Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hardby Chip Heath, Dan Heath Published 16 Feb 2010
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Why is change so difficult and frightening? How do you create change when you have few resources and no title or authority to back you up? Chip and Dan Heath, the best-selling authors of Made to Stick, are back with a ground-breaking book that addresses one of the greatest challenges of our personal and professional lives — how to change things when change is hard.
In their follow-up book to the critically acclaimed international bestseller Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath talk about how difficult change is in our companies, our careers, and our lives, why change is so hard, and how we can overcome our resistance and make change happen. The Heaths liken the human mind to two distinct entities — the animal mind, or what psychologist Jonathan Haidt calls the elephant, and the logical brain, which Haidt describes as the rider. The elephant is instinctive; it acts on emotion. It likes gorging on Oreos and sleeping in. And it loves routines — doing things the same old way, every day.
The rider is the planner and thinker. The rider obsesses about the future. He or she wants to stop eating junk food and stop hitting the snooze button. But it’s hard, because when the rider and elephant disagree on where to go, the rider usually loses. And that describes the essential tension between our primitive emotional brain and our high intellect, and helps to explain why changing how we behave is so difficult. The secret to making a switch is understanding this odd couple relationship. Direct the Rider. Motivate the Elephant. Shape the Path.
Throughout Switch, Chip and Dan Heath illustrate and explain situations in which sweeping change was adopted, from a university researcher who ended the cycle of child abuse in a group of families, to an entrepreneur who turned his skeptical employees into customer service zealots and saved his company.
In the tradition of Made to Stick, Blink, and Outliers, Switch is filled with engaging and entertaining stories of how companies and individuals have brought about and sustained significant change. An indispensable guide to making change happen, it is certain to become a classic.
"Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard" Reviews
Recommended to: Anyone who desires the capability to spark massive, lasting and effective "CHANGE", from individual and family up to organizational and even nation-wide levels
I know, it's cool :D
About the book
It's definitely among the most perfect books I've ever consumed. Author's have structured it in the following format: Three main parts each one being a critical element of change. Each part then is consisted of submodules i.e. different ways of reaching the corresponding element and each submodule is backed up with numerous real world stories on how the element being discussed is put into practice and how it's lead into a snowball of change.
Aw, and this book has also some exercise to put your takeaways into test. :D
A remarkable fact about the book which is vivid in the real stories provided throughout the book is the consistency and integrity of the "framework of change" they're teaching. In each story, they provide you can see all the three elements perfectly at work. So what are these lovely elements?
The content Authors have identified three major elements required in any environment to initiate and support a lasting and effective change which are:
I. Directing the Rider: Which deals with the thinking part of human brain
II. Motivating the Elephant: Which tackles issues regarding our emotional brain
III. Shaping the path: Which is about the environment, influencing our behavior.
There's an analogy used through out the book regarding our rational and emotional part. The part of our brain which makes us human is referred to a rider sitting on an elephant which stands for our huge emotional part. Our limbic brain, our subconscious mind or the emotional part of our brain is so strong and compelling that in terms of strength looks like an elephant to our logical part of the brain (rider).
Now let's start with an illuminating quote which in spite of seeming obvious is often neglected:
All change efforts have something in common: for any thing to change, someone has to start acting differently
In this vain, my all time favorite teacher, Jim Rohn says:
If you change, everything will change for you.
How to change?
Rider and the Elephant elements
In essence, if you want to change things, you've got to appeal to both rider (logical brain) and elephant (emotional brain). The rider provides planning and direction while the elephant provides energy and motivation. If you reach riders of your team but not the Elephants, members will have understanding without motivation. And i you reach their Elephants but not riders, they'll have passion without direction. In each case all attempt for change all doomed to failure.
An strong barrier to change is that the mind and the heart often disagree. What looks like laziness is often exhustion.
The Situation Element
Research strongly shows that our environment and situations, drastically influence our behavior. For instance studies shows the bigger our food containers, the more we eat and vice versa. Hence:
What looks like a people problem is often a situation (path) problem.
Now let's see how we can come up with best strategies to direct the rider, motivate the elephant and shape the path.
I. Directing the Rider:
1. Find the Bright Spots: To be precise and short, in every terrible situation if you look closely enough, you'll find people that are getting results. Finding bright spots is identifying the cases, people that are getting results in spite of the bad circumstances and teach others the strategies these bright spots are utilizing.
This approach in psychology is referred to as Solutions-focused therapy. Focusing on what's worked so far instead of the "whys" behind problems.
For instance: a specific product of company sells very low, but meanwhile you see some sales persons having high success rate in selling that very product. You must find out how their techniques and teach them to others.
In Essence: Instead of asking what's broken and how we can fix it, ask: What's working and how we can do more of it.
2. Script the critical Move: Change is often hard, and ambiguity makes it also terrifying. Any successful change requires a translation of ambiguous goals into concrete behaviors. In short, to make a switch, you need to script the critical moves.
