Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

( 225 )


Why is it so hard to make lasting changes in our companies, in our communities, and in our own lives?

The primary obstacle is a conflict that’s built into our brains, say Chip and Dan Heath, authors of the critically acclaimed bestseller Made to Stick. Psychologists have discovered that our minds are ruled by two different systems—the rational mind and the emotional mind—that compete for control. The rational mind wants a great beach body; the emotional mind wants that Oreo...

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Why is it so hard to make lasting changes in our companies, in our communities, and in our own lives?

The primary obstacle is a conflict that’s built into our brains, say Chip and Dan Heath, authors of the critically acclaimed bestseller Made to Stick. Psychologists have discovered that our minds are ruled by two different systems—the rational mind and the emotional mind—that compete for control. The rational mind wants a great beach body; the emotional mind wants that Oreo cookie. The rational mind wants to change something at work; the emotional mind loves the comfort of the existing routine. This tension can doom a change effort—but if it is overcome, change can come quickly.

In Switch, the Heaths show how everyday people—employees and managers, parents and nurses—have united both minds and, as a result, achieved dramatic results:  

●      The lowly medical interns who managed to defeat an entrenched, decades-old medical practice that was endangering patients.

●      The home-organizing guru who developed a simple technique for overcoming the dread of housekeeping.

●      The manager who transformed a lackadaisical customer-support team into service zealots by removing a standard tool of customer service
In a compelling, story-driven narrative, the Heaths bring together decades of counterintuitive research in psychology, sociology, and other fields to shed new light on how we can effect transformative change. Switch shows that successful changes follow a pattern, a pattern you can use to make the changes that matter to you, whether your interest is in changing the world or changing your waistline.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The Heath brothers (coauthors of Made to Stick) address motivating employees, family members, and ourselves in their analysis of why we too often fear change. Change is not inherently frightening, but our ability to alter our habits can be complicated by the disjunction between our rational and irrational minds: the self that wants to be swimsuit-season ready and the self that acquiesces to another slice of cake anyway. The trick is to find the balance between our powerful drives and our reason. The authors' lessons are backed up by anecdotes that deal with such things as new methods used to reform abusive parents, the revitalization of a dying South Dakota town, and the rebranding of megastore Target. Through these lively examples, the Heaths speak energetically and encouragingly on how to modify our behaviors and businesses. This clever discussion is an entertaining and educational must-read for executives and for ordinary citizens looking to get out of a rut. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Old habits die hard. Whether on the communal or the individual level, maintaining the status quo is always the easiest course. So how do companies or people change? Chip Heath (organizational behavior, Graduate Sch. of Business, Stanford Univ.) and his brother, consultant Dan Heath, coauthors of Made To Stick, have teamed up again to show us that change can be a lot less painful than we fear. In their previous book, they explored how ideas catch on. Here they analyze what must be addressed if societal, organizational, and personal habits and practices are to be instilled with new ideas. They draw upon numerous behavioral studies, business case studies, and hypothetical examples to illustrate their principles. VERDICT This practical and entertaining work could easily be classified as a self-help tool. But since the authors also focus on organizational change and include dozens of vignettes from real companies, it's also a good managerial prescription for transformation. While it won't displace John Kotter's Leading Change as the classic text for "change managers," this catchy book offers fresh ideas and a breezy style that will work equally well for company executives, undergraduates, and average joes.—Carol J. Elsen, Univ. of Wisconsin Lib., Whitewater
From the Publisher
 “Witty and instructive…The Heath brothers think that the sciences of human behavior can provide us with tools for making changes in our lives—tools that are more effective than 'willpower,' 'leadership' and other easier-said-than-done solutions. …For any effort at change to succeed, the Heaths argue, you have to 'shape the path.' With Switch they have shaped a path that leads in a most promising direction.”
--The Wall Street Journal

“’Your brain is not of one mind,’" say the brothers Heath, co-authors of the bestseller Made to Stick. Using the terminology of University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt, the Heaths designate the emotional side of the mind as the Elephant and the rational side as the Rider…Switch is crammed with stories…covering a number of fields to drive home the importance of using the strengths of both the Rider and the Elephant to make change happen. This could be a valuable read for the would-be change-makers of the Obama administration.”
--Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“Whether you're a manager, a parent or a civic leader, getting people to change can be tricky business. In Switch, brothers Chip and Dan Heath--authors of the best-selling Made to Stick--survey efforts to shape human behavior in search of what works…Even when change isn't easy, it's often worth making.”

