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Switch – Dan Heath, Chip Heath

How to Change Things When Change is Hard

Change is inevitably hard. Throughout my career it is change and persuading others to adopt change that takes the most time, whether it is changing culture, processes, or technology. Everyone falls into habits and changes those habits requires energy, and motivation. Switch by the Heath brothers builds a framework to help guide change management whether it be in an organization or your personal life.

Switch tells us that we are guided by two distinct ‘characters’: the rider, and the elephant. The rider is a rational being, the one that tells us we should diet or workout more. The problem is the rider gets exhausted, it is hard to constantly stick to change, to reroute our brains. The elephant is more laid back and needs to see that change is easy, its easier to motivate. To switch habits you must:

  • Direct the Rider
    • Bright Spots – find what is working rather than what is not. I.E find out who is not getting sick and find out what they are doing differently
    • Critical Moves – rather than building a large strategy, focus on one or two small steps that if adopted would change behavior.
    • Point to the Destination – show the end result, easy to rally when everyone knows where they are going.
  • Motivate the Elephant
    • Find the Feeling – emotion trumps rationale each time, if those you are influencing can see it then they can address it.
    • Shrink the Change – break down a larger problem into smaller one. Start cleaning for 5 minutes, then see if you stop.
    • Grow your People – grow an identity, this is where culture plays a large part.
  • Shape the Path
    • Tweak the Environment – behavior changes when the situation changes.
    • Build Habits – self explanatory.
    • Rally the Herd – behavior is contagious, get your people to see you and your change.

Self-help books are hard to get through sometimes, but the Heath brothers use statistics and psychology research to show their framework works. I doubt that one read will change how I do things, but using the recommended reading list will hopefully build a stable foundation to build on.

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