For instance: Asking someone to eath more healthy is too general, you must define them a precise diet plan to break their resistance.
In Essence: Clarity dissolves resistance.
3. Point To The Destination: In short, we want what we might call a destination postcard, a vivid picture from the near-term future that show what could be possible. Having a clear perspective gives feedback to people on ho get lost in analysis.w close they are to their desire objective.
When you describe a compelling destination, you're helping to correct one of the rider's great weaknesses, the tendency to get lost in analysis.
4. Black & White goals: Destination postcards is effective if they motivate the employees. What if they're not. In such cases you must define an absolute goal.
For instance: When planning you're new year's resolution, "Being healthier" is ambiguous, instead if you change it to "Gym Every Single Day" or even "No More Cheese Cake", then you leave no room for rationalization.
In Essence: When you are at the beginning of a change, don't obsess about the middle, because the middle is going to look different when you get there; instead, Look for a strong beginning and a strong ending and get moving.
To Be Continued ...
Another must read from the Heath Brothers-
This is another invaluable book packed with extremely useful information. True to the theme of their earlier book, they help make all the concepts stick by hammering them in over and over: Direct the Rider, Motivate the Elephant, and Shape the Path.
For any change to occur, you must have a good reason, a good motivation, and a good environment. The rider is the rational side of you, the elephant, your emotional side, and the path, your environment.
To direct the rider means to have compelling reasons to do something. In doing so, you can do three things: 1) Find the bright spot; 2) script the critical moves; and 3) point to the destination. Finding the bright spot requires to you to shift through your past experience and find instances in which something was working for you - be it feeling not depressed, going a full day not drinking, or having fun learning - and analyze them so that you can do more of them.
Scripting the critical moves means you have to give detailed instructions, because when you tell someone in abstract terms such as, "be healthy," "eat less," they can mean so many things that people don't know what to do. Telling them, "buy 1% milk," is specific enough that they can follow the instruction easily.
Finally, pointing to the destination means you have to show people where you're going and why it's worth going there.
To motivate the elephant, you can: 1) find the feeling; 2) shrink the change; and 3) grow the people.
Finding the feeling just means making people feel something - fear, compassion, indignity, absurdity, anything. And this ties nicely with the concept from their previous book: Emotion and making people care. Showing an individual's plight - a mother who lost her daughter because of some medical error that could've been prevented - makes people care.
Shrinking the change means simply that you break down the change into manageable size. So instead of saying, "clean your whole room!" - a daunting task for messy people - it helps to shrink the task by saying, "Just clean the room for five minutes, that's all." As soon as the elephant gets going, it keeps going and going - the five minutes becomes thirty minutes, and when you come to, voila, the room is clean!
Growing the people has two components: 1) cultivating an identity; and 2) instilling the growth mindset.
People have two different ways of thinking: individual thinking and group thinking. The former considers things based on one's self-interest while the latter does so based on one's identity, or the group they associate with. As an individual, any monetary gain is a plus, but if you were, say, a doctor, you might not consider money the end-all and might even reject it if it contradicts with your concept of being a doctor.
As Carol Dweck's seminal book, Mindset: the New Psychology of Success explains, there are two different kinds of mindsets: fixed and growth. The former believes human abilities are fixed "talents" while the latter believes they can be cultivated through effort. To be able to change, it's almost a requirement to have the latter mindset especially because change is often very difficult.
Finally, shaping the path has three components: 1) tweak the environment; 2) build habits; and 3) rally the herd.
Tweaking the environment means arranging things around you so that it becomes easier to do one thing over another. For example, if you have a perennial problem of obsessively checking your email, it might help you to shut down your Outlook or whatever email program you have, mute the PING! noise whenever an email arrives in your inbox, or physically hide the pop-out notice on the screen with post-its. When my obsession with checking certain websites took over my life, I used Leechblock on Firefox to forbid myself to go there. And it works.
Building habits frees the elephant because you do it almost automatically. Some of the techniques introduced here include "action triggers" and checklists. Action triggers are a way of "pre-loading" decisions by deciding the sequence of actions you'll take so that you don't have to think while going through them. For example, you can say, "I'll call the office right after dinner tonight." The "trigger" in this case is "right after dinner." In other words, when you finish eating, you don't have to think or decide to call the office anymore; the decision has already been made beforehand.
People always forget something. Worse yet, they are overconfident about their abilities in general. So having a checklist minimizes possible errors - which we commit by default for being human - and thwart overconfidence.
Finally, rallying the herd. This concept is based on the belief that behavior is contagious and you can help it spread by using social pressure, social proof, and free spaces. A good technique that applies social pressure effectively is stand-up meetings. By making everyone stand up, it cuts a lot of excess talk as people start to fidget and send the signal that someone's talking too long.
