Book: Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Summary: Change is hard because there is conflict between the rational side of your mind that understands why a change is necessary and the emotional side of your mind that is comfortable with the current situation. There are paths to resolve this conflict and allow change to occur.

Intended Audience: Agents of change; people seeking change but are unable to do so; those concerned about people facing corporate changes

Why You Should Read It: The Heath brothers weave some excellent stories about successful change in greatly varying circumstances.  They categorize catalysts of change into three areas that describe the rational side, emotional side, and environmental conditions for change:

  • Direct the Rider: explain reasons for change to the rational side and provide examples and plans to get there
  • Motivate the Elephant: find ways that make people feel good about the change and that nudge them in the right direction
  • Shape the Path: we are creatures of habit so it is important to make the path to change the easiest one to take

My Takeaways

  • Sometimes the best way to correct a problem is to engineer the situation to avoid it completely. Amplifying bright spots to replace problem areas means that energy is not wasted corrected an avoidable problem.
  • Do not underestimate the emotional impact of change. Even if something makes complete rational sense, it is very important to address emotional concerns for change to be successful.
  • The Fundamental Attribution Error: when bad things happen to other people, we think it is their fault; when bad things happen to us, we blame our environment

Recommended?: Absolutely