Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Switch - How to Change Things when Change is Hard

I read an awesome book by Chip and Dan Heath called Switch - How To Change Things When Change is Hard. I really enjoyed their previous book Made to Stick.

What I like about Chip and Dan's books are that they are founded on real research and have some depth to them. Although I love reading business books, I am finding that many of the books I read are fairly shallow. This one is not shallow.

One of the key concepts that the book uses is that of the elephant and the rider. The elephant is that part of you that is automatic and does things without thinking. Although they don't call them this, I would call these habits (or in my case I like to think of them as success habits). The rider is the self discipline which can cause the elephant to do certain things.

One concept of the rider is the rider actually does not have an inexhaustible supply of energy so when the rider has to do too many course corrections, the rider simply wears out and the elephant ends up taking over and doing things the way the elephant wants to do them. I think it's an interesting concept to thing in terms that self-discipline as a limited resource and as such we need to figure out how to use it well.

The gist of the message is use the rider to develop habits so the elephant has the right habits.

I have always said change is opportunity and I have always loved change at one level. However there is clearly a part of me that does not like change

The book has many practical examples on how to make a switch (or change). They include :

  • Follow the Bright Spots - Investigate what's working and clone it.
  • Script the Critical Moves - Don't think big picture, think in terms of specific behaviors
  • Point to the Destination - Chang is easier when you known where you're going and why it's worth it.
Motivate the Elephant
  • Find the Feeling - Knowing something isn't enough to cause change. Make people feel something.
  • Shrink the Change - Break down the change, until it no longer spooks the Elephant.
  • Grow Your People - Cultivate a sense of identity and instill the growth mindset.
Shape the Path
  • Tweak the Environment - When the situation changes, the behavior changes. So change the situation.
  • Build Habits - When behavior is habitual, it's "free" -it doesn't tax the Rider. Look for ways to encourage habits.
  • Rally The Herd - Behavior is contagious. Help spread.
I interviewed Dan Heath:
Can you describe any tie ins and differences between Made to Stick and Switch. After Made to Stick - why Switch.

When Made to Stick came out, we had the opportunity to work with a lot of people who were trying to make their ideas stick. Most often, they were trying to create some kind of change: a museum director who wanted to inspire other museums to be more accessible to the visually impaired; an entrepreneur who wanted IT directors to adopt his software; a teacher who wanted to change the culture of his private school.

So that was our “duh” moment—the realization that people were using the book’s ideas to lobby for change. Made to Stick discusses effective communication, and that’s one tool that a leader needs in creating change, but it’s not the only one. So we set out to research the question, “How can you improve your odds of changing things?” And in combing through the psychology literature, we began to find really compelling answers—answers that sometimes surprised us. For instance, psychologists have found that our self-control is exhaustible. It gets fatigued, like a muscle. So one consequence of that is that we shouldn’t try to change too many things at once, if we can avoid it. Because when our self-control is exhausted, we’ll find change very difficult.

In short, we got excited by the research and stories we found, and so we started writing Switch.

How did you find working with your brother? Has writing the book made you closer or not? (I was in business with my 3 brothers for many years so it is a point of curiosity.)

It has been a great experience. In the beginning, we had some kinks to work out in our workstyles—Chip is a planner and I’m a procrastinator, so you can imagine the resulting “issues”—but we’ve been collaborating closely for over 5 years now, so it’s smooth sailing these days. The books have given us something to work on together, which is nice. Some brothers fix up muscle cars; we write non-fiction books. Before we wrote Made to Stick, we’d talk maybe once a month, and now we talk almost every day.


At 2:54 PM, Anonymous davidburkus said...

Loved the Heath brother's new one, Change. I liked it better than Made to Stick.

At 9:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim, thanks so much for participating in the virtual book tour! I'm glad you liked the book!

Thank you for the interesting post.


At 11:25 PM, Blogger Holy Gardens La Union said...

Things do not change; we change.

Joe ann


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