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on May 31, 2016
There is no doubt that change is hard, but this book actually explains how to make change occur. It covers how to make changes even when people don’t see the need to change, don’t believe change will work, or agree change is required but aren’t making any progress toward changing.

The book begins by explaining why change is so hard. The reason is that we have rational and emotional minds that have different objectives. While my rational mind knows that I should be at the gym, for instance, my emotional mind says it’s okay to watch TV and eat potato chips. The authors describe how change happens and many strategies to make change occur.

The strength of the book is its wide variety of examples. They changes include personal (exercising more), education (getting kids to class on time), family (keeping the house clean), corporate (improving innovation and reducing injuries), medical (reducing medication errors in hospitals) and social change (saving a species). Each strategy comes with many examples. The book also includes case studies so that you can apply the methodologies to your own life.

This is one of my all-time favorite books. It will help you understand why change hasn’t occurred and how to make it happen.
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on July 24, 2016
Chip and Dan Heath’s Switch – although a more superfluous exploration of change management than the more scholarly pieces on the subject by Dr. John Kotter and Dan Cohen – facilitates great conversations and brings forth profound questions and insight into the emotional dimension of change management. Instead of focusing on “people problems” so agonized over by Dan Cohen in his The Heart of Change, Switch offers provocative narratives that instill a more practical and wholesome approach to change management that “puts feelings first.” “Finding bright spots,” “shaping the path” and “creating new habits” are Chip and Dan Heath’s well-contextualized reiterations of the aforementioned scholars’ approaches to change management. More useful are the mobilization and strategy concepts offered in Switch: “scripting critical moves” and “people versus situation problems.” These two concepts are what resonate most resoundingly in Chip and Dan Heath’s case akin to Peter Drucker’s “culture eats strategy for breakfast” approach to resolving barriers to change.
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on June 7, 2016
I am by no means a big fan of "business books". Most feel like they're thrown together quickly and read like dirge. I was pleasantly surprised by Switch -- which both reads easily and is absolutely relevant to the problems we all face in our work (and personal) lives. It breaks down the process of change into three easily-remembered and compelling constructs, and gives lots of practical examples for each construct. I found myself incorporating the concepts from Switch into my daily activities immediately, and my zeal for the model hasn't diminished over the past couple of months (the typical half-life of a business book is days in my experience).

If you deal with change in any aspect of your life -- this is an excellent book. If you think you *don't* deal with change -- you're probably not paying attention!
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on December 2, 2012
Switch is a book about managing change by the Heath brothers (Chip and Dan). Chip is a professor at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University and Dan is a Senior Fellow at Duke University' Social Entrepreneurship center. The two have teamed up before -- in 2007 they released their critically acclaimed Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. This latest effort focuses less on the stickiness of the idea and more on the change process itself. What should a change agent do to implement lasting change in a hard-headed organization that desperately needs it?

The book is organized into eleven chapters in three parts: Part 1, Direct the Rider; Part 2, Motivate the Elephant; and Part 3, Shape the Path. The titles come from a vivid metaphor by University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt. In his book, The Happiness Hypothesis, Haidt likens a person to a rider on an elephant. The rider is the rational side of a person: the part that tells him to eat better, exercise more, and stop procrastinating, for example. The elephant is the emotional side that doesn't want to work to lose weight or exercise and would rather stay put; let's say willpower vs. won't-power; but why should that be? Whatever is autonomous and ingrained by habit belongs to the elephant. The rider is theoretically in control, but it is exhausting to continually tug on the reins and direct the stubborn elephant. Eventually the rider relents and the elephant goes back to doing what he's always done. Sound familiar?

Before going much farther, you should know that two things separate Switch from so many other glib books about change: first, the book has a very solid psychological basis. Despite its accessible style, scores of major psychological findings and studies are reported and undergird the book's practical formulae for change. Second, Switch is not a self-help book. I have no doubt that the book could be used in this way, but it is really a book about how to change things. It is primarily directed toward organizational change, though its principles are much broader. And there are many surprises.

The first big surprise occurs in the very first chapter.

"We know what you're thinking -- people resist change. But it's not quite that easy. Babies are born every day to parents who, inexplicably, welcome that change. Yet people don't resist this massive change -- they volunteer for it. In our lives we embrace lots of big changes. So there are hard changes and there are easy changes. What distinguishes one from the other?"

And the surprises keep coming. Like the two researchers who dramatically and permanently got folks to reduce their saturated fat intake. Or the doctor who saved over 100,000 lives and counting in American hospitals on schedule (18 months) by getting thousands of doctors and organizations to change their practices. Or the American who went to Vietnam and changed the face of malnutrition. Or the student who saved an endangered species in a Caribbean country that didn't give two hoots about it.

