The transformation required a radical, stealth operation. The company’s more than 12,000 leaders, the emcees who guide the local meetings, were put on PointsPlus so they’d have it mastered before the switch. This meant they were practicing one program while preaching another. Meanwhile, marketing and brochures needed to be updated, new smartphone apps, calculators, and cookbooks had to be developed, and the website needed to be overhauled. Miller-Kovach’s team compiled a new database of some 47,000 foods. All while, even in the executive ranks, people were questioning such a wholesale change. “Do I think at least 90 percent of the people who worked for Weight Watchers regretted Dave asking me that question? Yes,” says Miller-Kovach, referring to the initial meeting with Kirchhoff. “The business had at least quadrupled since the introduction of Points, and very few people in areas of responsibility had been through a program transition. When reality hit, it was big.”

Just after Thanksgiving 2010, Weight Watchers flipped the switch. Says Kirchhoff: “It was as though we went from dollars to euros overnight.”

“Weight Watchers Revamps Its Magic Formula.” — Jeffrey M. O’Brien, Wired

See also: “Putting America’s Diet on a Diet.” New York Times, Oct. 6, 2009