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Book Review: SWITCH – HOW TO CHANGE THINGS WHEN CHANGE IS HARD

Switch

Chip and Dan Heath, the bestselling authors of Made to Stick , have once again struck literary gold with their newest hit SWITCH .  The tandem set out to dispel the myth that “change is hard” and “people hate change.”  It occurred to them 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.)”

 

Their researched churned up some very intriguing studies from world renowned psychologists around the globe.  The evidence is presented in a “three-part framework”.  For things to change, somebody somewhere has to start acting differently.  Maybe it’s you, maybe it’s your team.  The analogy that develops throughout the text is that each person has an emotional “Elephant” side and a rational “Rider” side.  The weakness of the Elephant, our emotional and instinctive side, is clear: It’s lazy and skittish, often looking for the quick payoff (ice cream cone) over the long-term payoff (being thin).  Most of us are all too familiar with situations in which our Elephant overpowers our Rider.  The Elephant’s hunger for instant gratification is the opposite of the Rider’s strength, which is the ability to think long-term, to plan, to think beyond the moment.  However, the argument is made that the Elephant also has enormous strengths and that the Rider has crippling weaknesses.  So the objective is to “Direct the Rider” and “Motivate the Elephant”.  Dan and Chip effectively communicate the ways in which to do both. 

 

The third part of the framework is that every Elephant and Rider need a clear path to succeed.  Therefore, tweaking the environment around you to influence your change is vital to your success.  A similar argument made in Bryan Wansink’s book Mindless Eating (btw, a Bob Wright favorite), where he proves that plate size influences eating habits.

 

So to make a Switch you must: Direct the Rider, Motivate the Elephant and Shape the Path. 

 

I found the most insightful part of the book was when Chip and Dan Heath describe that successful switches happen when people find the bright spots meaning we should investigate what’s working and clone it!

 

I really enjoyed Switch and I think you will too!

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