“Dan and Chip Heath have done it again…Any leader looking to create change in his organization need not look beyond this little book. It is packed with examples and hands-on tools that will get you moving right away. And it is really a fun read.”

“No one likes change. Trouble is, of course, that everyone probably needs at least some of it. Here, the authors of the bestselling Made to Stick return with a book that looks at all aspects of change in human lives, from dieting to spending, from corporations to governments...a readable, entertaining and thought-provoking book. “

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781847940322
  • Publisher: Random House Business Books
  • Publication date: 3/28/2011
  • Sales rank: 368,979

Meet the Author

Chip Heath is the Thrive Foundation for Youth Professor of Organizational Behaviour at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business. Dan Heath is a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at Duke University. Together, they are the authors of the national bestseller Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. They write a regular column in Fast Company magazine, and have appeared on Today, NPR's Morning Edition, MSNBC, CNBC, and have been featured in TimePeople and US News and World Report.
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Read an Excerpt


How to Change Things When Change Is Hard
By Chip Heath

Broadway Business

Copyright © 2010 Chip Heath
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780385528757

Chapter 1

The Three Surprises About Change


One Saturday in 2000, some unsuspecting moviegoers showed up at a suburban theater in Chicago to catch a 1:05 P.M matinee of Mel Gibson's action flick Payback. They were handed a soft drink and a free bucket of popcorn and asked to stick around after the movie to answer a few questions about the concession stand. These movie fans had unwittingly entered a study of irrational eating behavior.1

There was something unusual about the popcorn they received. It was wretched. In fact, it had been carefully engineered to be wretched. It'd been popped five days earlier and was so stale that it squeaked when you ate it. One moviegoer later compared it to Styrofoam packing peanuts, and two others, forgetting that they'd received the popcorn for free, demanded their money back.

Some of them got their free popcorn in a medium-sized bucket, and others got a large bucket--the sort of huge tub that looks like it might once have been an above-ground swimming pool. Everybody got their own individual bucket so there'd be no need to share. The researchers responsible for the study were interested in a simple question: Would the people with bigger buckets eat more?

Both buckets were designed to be so big thatno one could finish their portion. So the actual research question was a bit more specific: Would somebody with a larger inexhaustible supply of popcorn eat more than someone with a smaller inexhaustible supply?

The sneaky researchers weighed the buckets before and after the movie, so they were able to measure precisely how much popcorn each person ate. The results were stunning: People with the large buckets ate 53 percent more popcorn than people with the medium size. That's the equivalent of 173 more calories and approximately 21 extra hand-dips into the bucket.2

The author of the study, Brian Wansink, runs the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University and he described the results in his book Mindless Eating: "We've run other popcorn studies, and the results were always the same, however we tweaked the details. It didn't matter if our moviegoers were in Pennsylvania, Illinois, or Iowa, and it didn't matter what kind of movie was showing; all of our popcorn studies led to the same conclusion. People eat more when you give them a bigger container. Period."

No other theory explains the behavior. These people weren't eating for pleasure. (The popcorn was so stale it squeaked!) They weren't driven by a desire to "finish their portion." (Both buckets were too big to finish.) It didn't matter whether they were hungry or full. The equation is unyielding: Bigger container = more eating.

Best of all, people refused to believe the results. After the movie, the researchers told the moviegoers about the two bucket sizes and the findings of their past research. The researchers asked, do you think you ate more because of the larger size? The vast majority scoffed at the idea, saying things like, "Things like that don't trick me," or "I'm pretty good at knowing when I'm full."



Imagine that someone showed you the data from this study but didn't mention the bucket sizes. On your data summary, you'd see how much popcorn each person ate. You could quickly scan the results and see the differences--some people ate a little bit of popcorn, some ate a lot, and some seem determined to test the physical limits of the human stomach. Armed with a data set like that, you would have found it easy to jump to conclusions. Some people in the world are Reasonable Snackers and others are Big Gluttons.

A public health expert, studying that data alongside you, would likely get very worried about the Gluttons. We need to motivate these people to adopt healthier snacking behaviors! Let's find ways to show them the health hazards of eating so much! And maybe we should approach state legislators about a Big Bucket Ban!

