In an old episode of Seinfeld it’s discussed and concluded that ”the switch” can’t be made (in this case meaning to switch a girlfriend for her roommate). The book ”Switch” tells another story, about making changes that last. This book is written by two brothers named Chip and Dan Heath. The subtitle is ”How to Change Things When Change Is Hard” and was released 2010.
”What looks like a people problem is often a situation problem” – Chip Heath & Dan Heath
The book consists of 11 chapters, divided into three sections, and they are:
1. The Surprises About Change
DIRECT THE RIDER
2. Find the Bright Spots
3. Script the Critical Moves
4. Point to the Destination
MOTIVATE THE ELEPHANT
5. Find the Feeling
6. Shrink the Change
7. Grow Your People
SHAPE THE PATH
8. Tweak the Environment
9. Build Habits
10. Rally the Herd
11. Keep the Switch Going
The first chapter is describing change, and mentions that to change someone’s behaviour, you’ve got to change that person’s situation. Wisdom from psychology says that the brain has two independent systems at work all the time. First, it’s the emotional side (instinctive, makes you feel pain or pleasure). Second, it’s the rational side, also known as the reflective or conscious system. If you want to change things you have to appeal to both sides! To use the vocabulary of this book: You have to speak both to the Rider and the Elephant. One other advice about change is that you have to provide crystal-clear direction.
The ”magic formula for change” boils down to the following:
- Direct the Rider – What can look like resistance is often lack of clarity (give crystal-clear direction).
- Motivate the Elephant – What looks like laziness is often exhaustion. You have to engage the emotional side.
- Shape the path – The situation (including the surrounding environment) is called ”the path”.
How to find the bright-spots? Use the following question: ”What’s working and how can we do more of it”. One other tip is to use destination postcards, they do double duty: The show the Rider where you are heading, and they show the Elephant why the journey is worthwhile. They can be incredibly inspiring!
When it comes to shaping the path two strategies are described:
- Tweaking the environment
- Building habits.
I can recommend this book, it presents a simple formula for making change. The challenge is of course to tailor and implement it for your specific needs. I have not tried out this yet.
All the best,
Tomas from TheAgileist