Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard is a book that will change every reader. Chip & Dan Heath, the bestselling authors of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, have a good sense of how to reach their audience and make the lessons stick. While this book is fresh in my mind, I want to share what it has taught me. Here is my summary of the book:
The first fact that shapes the rest of the book: people are bipolar. Yes, you too!
Let’s face it. We all have our rational side that most of times is fighting with our emotional side. Our rational side should win, but our emotional side can be so strong… I really am Bipolar, what now ? No worries, a good balance keeps us going.
The book is divided in three main parts:
- Direct the Rider (How to do the rational thing)
- Motivate the Elephant (Why to do it, speak to the emotional side)
- Shape the Path (How you get where you want).
The Heaths start with identifying three main obstacles, which make change difficult:
1. What you see as a “People Problem” is actually a “Situation Problem”.
E.g. People will eat more when their plate is bigger. They will eat less when their plates look fuller on a smaller plate. Although the result is peopling eat less; you didn’t change them, but you changed the situation.
2. Resistance if often a lack of clarity.
E.g. Our company needs to make more profit vs. In 18 months we will get a 10% increase in revenue, by optimizing our energy and waste usage.
In both cases people want to make the change, but they need clear direction to get to a goal.
3. Laziness if often exhaustion.
Refuel a desire for change by asking “why is it important, better, helpful to make a change?”
Knowing what is making change difficult is one thing, but actually making change happen after removing these obstacles is something else. Here is an outline of how you can reach yourself/others and make the essential push.
1. Direct the Rider
- Follow bright spots: Can you find a successful example in which a similar change worked? What can you learn from the people that made the change?
- Point the destination: Provide clarity. Set up SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant & Timely.
- Script the critical moves: How will you get to your goal; what do you need; which steps do you need to take? Take SMALL steps. Instead of putting “Go to the dentist” on your to-do list, start with “Find the phone number of a good dentist.” Keep it simple – beware of identifying too many options of critical moves because this could result in decision paralysis.
2. Motivate the Elephant
- Find the feeling: Show why this change is really needed, either by showing the bad that will happen if nothing is done, or showing how things can get better if change does happen.
- Grow the people: Cultivate a sense of identity. If you make people believe they are innovators, they will act like innovators.
- Shrink the change: Little steps towards your goal will get the snowball rolling.
3. Shape the Path
- Build habits: Habits are actions that don’t require a lot of energy (you know you have to brush your teeth twice a day, so you just do it after breakfast and before bedtime). By creating visible and specific action triggers you will create new habits, e.g. keep your gym clothes beside your bed, so that when you wake up you need less courage to go running
- Tweak the environment: Make the bad thing impossible. Don’t buy chocolate. You have to be in park before you can turn off your car.
- Rally the herd: Behavior is contagious.
Next time I don’t seem to know how to move forward, I will reflect deeply on the real problem to find an effective way of solving it through change!
Let me try it on you:
You think, well yeah, sounds like an interesting book, I might read it one day.
Trust me, it really is a good read, and will help you down the road (I’m motivating your elephant!).
Well, you’re just in time to ask for it as a Christmas present, perfect (scripting critical moves!).
You will definitely like it, I promise, it was #1 bestseller chosen by Wall Street Journal and New York Times (for 47 weeks) and was in top 10 best books by The Globe and Mail, Inc. Magazine & Washington Post (Rallying your herd!).