But wait a second. If you want people to eat less popcorn, the solution is pretty simple: Just give them smaller buckets. You don't have to worry about their knowledge or their attitudes.

You can see how easy it would be to turn an easy change problem (shrinking people's buckets) into a hard change problem (influencing people's motivation or understanding, or changing the law). And that's the first surprise about change: What looks like a people problem is often a situation problem.


This is a book to help you change things when change is hard. We'll consider change at every level--individual, organizational, and societal. Maybe you want to help your brother beat his gambling addiction. Maybe you need your team at work to act more frugally because of market conditions. Maybe you wish more of your neighbors would bike to work.

Usually these topics are treated separately--there is "change management" advice for executives and "self-help advice" for individuals and "change the world" advice for activists. That's a shame, because all change efforts have something in common: For anything to change, someone has to start acting differently. Your brother has got to stay out of the casino; your employees have got to start booking coach fares. Ultimately, all change efforts boil down to the same mission: Can you get people to start behaving in a new way?

We know what you're thinking--people resist change. But it's not quite that easy. Babies are born every day to parents who, inexplicably, welcomed the change. Think about the sheer magnitude of that change! Such an idea would never fly in the work world: Would anyone agree to work for a boss who'd wake you up twice a night, screaming, for trivial administrative duties? And what if, every time you wore a new piece of clothing, the boss spit up on it? Yet people don't resist this massive change--they volunteer for it.

Enormous changes are all around us, and they often come voluntarily--not just babies, but marriages and new homes and new technologies and new job duties. Meanwhile, other behaviors are maddeningly intractable. Smokers keep smoking and kids grow fatter and your husband can't ever seem to get his dirty shirts into a hamper.

So there are hard changes and easy changes. What distinguishes one from the other? In this book, we'll argue that successful changes share a common pattern--they require the leader of the change to do three things at once. We've already seen the first of those three things: To change someone's behavior, you've got to change their situation.

The situation isn't the whole game, of course. An alcoholic might go dry in rehab, but what happens when they leave? Your sales reps might be hyper-productive when the sales manager shadows them, but what happens afterward? For someone's behavior to change, you've got to influence not just their environment but their hearts and minds. The trick is this: Often the heart and mind disagree. Fervently.


Consider the Clocky. It's an alarm clock invited by an MIT student and now manufactured by Nanda Home. It's no ordinary alarm clock--it has wheels. You set it at night and in the morning when the alarm goes off, it rolls off your nightstand and scurries around the room, forcing you to chase it down. Picture the scene: You're crawling around the bedroom in your underwear, stalking and cursing a runaway clock.

Clocky ensures that you won't snooze-button your way to disaster. And apparently that's a common fear, since about 35,000 Clockys have sold, at $50 each, in its first 2 years on the market.

The success of this invention reveals a lot about our psychology. What it means, fundamentally, is that we are schizophrenic. Part of us--our rational side--wants to get up at 5:45 a.m., allowing plenty of time for a quick jog before we leave for the office. The other part of us--the emotional side--wakes up in the darkness of the early morning, snoozing inside a warm cocoon of sheets and blankets, and wants nothing in the world so much as a few more minutes of sleep. If, like us, your emotional side tends to win these internal debates, then you might be a potential Clocky customer. The beauty of the device is that it allows your rational side to outsmart your emotional side. It's simply impossible to stay cuddled up under the covers when there's a rogue alarm clock rolling around your room.

Let's be blunt here: Clocky is not a product for a sane species. If Spock wants to get up at 5:45 a.m., he'll just get up. No drama required.

Our built-in schizophrenia is a deeply weird thing, but we don't think much about it, because we're so used to it. When we kick off a new diet, we toss the Cheetohs and Oreos out of the pantry, because our rational side knows that when our emotional side gets a craving, there's no hope of self-control. The only option is to remove the temptation altogether. (For the record, some MIT student will make a fortune designing Cheetohs that scurry away from people when they're on a diet.)

The unavoidable conclusion is this: Your brain isn't of one mind.

The conventional wisdom in psychology, in fact, is that our brains have two independent systems at work at all times. First, there's what we called the emotional side. It's the part of you that is instinctive, that feels pain and pleasure. Second, there's the rational side, also known as the reflective or conscious system. It's the part of you that deliberates and analyzes and looks into the future.

