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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
In "Switch," the Heaths once again take the kernel of a good idea originated by someone else and build an expansive original work around it. In "Made to Stick" that kernel was Malcolm Gladwell's concept of "stickiness," what makes ideas memorable. In "Switch" the core is psychologist and The Happiness Hypothesis author Jonathan Haidt's analogy for the mind: that the emotional side of our mind is like a headstrong Elephant, and the rational side of our mind is the guiding Rider. The Rider holds the reins and seems to be the leader, but we all know what it's like for an emotional Elephant to overpower a rational Rider. (For example, this is why many of us would say that a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream should be labeled one serving and not four. Once a worked up Elephant digs in, the Rider has a hard time reining her in. Um, speaking hypothetically, of course.)
Add in the third element to this framework, the Path, and you have three elements that can be worked on to address change. "Switch" addresses each of these elements in detail; Directing the Rider, Motivating the Elephant, and Shaping the Path, bringing in research-tested solutions and real-world success stories. What I liked best was the simplicity of many of the examples.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Loved this book! I bought 10 copies and shared them with my co-workers. Lots of great ways to create change through easy mind shifts.Published 13 hours ago by Amazon Customer
Chip and Dan Heath’s Switch – although a more superfluous exploration of change management than the more scholarly pieces on the subject by Dr. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Tony D. Purkal
I thoroughly enjoyed this read and will be reading it again...a few times.Published 6 days ago by anon
Most of the material is derived from other oilskin the subject, but it's still a useful review of change techniques. Also recommend Leading Change by Kotter.Published 7 days ago by Ken Garlington
Straight forward read explanation of a complex topic - I must reread it!Published 10 days ago by Andrea McGregor
This is a masterpiece but it needs at least two readings in order to follow the procedure explained in it to bring change out in anyone. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Ashok Pershad
Absolutely brilliant book with wide applications. I think there might be a lot of things that one could even apply to one's own problems, though I'm not sure the authors... Read morePublished 19 days ago by JJ