’t guarantee The Back of the Napkin will give you quite the same amount success, it’s definitely still worth a read.

Check back for more recommendations from the Maga library soon!

The Maga Library


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