Psychologists have learned a lot about these two systems in the past few decades, but of course mankind has always been aware of the tension. Plato said that in our heads we've got a rational charioteer who has to rein in an unruly horse who "barely yields to horsewhip and goad combined." Freud wrote of the selfish id and the conscientious superego (and the ego who mediates between them). More recently behavioral economists have dubbed the two systems the Planner and the Doer.

But, to us, the duo's tension was captured best by an analogy used by the University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt in his wonderful book The Happiness Hypothesis. Haidt said that our emotional side is an Elephant, and our rational side is its Rider. The Rider, perched atop the Elephant, holds the reins and seems to be the leader. The Rider's control is precarious, though, because he's so tiny relative to the Elephant. Anytime the 6-ton Elephant disagrees with the direction, the Rider is going to lose. He's completely overmatched.

Most of us are all too familiar with situations where the Elephant overpowers our Rider. You've experienced this if you've ever: slept in, overeaten, dialed up your ex at midnight, procrastinated a report, tried to quit smoking and failed, skipped the gym, gotten angry and said something you regretted, abandoned your Spanish or jitterbug or piano lessons, refused to speak up in a meeting because you were scared, etc. Good thing no one is keeping score.

So the weakness of the Elephant, our emotional and instinctive side, is clear: It is lazy and skittish, often looking for the quick payoff (ice cream cone) over the long-term payoff (being thin). When change efforts fail, it's usually the Elephant's fault, since the kinds of change we want typically involve short-term sacrifices for long-term payoffs. (We cut back on expenses today to yield a better balance sheet next year. We avoid ice cream today for a better body next year.) Changes often fail because the Rider simply can't keep the Elephant on the road long enough to reach the destination.

The Elephant's weakness--the hunger for short-term _payoffs--is the mirror image of the Rider's strength, which is the ability to think long-term, to plan, to think beyond the moment. (All those things that your pet can't do.)

But what may surprise you is that the Elephant also has enormous strengths and that the Rider has crippling weaknesses. The Elephant isn't always the bad guy. Emotion is the Elephant's turf--love and compassion and sympathy and loyalty. That fierce instinct you have to protect your kids against harm--that's the Elephant. That spine-stiffening you feel when you need to stand up for yourself--that's the Elephant.

Just as important, the Elephant is the one who gets things done. To make progress toward a goal, whether it's noble or crass, requires the energy and drive of the Elephant. This strength is the mirror image of the Rider's great weakness: spinning his wheels. The Rider tends to over-analyze and overthink things. If you've ever met someone who can agonize for 20 minutes about what to eat for dinner, or if you've had a manager who could brainstorm about new ideas for hours but never seemed to get around to doing anything, you've met the Rider.

The challenge of a change agent is to appeal to both. If you reach the Riders of your team but not the Elephants, they'll have understanding without motivation. If you reach their Elephants but not their Riders, they'll have passion without direction. In both cases, their flaws can be paralyzing--a reluctant Elephant and a wheel-spinning Rider can both ensure that nothing changes. But when they are moving together, change can come easily.


It's not easy to achieve balance between the Rider and the Elephant, because change creates tension between them. When we change, we abandon behaviors that are comfortable and automatic in favor of new behaviors that are less familiar. Because they are less familiar, they require careful supervision by the Rider, who must lead the Elephant down an unfamiliar trail. Think of how we feel "on guard" when meeting new people, as compared with our effortless interactions with old friends. One set of behaviors is conscious and stage-managed ("Soooo nice to meet you!") and the other is natural, unconscious. When we change, we replace unconscious behaviors with conscious ones, and that can be exhausting. To see what we mean, we want to invite you to participate in a famous psychology experiment called the Stroop Test.

The Stroop Test is simple enough: On the next page, you're going to see a list of words. (Please note--the color version of the test will only appear in the finished book. To see the test in color, go to http://www.madetostick.com/resources/stroop.pdf.) Your job is simply to say, aloud, the color of each word in the list. For instance, if you saw these three words_._._._


._._._you'd say, "Black, Black, Black," since all three are printed in black ink. (Please do say the words aloud to get the full effect. If you're in public, people will just think you're talking on a really, really tiny cell phone.) Flip the page when you're ready.

STOP    GO       DOG









It felt pretty easy at first, didn't it? When the word and the color were the same, it was effortless. But then came the roadblock--the word "GREEN," which was printed in orange. Suddenly, your progress slowed.