What do all these stories have in common? For one, none of these change agents had the sufficient budget or authority to succeed; yet, they did. How? Every one of them gave clear rational direction to the rider by finding the bright spots, scripting the critical moves, and clearly pointing to the end goal. All of them motivated the elephant by emotionally connecting with it, and they shrunk the apparent change by carefully communicating progress. They refused to underestimate their people. Instead they provided them with a newfound identity that let them to grow into the challenge. But there was more.

As the authors note, many times what looks like resistance is really confusion or even the result of misaligned incentives. That's why the path needs to be shaped by making manageable changes to the environment, building sound habits, rallying the herd, and reinforcing the new habit until it becomes a way of life.

Well, maybe that sounds like a lot of work. I think it is. But speaking from firsthand experience, it will be a labor of love. And if your heart is not in the change and you do not think you can derive reward from the process, perhaps you are selling yourself short -- or, maybe you're the wrong person to lead the change and you should stop kidding yourself. And perhaps that is what I like most about this book. It does not promise a panacea. It tells it like it is without the jingoism that has become the substance of many change management essays. If you are leading organizational change, the book will provide a solid prescription for achieving lasting results because Switch uses real research, reports real experiences, and provides real guidance. Here, my recommendation is enthusiastic.
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on January 14, 2015
This book is a summarization of the various theories of change management, be it in a business, government or NGO.

Dan and Chip talk about most of the problem being with situation and not with people as most of us would jump to conclusion. So, we end up struggling about getting people to behave in a new way. The corollary they draw to most people welcoming seismic changes like marriage and babies in their lives is quite an eye opener in this regard. So, if the behavior needs to change, there has to be a change in the situation.

The Elephant and Rider synonyms for the two minds in one brain was very innovative and interesting. This tells a lot and the authors uses these synonyms extensively through out the book. For instance while I knew that will power wears out after some usage and thus exhaustion becomes perceived as laziness, but with an Elephant and Rider context, it becomes very apparent.

It is not that all the concepts in this book are new, at I have been exposed to some of these like shrinking the change or lowering the bar in some other books and also in practical life. But then to be fair, the authors themselves claim to have referred to tons of book on change and have also recommended a few of them for additional reading. Still, I liked this book because it gave a different context to the various approached, but kept the impact on Elephant and Rider throughout each approaches. Thus it makes it easier to identify which approach works best in which case. And the cases are quite diverse, even a case of organizing the community to save a city or a parrot for that matter!!

Another innovative feature of this book was the clinics Dan and Chip give. It provides the reader an opportunity to try out the approaches and the impact of the same. I liked it a lot.

I had some disagreement on the mindset concept or to be more specific the wordings of the four question used to identify the mindset. Actually, I don’t believe in mindset and always felt it as all about conditioning

If you are one of those who are driving change in your place and losing steam, do read this book. It will tell you that yes, everything can look like a failure in the middle. But with if the Rider has the necessary direction (very important, ambiguity does not help to change) and the Elephant is well motivated, you will still reach the destination. After all , as Dan and Chip say, change is not an event, it a process.
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on February 10, 2014
The author does a good job of presenting some research and anecdotal evidence for not only the sources of paralysis, but solutions that have worked in the past to effect change. And the methods seem to have broad applicability, which is even better.

However, I will point out one example that is repeated quite often that although looks good on the surface is actually an example of what NOT to do, according to the author's thesis. One of the basis tenants that he presents is to Do What Works (aka "find the Bright Spot"), so that regardless of preconceived notions, the working examples are repeated. And, he clearly recommends that objective data be used to asses this measurement, such as the issue of malnutrition in Vietnam (looking for the healthy kids), or Bobbie, the problem child (looking for instances where he is well behaved). Most of the examples he presents show a comparison in the beginning of the desired outcome (healthier children), FINDING the differences between those instances where the desired outcome is present, and those where the desired outcome is lacking. Then implementing the changes that work and then measuring over time to verify that the correct changes were made.

Okay, the example where this fails is the case of the researchers trying to get Americans to eat a healthier diet. Now, the objective measure here would be markers of health (just like the marker of the more active, less sick, and less emaciated looking children in Vietnam, or the marker of when the problem child was behaving well). These markers of health could be things like triglyceride counts, or fasting glucose, or A1C. And the next step would be to find out what the healthier people are doing differently than the unhealthy people. However, the researchers were not interested in markers of health, they were interested in getting people to eat a specific diet - regardless of the science (or lack thereof) supporting the dietary changes, and regardless of how or even if the health of the participants changed. The did not test what was working for the healthiest individuals, and they did not measure markers of health before and after. They only measured compliance with their approved diet - which included switching whole milk for 1% milk. Unfortunately for them, no controlled studies have shown improved health by drinking lower fat milk. In fact, many studies have shown the opposite.

