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Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard Hardcover – February 16, 2010
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"Change is hard." "People hate change." Those were two of the most common quotes we heard when we began to study change.
But it occurred to us that if people hate change, they have a funny way of showing it. Every iPhone sold serves as counter-evidence. So does every text message sent, every corporate merger finalized, every aluminum can recycled. And we haven’t even mentioned the biggest changes: Getting married. Having kids. (If people hate change, then having a kid is an awfully dumb decision.)
It puzzled us--why do some huge changes, like marriage, come joyously, while some trivial changes, like submitting an expense report on time, meet fierce resistance?
We found the answer in the research of some brilliant psychologists who’d discovered that people have two separate “systems” in their brains—a rational system and an emotional system. The rational system is a thoughtful, logical planner. The emotional system is, well, emotional—and impulsive and instinctual.
When these two systems are in alignment, change can come quickly and easily (as when a dreamy-eyed couple gets married). When they’re not, change can be grueling (as anyone who has struggled with a diet can attest).
In those situations where change is hard, is it possible to align the two systems? Is it possible to overcome our internal "schizophrenia" about change? We believe it is.
In our research, we studied people trying to make difficult changes: People fighting to lose weight and keep it off. Managers trying to overhaul an entrenched bureaucracy. Activists combatting seemingly intractable problems such as child malnutrition. They succeeded--and, to our surprise, we found striking similarities in the strategies they used. They seemed to share a similar game plan. We wanted, in Switch, to make that game plan available to everyone, in hopes that we could show people how to make the hard changes in life a little bit easier. --Chip and Dan Heath
(Photo © Amy Surdacki)
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Top Customer Reviews
Moreover, the Heaths invoke a few extended metaphors. The most important of these are the Rider (i.e. our rational side), the Elephant, (i.e. our emotional and instinctive side) and the Path (i.e. the surrounding environment in which change initiatives will be conducted). The challenge is to direct the Rider, motivate the Elephant, and shape the Path to make change more likely, "no matter what's happening with the Rider and Elephant...If you can do all three at once, dramatic change can happen even if you don't have lots of power or resources behind you."
Donald Berwick offers an excellent case in point.Read more ›
The book is arranged around an analogy that illustrates the crux of emotional intelligence: when making a decision we are typically torn between our rational, logical reasons and our emotional, intuitive feelings. Chip and Dan ask us to imagine an Elephant and its Rider (the mahout). The Rider represents the rational and logical. Tell the Rider what to do, provide a good argument and the Rider will do it. The Elephant, on the other hand, represents our emotions, our gut response. If the Rider can direct the Elephant down a well-prepared path then there is a good chance for change. Otherwise, the massive elephant is bound to win.
The book is structured into three sections, each one suggesting specific behaviors you can follow:
I. Direct the Rider:
- Find the bright spots
- Script the critical moves
- Point to the destination
II. Motivate the Elephant:
- Find the feeling
- Shrink the Change;
- Grow your people
III. Shape the Path:
- Tweak the environment
- Build habits
- Rally the herd
Another must read on the topic is Emotional Intelligence 2.0
"Switch" suffers from the three main problems that I've found in nearly all popular business books. First, it presents claims without sufficient justification. This book focuses on techniques to facilitate change in organizations and individuals, and while it occasionally cites interesting work in cognitive and social psychology that may be relevant to the techniques suggested, for the most part the justification for the techniques is anecdotal: technique X worked at company Y in particular instance Z, and so it's obviously a valid technique that's always applicable. There's no attempt at any sort of rigorous scientific testing of such a claim. For example, in chapter 2, the Heath brothers claim that you cannot focus on why a proposed change is failing to take hold, but must instead "find the bright spots," i.e., identify the pockets where it is working, figure out why it works there, and then try to emulate the small successes elsewhere. They describe several case studies where this approach has led to successful change, including a project to improve childhood nutrition in Vietnam, and an intervention with a misbehaving ninth grader.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a great book! It's easy to read and very interesting. Very fascinating for small business owners or anyone else who is interested in helping others (or yourself) change for... Read morePublished 5 days ago by Amber
Just started reading, but very happy with it so far! Great insight into human nature and why we think the way we do.
Looking forward to learning how to change it!
If you are looking for a book on change management, look no further. I read it and then shared it with the leaders who work for me. Read morePublished 13 days ago by Amazon Customer
This is a great book to help you understand the human psyche, and shows you time and again on how you can really affect change by how you approach situations, and by asking the... Read morePublished 17 days ago by Suzanne T
The book is fine, actually an awesome book. It is so good that I bought another one as a birthday present present for my friend. Read morePublished 21 days ago by Li
I am only half way through the book, but it makes a lot of sense! Very applicable.Published 21 days ago by Mmm