People who take the Stroop Test perform pretty consistently. Once they hit that first roadblock, their answer speed is essentially cut in half. That's because a behavior that was automatic suddenly becomes conscious. When you hit the orange-colored word "GREEN," your brain calls a supervisor on duty, whose job is to examine each word carefully and separate GREEN-the-Word from Orange-Its-Color and serve up the word "Orange" to your lips.

Notice something remarkable: Your 3-year-old son or nephew, who can't read, could easily outperform you on this test, because he wouldn't have to call a supervisor. (Indeed, you'd do well if you took the Stroop Test in Chinese--you wouldn't recognize the symbols, so they couldn't throw you off.)


Excerpted from Switch by Chip Heath Copyright © 2010 by Chip Heath. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

1. Three Surprises About Change
2. Find the Bright Spots
3. Script the Critical Moves
4. Point to the Destination
5. Find the Feeling
6. Shrink the Change
7. Grow Your People
8. Tweak the Environment
9. Build Habits
10. Rally the Herd
11. Keep the Switch Going
How to Make a Switch
Overcoming Obstacles
Next Steps
Recommendations for Additional Reading
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 225 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 230 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 5, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Switching "On" Your Emotional Intelligence

    Switch is a compelling, story-driven narrative the Heaths use to bring together decades of counterintuitive research in psychology, sociology, and other fields to shed new light on how we can engage our emotions and reason to create real change. Books like this (Emotional Intelligence 2.0 is another great one) provide practical "how-tos" that add so much value for me. It has a test that tells you how good you are at keeping The Rider in control.**

    Switch is arranged around an analogy that illustrates the crux of emotional intelligence: when making a decision we are typically torn between our rational, logical reasons and our emotional, intuitive feelings. Chip and Dan ask us to imagine an Elephant and its Rider (the mahout). The Rider represents the rational and logical. Tell the Rider what to do, provide a good argument and the Rider will do it. The Elephant, on the other hand, represents our emotions, our gut response. If the Rider can direct the Elephant down a well-prepared path then there is a good chance for change. Otherwise, the massive elephant is bound to win.**

    The book is structured into three sections, each one suggesting specific behaviors you can follow:**

    I. Direct the Rider:
    - Find the bright spots
    - Script the critical moves
    - Point to the destination**

    II. Motivate the Elephant:
    - Find the feeling
    - Shrink the Change;
    - Grow your people**

    III. Shape the Path:
    - Tweak the environment
    - Build habits
    - Rally the herd**

    All in all, it's an effective and memorable illustration of emotional intelligence.

    48 out of 48 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 16, 2010

    A must have tool for all managers and business owners

    For the last five months I have been working on growing my people managing skills. While at a leadership conference I heard a very inspiring quote from Dave Ramsey, "The problem with your business, is yourself." As Vice President of a family business and the eventual person to ultimately take over someday. I realized I need to be much better at everything that I can be.

    This lead me to reading several books on personal development and leadership. The latest book I have read is Switch by Chip Heath & Dan Heath. I have never found a better way of look at and dealing with "making change" happen with any sort of success. From the opening chapter, I felt like I had opened my eyes for the first time to the world of successful change.

    I spent nearly 11 years working for a large retail chain. In that time we went through many different kinds of change. Some changes were good and easy, others were a total and complete failure. They even tried using great ideas from other great authors, but didn't engage "The Rider, The Elephant and The Path" properly, which lead to the typical corporate change.

    This idea of "The Rider, The Elephant and The Path" is such a logical approach to change that it seems crazy to even attempt any change without this approach. The only problem is, we never realize we are doing this when we have successful change and we don't realize that the reason change failed is because we didn't use this approach. Having now read this book, each time I need to implement change of any kind I will be using "The Rider, The Elephant and The Path."

    This is a must read for any manager, business owner, HR Department head, CEO, Board Chairman, or any leader of any kind. Marriage and Family Councilors can really benefit from this book as well. Parents and spouses can better their relationships with their spouses and their kids, by better understanding how to incorporate changes in their households.

    Chip & Dan Heath have written another winner here. I really enjoyed the Clinic sections that really helped in understanding how to use this ides to manage the process of changing. I plan to buy several more of these to give to people struggling with change, or just trying to become better leaders who have to deal with change from time to time. Thanks Chip & Dan, you have saved me a lot of headaches to come. Keep the great work coming.

