Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard
Authors: Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Recommended by: Mollie Callahan, Senior High-Tech Anthropologist®
For organizations and individuals trying, but struggling to change, Switch (one of 4 best-selling books co-authored by Chip and Dan Heath) lays out a 3-part formula for success that combines memorable vocabulary with actionable tips. They frame the problem as simple and universal: all change efforts regardless of size or scale depend on the adoption of new behaviors. But, getting ourselves and others to adopt new behaviors requires aligning the competing wants of our analytical self (The Rider) and our emotional self (The Elephant). “For individuals’ behavior to change, you’ve got to influence not only their environment, but their hearts and minds.” They argue that change becomes easier when adhering to the following steps that are designed to work with, rather than against our natural tendencies:
1. Direct the Rider by reducing the ambiguity of where you are heading and how to get there. This can be achieved by exploring and Following Bright Spots (those things already working well), Scripting Critical Moves (focusing on small, concrete behaviors vs. big picture ideas), and Pointing to the Destination by clarifying the end goal and reason.
2. Motivate the Elephant by Finding the Feeling that makes the change emotionally impactful, Shrinking the Change by breaking down daunting efforts into small, low-stake steps, and Growing Your People so identities align with change efforts.
3. Shape the Path by Tweaking the Environment to force the desired outcome, Building Habits to support automated routines and Rallying the Herd to spread change.
One of my favorite ideas from the book is the “destination postcard” –“a vivid picture from the near-term future that shows what could be possible.” As the authors explain, in painting a rewarding vision of what follows hard work, “destination postcards do double duty: They show the Rider where you’re headed, and they show the Elephant why the journey is worthwhile.”
Packed with compelling case studies and cross-disciplinary research, Switch is a must-read for those looking to understand change and expand their methodological toolkits. Those familiar with other change management frameworks, such as Vital Smart’s Influencer Model, will find complimentary resonances that can be creatively leveraged in a wide variety of settings. The simplicity and flexibility of the framework outlined in Switch is what makes it so powerful.
Get a copy for yourself here!