Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard (Hardcover)
Thought-provoking and actionable insights (with a caveat)
Customer rating 4.0/5.0
March 22, 2010 By Sreeram Ramakrishnan
19 out of 22 found this helpful
This is a fun, entertaining and informative book that succeeds in providing an interesting framework to define/analyze/effect "change". Other reviewers have very ably summarized some of the key insights and the narration style.
Even though the narration and the use of well-chosen examples (not a surprise for repeat readers of Heaths) presents an seemingly convincing framework, one cannot help but wonder if there is a variation of what behavioral scientists call "confirmatory bias" in these discussions. Clearly, the savior of the St Lucian parrots or the Vietnam nutrition activist and the countless other examples mentioned by the authors didn't do what they did thinking they will end up as Exhibit A in an excellent book. They didn't have the benefit of the framework and yet succeeded. So, perhaps, picking and choosing these examples to fit a pre-defined conceptual framework, shortchanges the concept itself. Who knows how many people tried similar or identical methods and failed! That could indicate that it is very dangerous to attribute a success (or a failure) to suit one's preconceived notions of any conceptual framework. This is not necessarily a knock on the book itself, but one needs to be aware of the limitations of cherry-picked examples, particularly with no counter examples.
A more serious reader may have benefited from a rigorous debate on the framework itself or what I think was one of the fundamental premises of the authors (buried deep in page 154, "thats why it is so clumsy when people reach for incentives to change other peoples behavior"). A recent book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us seems to argue the opposite - incentives work and they work best in terms of motivating changes. Perhaps the truth is a composite of these two (and many other) viewpoints. To me, this differentiation, and the discussion on identity/consequences model alone is worth investing in this book.
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