    13 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2010

    Who Wants to Change?

    Enjoyed? No. Loved? Yes! Have been sharing it with friends for days and find myself analyzing situations from a new perspective.

    Was looking at it from three perspectives- a desire for personal change, a desire as a professional counselor to help others change, and a desire as an educator to help organizations change. Found answers for all three.

    Most notable to me was the dominant mood of optimism throughout the book with respect to the fact that change is possible. Too often the "rider" side of us takes over and we reason our way out of change, especially when we think that change will be more painful than the current situation.

    The Heaths dispel that notion with their innumerable real life examples of change which should serve as a motivation to the "elephant" side of all of us. They accurately point out that we make changes regularly and if we would use those as a guide, we would be able to make more changes. Unfortunately, we tend to dwell upon the changes that were not accomplished and think change is impossible.

    Their 3 step approach provides a simple, but useful, framework to bringing about change.

    Three key elements I have already used are the idea of removing barriers to change; recognizing that the middle of change may never look like what we thought it would look like; and that the path from hope to confidence is a u-shaped path that includes hardship, toil, and frustration before the insight comes that will give us confidence.
    (I used that the U-shaped graph with my college English class in talking about writing a research paper.)

    An excellent read with examples that can transfer to many fields.

    Can't wait for their next one.

    Highly recommend

    8 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Phenomenal book

    I was a big fan of the Heath brothers previous book, Made to Stick, so I was compelled to read this one...and it did not disappoint. The book clearly talks about how humans deal with change and how to break resistance to change, using real life examples of people and orgnazations that made difficult changes through the correct approach. Highly, highly reommended.

    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 24, 2010

    Informative, Helpful, and Entertaining

    I really enjoyed reading this book on change. In many ways it opened my eyes to things I could do now to help my staff and myself impliment and change policies and procedures in my office.

    The language of the book was simple, straight forward and the examples where real life and relavant to todays work place and society as a whole.

    Finished the book in just a few days, I never felt bogged down by excessive wording or irrevalant information.

    I would recommend this book to anyone who wonders why they have a difficult time changing, anyone someone who hates change, or someone who needs to help others change (like management, or a school teacher etc).

    After implementing only one idea in my office my production and staff moral have gone up 30% in just the last month. Amazing!

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2012


    Not that great and not that useful to be honest. Theres a lot of false hope in the book

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 1, 2010

    Great Book on Change

    Just like "Made to Stick" this is a great read. The book is well organized and even tough you may think that after reading the first pages you already know everything they have to tell you, they keep working on the main ideas so you have a frame work and examples on how to change and help people change the easy way. Of course change is not that easy but with this new vision and the insight that they provide certainly the modern manager or professional will have tools and a methodology to make it happen.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 13, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Switch: Change for the Average Person and Leaders

    I'm quite interested in the change process, but I'm worn out with the onslaught of change procedure manuals that focus on process and not people. Switch's focus is on people and how to help, motivate, and encourage them (us) through the change and it's (often perceived) barriers. It's not about callous manipulation and sterile, mechanistic change protocols. In fact Switch is an acknowledgement that our hearts, minds, and situations all play significant roles in how we approach and embrace/reject change. Brothers Heath in Switch "argue that successful changes share a common pattern. They require the leader to do three things at once.Direct the Rider, Motivate the Elephant, and Shape the Path." The Heath brothers don't take themselves too seriously and they are realistic about the framework they've created.

    "We created this framework to be useful for people who don't have scads of authority or resources.As helpful as we hope this framework will be to you, we're well aware, and you should be too, that this framework is no panacea."

    I absolutely appreciate the practical simplicity of those two sentences. In fact, I'm pretty sure the pages in that section of the first chapter sold me on the rest of the book.

    The Heath's conversational writing style and engaging storytelling provide fertile ground for their explanations and takeaway learnings. They're both educators, which adds extra credibility and perspective for me. They know a good word picture/example/metaphor/story when they steal it. Okay, they really don't steal the stuff they use in the book; they give credit where it's due. For their framework they have taken an analogy used by University of Virginia psychologist, Jonathan Haidt, of an elephant and it's rider.