Social proof. A hotel that had a sign, "A majority of our guests reuse towels" made more likely for guests to reuse their towels.
Having spaces for people to talk and hang out is a must for uniting them and rallying them. A hospital that had a lounge for people to talk about possible changes actually adopted them while a hospital that didn't have such a place didn't.
A must read.
This is an excellent book on how to enact change and the mechanics behind that. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants to change something in their personal life or within their working environment.
I was able to get a good understanding of the interplay and motivation of the two competing brain types which Chip coined the Rider ( Rational ) and the Elephant ( Emotional ). He then breaks it down to these sections.
Direct the Rider
- Follow the bright spots
- Script the Critical Moves
- Point to a desired destination
Motivate the Elephant
- Shrinking the Change
- Growing your People
Shape the Path
- Tweak the Environment
- Build Habits
- Rally the Herd
A concept that I found intriguing is the Fundamental Attribution Error. Its a tendency that people/society have to squarely blame peoples behavior than to look at the situation they are in. Which is the easy way out.
What I really enjoyed about this book, is how clearly and straight forward his examples are. Repeat with me! Direct the Rider, Motivate the Elephant, and Shape the Path.
Let me sum this book up: To change behavior, you must do three things. One, you must change the person’s behavior. Two and three, you must change the person’s hearts and minds.
The authors use the analogy of an Elephant and his Rider. The Rider is your logical brain. The Elephant is your heart. To get the elephant to move, you must engage both the Rider and the Elephant. So, to put it another way, to change behavior, you must Direct the Rider (provide clear direction), Motivate the Elephant (engage people’s emotions), and Shape the Path (create the best environment).
Here are some more ideas from the book. Keep the Rider (one’s mind) busy analyzing why things work well. Ask what small changes can be made to make things work better. The hardest part of change is in the details. What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity. Set what Built to Last authors call a BHAG, a Big Hairy Audacious Goal, a goal that hits you in the gut and motivates you, a destination postcard, pictures of a future that hard work can make possible. When it is time to change behavior, our first instinct is to teach them something. Instead, we need to appeal to the heart. If you need quick action, negative emotions might help, but most of the time, it’s not a stone-in-the-shoe situation and we need to encourage play, open minds, creativity, and hope. Go ahead and give two stamps toward the goal on the Loyalty Card, what the authors call Shrink the Change, build by providing an early small win. Small targets lead to small victories. Grow your people. Lock your people into identifying with being a great person. Tweak the environment. Create specific action triggers. Build habits. Use the humble checklist.
This is an excellent (and timely, considering all the New Year resolutions) book! If you want to save time, you can just read the first and last chapters, as those in the middle are just examples (case studies) to illustrate their points. Here is the cliff-note version:
The Three Surprising Truths about Change and What You Can Do about Them:
-- Direct the Rider (our analytical side): What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity. Provide crystal-clear direction (instead of telling people to “eat healthy”, give them clear directions like “buy 1% milk instead of whole milk.” Don’t think big picture, think in terms of specific behaviors. Change is easier when you know where you’re going and why it’s worth it.
-- Motivate the Elephant (our emotional side): What looks like laziness is often exhaustion. Will power is exhaustible so it’s critical to engage people’s emotional side in addition to their analytical side. For example, “show, don’t just tell. Cultivate a sense of identity and instill the growth mindset.
-- Shape the Path: What looks like a people problem is often a situational problem. For example, use smaller plates for portion control. Break down the change into small attainable steps until it no longer spooks the Elephant.
This is by far the best and most practical book on behavior change I've read so far. The book was written to address the change at the individual, organizational, and community level and I found it to be extremely useful when helping my clients reach their fitness and health goals. I was initally introduced to the work of brothers Heath through their book "Made to Stick" which is a another great read. So what are you gonna get out of this?
For starters you'll learn the exact framework how to deal with bad behaviors and change them for beneficial ones. In the book the process of change is described as involving 2 sides of your mind, your emotional and rational thinking. The overpowering emotional mind is refereed to as as the Elephant. The elephant is the part of us that gives into cravings, instincts and has very little self-control. And is also the key to motivation. The rational, decision-making part of us is secondary and it sits on the Elephant as the Rider. The Rider is the one that deals with self-control, decisions and setting big goals. And is also prone to overthinking, and getting paralyzed by over-analyzing. (Both terms were originally mentioned in Jonathan Haidt's great book Happiness Hypothesis.)
The reason why behavior change is so hard for most people is because there's a conflict between the 2 elements of your mind. And the small goal oriented Rider is the part that usually loses to the instant gratification seeking Elephant. And to make a truly lasting change in your life, the Elephant and the Rider need to unite on the same path. Overall this book offers a great practical framework how to adjust both the Rider and the Elephant in ways that will allow the change to occur and stick. As I said before this is the best book on change I've read and I would highly recommend it. It's gonna positively impact all areas of your life.