Book Notes: Switch

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The book presents change with the analogy of a rider, elephant and path.

  • Direct the rider – what often appears as resistance is often a lack of clarity, so provide a crystal-clear direction. Some is not a number and soon is not a time – these are not clear enough.
  • Motivate the elephant – what looks like laziness is often exhaustion. The rider can’t get its way by force for long so its keep to engage peoples emotional side.
  • Shape the path – what looks like a problem is often situational. When you shape the path you make it easier for the elephant and rider to follow the path.

Techniquest to Direct the rider

  • Fine the bright spots – we focus on the negative this is exemplified by English having nearly twice as many negative words as positive ones. Instead we should be looking for the bright spots which already exist and learning from those.
  • Script the Critical Moves – it’s a fallacy that big problems need big solutions, small changes can make a big difference. Humans make many small decisions on autopilot, by scripting the moves we can help adjust the autopilot making small change with big impact.
  • Point to the Destination – build a vision so the driver knows where it is going and so the elephant knows why it is important.

Motivate the Elephant

  • Find the Feeling – we are motivated much more by feelings than facts so building feelings is key to change. Be that the feeling of empathy so you can better understand your customer or the feeling of strength so you can take you medication or hope, optimism and excitement about new products.
  • Shrink the Change – it’s much harder to try to do everything, instead look at how you can shrink the change perhaps by only doing part of it or making the change easier.
  • Grow Your People – there are two basic models of decision making the consequence model and the identity model. The consequences model is the analytical approach to decision making. The identity model is where you ask yourself Who am I? What kind of situation is this? What would people like me do?  Building an identity is powerful – be that people identifying as inventors, cast members etc.

Shape the Path

  • Tweak the Environment – look at how you can make the environment more aligned to the result you are looking for makes the change easier. If you are struggling with focusing on writing why not take your laptop away from WiFi and work in the woods.
  • Build Habits – if you can instill habits that reinforce then you can make progress towards your goals for free. This builds the automatic reactions to reduce the challenge of decision making. Examples include routing, or checklists etc.
  • Rally the Herd – you are doing things because you see other people doing them. “Designated driver” spread in this way by asking TV executives for 5 seconds to include such a person, this spread the idea and it quickly caught on.
  • Keep the Switch Going – recognise and celebrate the first step. When you spot movement reinforce it.

Common obstacles

  • People don’t see the need to change – visualise the problem, find the feeling, tweak the environment
  • Not invented here – highlight identity either company or profession, find the bright spot where it is invented here and clone it
  • Too much analysis – find a feeling, create a destination, simplify the problem
  • Overcoming old approaches – create a new habit, set a preloaded action trigger, create a new routine without the old approach, remove ambiguity
  • No motivation – sell the identity change, encourage a small step, create a destination, encourage the smallest change, use social pressure, make the path easy to follow
  • I’ll change tomorrow – shrink the change so you can start today, set an action trigger, make yourself accountable to someone
  • “It will never work” – find a bright spot, build small successes, give people a free space to the people who are optimistic
  • Know but not doing – knowing isn’t enough, find the smallest thing you can do, can you tweak the environment, get and give reinforcing support to someone else
  • Change resistance – people get married and have children and this change will be smaller
  • Tough patches – focus on building the habit, remind people how much they have already achieved, teach a growth mindset
  • It’s too much – shrink the change, develop the growth mindset, some change includes failure don’t beat yourself up.
  • Nothing happens – build clarity, remove obstacles, replicate a bright spot,

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