    The essence of the rider, elephant, and path analogy-pattern-framework comes down to this: Direct the Rider -our rational side. "What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity. So provide crystal-clear direction. Motivate the Elephant -our emotional side. "What looks like laziness (or reluctance -my addition here) is often exhaustion.engage people's emotional sides." Shape the Path -our situations. "What looks like a people problem is often a situation problem. When you shape the Path, you make change more likely, no matter what's happening with the Rider and the Elephant.

    Throughout the book, the Heath's use surprising and entertaining stories to illustrate and clarify their Rider/Elephant/Path analogy. They are amazing, funny, poignant, incredible and sometimes jaw-dropping. Each story effective reinforces the sub-elements of the framework. Switch will provoke and entertain, stimulate and inspire, and reframe and refocus (note the section on SMART goals in chapter four, especially). I know it sounds a little like a commercial, but leaders in any capacity will find benefit in these pages. The takeaways at the end of the book with the Problem-Advice format add an additional dimension to the book and reinforce the lessons in the book.

    Switch has a wealth of resources for anyone wanting to keep people at the forefront of any change (small or large). I'm interested to see how those in the educational community respond as they read the book and incorporate it into their own change initiatives, knowing it is not an all-inclusive manual about top-down control. Here, the Heath's caution us, "Big problems are rarely solved with commensurately big solutions."

    4 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 19, 2010

    Fun Book with applicable techniques for change

    I read this book in two days(release on 2-16 finished it 2-18)- The real life stories and change techniques are really compelling and doable. This book provides people of all walks of life the tools to change and grow individual's mindsets, behaviors and habits. The psychological studies that the author write about focus on how individual s behaviors and habits can be changed; if we learn how to Direct the rational self, motivate the emotional self and show each them the right path to change.. Fun Book.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2012

    Good read. Too many examples to remember.

    Too many examples to remember and put to good use.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2012

    If you are facing change, in your job, an organization, or perso

    If you are facing change, in your job, an organization, or personal, you will find lots of help in this book. The Heath brothers tell compelling stories of change, then explain what make them work. The simple, concrete image of the Rider, the Elephant, and the Path will help you create change in your life and others.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 14, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Change doesn't just happen...

    Thought provoking and refreshing. It's not a miracle mechanical formula but natural review of why people are willing to change and how it can be motivated. This book has real and practical advice and will come back on my re-read list more than once.

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Food for Thought

    I really liked this book. I ended up highlighting some sections for future reference. Gave me a new perspective.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2010

    Short Cut to Success

    Those of us responsible for managing change in our organizations, or in our own lives, are often overwhelmed by the number of variables involved. Is this that problem? Is that the problem? Are both factors the problem? Are multiple factors part of the problem?

    In the midst of this muddle come Chip and Dan Heath, to offer three straightforward guidelines:

    Direct the Rider (Reasons, Direct the Rational Side of our Actions)
    Motivate the Elephant (Passions, Motivate the Emotional Side of our Actions)
    Shape the Path (Remove Impediments to Making the Change)

    When I first read the book, my immediate reaction was, "Too simple. Won't work." But the beauty of the Heaths' approach is its simplicity. Simply (no pun intended) approach every situation demanding change by asking yourself their three questions:

    What can I do to direct the rider . . . where may a lack of clarity be the issue?
    What can I do to motivate the elephant . . . have I linked the goal to key passions?
    What can I do to shape the path . . . what are the impediments to achieving change?

    I've gone from skeptic to believer. Change still can't be brought about magically, and there are no true short cuts to success. But the Heaths' book comes as close as you'll find, if looking for a way to organize your approach.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great Business Read!

    This was a fantastic book. I grabbed an advance copy in the breakroom one day at the bookstore and ended up devouring it in just three days. I really appreciated the accessible and easy-to-understand format the authors used. It seems like they've done their homework. Also, the stories are very interesting and are very good examples in conjunction with the subject matter. I learned a lot from this book. Not only is it a good business book, I'd recommend it for anyone [and the authors do too] who is trying to make any changes at all, whether in a large enterprise, a small non-profit, or just within yourself. Definitly pick up a copy. Looking forward to reading their other book now too.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2014


    This book is so good you try it out

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2012

    Enjoyed this read.

    Enjoyed this read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 5, 2012

    Worth the read!

    A way of thinking about change that I never considered before. I love the stories and examples given in the book. These are definitely suggestions that can be applied to all types of situations.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2012



    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2012

    Great book

    This is one of the best non-fiction books I have read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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