Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Book Review: Green Beans and Ice Cream: The Remarkable Power of Positive Self Reinforcement by Bill Sims Jr.

Book Description from

October 15, 2012
Green Beans and Ice Cream? At first glance, they don’t sound like they go together. But this groundbreaking new book from author Bill Sims, Jr. will change forever the way you deal with your family, customers, coworkers, students, and yes, even your spouse! In Bill’s thirty year history, he has helped design more than one thousand behavior change systems that have produced tremendous gains in performance and profits at America’s top companies including Disney, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, General Motors, and Dupont. Hidden in this book you will find Bill’s “secret sauce”, and the recipe for rapid, sustainable behavior change and engagement--Positive Reinforcement (PR+) The book explains why positive reinforcement is one of the most powerful forces on the planet. Use it wisely, and performance moves off the chart. Use it poorly, and the results can be disastrous. Green Beans & Ice Cream analyzes over 100 years of research in the field of human behavioral science, and compares it to “real world, in the trenches” true stories that Sims recounts. It points out clearly that the thing we need the most, is the thing we often receive the least—positive reinforcement and feedback from those around us. Using the techniques outlined in this book, you can master the remarkable power of positive reinforcement, and make a real difference in the world around you. This book is for everyone who must lead others. Whether in the family, the school, or the workplace, it is a “must read” for anyone who wants to improve the performance of their team. With this first book, Sims has dropped a stone in the still pond of leadership. The waves will only get bigger.

My Thoughts

I had requested to read and review a copy of this book because I was captured by the title and the topic is an important for one for educators, parents, and anyone who works for a company. I wanted to read about what the author had to say.

The book overall is very easy to read. Here is a quick breakdown of things I liked.
  • very short chapters of key ideas to positive reinforcement
  • no dense research readings to burrow through
  • QR codes and links to articles, videos, and stories were very beneficial
  • ideas are practical and simple
  • questions and his ideas lead to a great conversation

A few things that I did not care for
  • The book is short under 150 pages. I did not like reading the same quotes or stories over several times. You would read one story and it would be mentioned again 5-10 pages later. Use more examples. If he has been speaking for 30 years he should have more examples than he knows what to do with.
  • The book did not provide any sort of system or plan to begin to move towards this whole idea of positive self reinforcement.
I enjoyed the book. I really did. I have a ton of highlights. It brought to mind many things in my own school district about what we do. He really goes after what many companies and businesses do to promote work and effort. I find that very interesting because he is challenging the systems in place. I liked that. I also found it interesting to see him argue against one of my favorites, Dan Pink. It really makes me want to create a book club to read this book, Drive, and some others to discuss the various perspectives on motivation and what works. It was good for me to read another perspective because I agreed with a lot of what the author was stating.

I think this book is well worth your time to read. I am going to go back through my 30+ highlights and create a discussion guide. I am thinking about even using the ideas as a Twitter chat. This books just makes the reader stop to think about policies in place where we work and to think about whether these policies are causing more harm than good. I am glad I read this book. It has given me much to think about and I will be pursuing some of these topics in further detail very soon.
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