This attempt at directing the method, and not the outcome, is the antithesis of the recommendations in the book. If the reader can ignore these misguided examples (that are sadly, quite often repeated) the message will be much clearer and stronger. Again, find what works and replicate that.
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on March 28, 2017
This is a very interesting books.
This book gets you to think about different situations from different views you are learning about from this books.
Switch provides people's experiences that can help shape your mind differently forever.
It's fun to learn about your type of personality from this book and about our elephants and riders.
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on January 12, 2011
Not all change is difficult.
We change all the time, voluntarily, in many different ways - we get married, we start a family, we take up a new job or a new role, we change ideas...
just think of much you changed in the last 10 years!
Based on this insight, the question is: what are the characteristics of successful change?
Chip and Dan Heath set out on a quest to find what works to make change easier, at any scale - individual, organizational, societal.
And in doing so they dispel 3 big myths about change: that some people are just hard to change, it is in their nature; that people are lazy, and that is why they do not change; that there is a "resistance" to change.
To illustrate their findings, the authors borrow Jonathan Haidt's metaphor of the Elephant and the Rider: the conscious, analytical part of ourselves is like a rider perched on top of an elephant, the adaptive unconscious.
The rider has the ability to plan, to analyze, to make rational choices - but it also has the tendency to spin its wheels and over-analyze, and it stands no chance guiding the elephant with brute force, at least not in the long run.
The elephant gives us drive and power, but it is easily distracted by short term rewards.
The authors use this simple metaphor as a framework to make sense of some useful strategies for change, based on research and illustrated with vivid, "sticky" stories - these strategies are grouped in 3 sections: how to "direct the rider", how to "engage the elephant" and how to "shape the path".
I am a Solution-Focused practitioner, so I was very happy to see Solution-Focused Brief Therapy featured in this book. It appears, together with Appreciative Inquiry, in the section about Directing the Rider, in the chapter "Find the Bright Spots".
As the authors themselves point out, an effective approach to change involves all 3 dimensions (rider, elephant, path), and sometimes this distinction is pretty fuzzy.
I believe Solution-Focus interviewing protocols to be a case in point:
- when we, as Solution-Focused practitioners, ask exception-finding questions, we "find the bright spots" (chapter one)
- when we, as Solution-Focused practitioners, ask for concrete, behavioral details about what works, we help clients "script the critical moves" (chapter two)
- when we, as Solution-Focused practitioners, ask the Miracle Question, we "point [the rider] to the destination" (chapter 3) and we also help the elephant "find the feeling" (chapter 4)
- when we, as Solution-Focused practitioners, ask "what would be the smallest sign that..." we "shrink the change" (chapter 5)
- and since all the questions in the Solution-Focused therapy or coaching protocols are interactional, i.e. are aimed at focusing the client's attention on the situation, we do help in "shaping the path".
The more I practice Solution-Focus, the more I am impressed by how effective it is.
Yet, despite the empirical nature of the work that led to the creation of Solution-focused interviewing protocols and despite the research supporting it, people have a hard time believing it can work. And that is because of ingrained assumptions about change. The authors did an excellent job in showing that there is a different way to think about change. And for that, I am very grateful to Chip and Dan Heath.
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on May 8, 2017
An enjoyable book to read. Switch is a hopeful look at how to go about making changes that actually move an organization. They have broken change into components that can guide a team to make change in an organization. Great stories show how to put theories into practice - and why change sometimes gets derailed.
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on January 29, 2016
The book Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is Hard, was a really good book! The book has three main concepts that are addressed: Directing the Rider, Motivating the Elephant, and Shaping the Path. By addressing the following concepts, change should be easier to accomplish. The Rider refers to a person’s logical side of thinking. This concept suggests that to encourage change, one needs to eliminate ambiguity. This concept is broken down into 3 sections: identify bright spots, scripting critical moves and pointing to the destination. Motivate the Elephant- The elephant refers to a person’s emotional side. There are three concepts discussed to activate the elephant: Find the feeling, shrink the change, and grow your people. Shape the Path: “What looks like the problem is often a situational problem.” The path is the environment or situations that are involved with a change. This was a really good read with many excellent examples throughout. I highly recommend this book.
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