Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hardby Chip Heath, Dan Heath, Charles Kahlenberg
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/i>/b>
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.
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 Heathauthors of the best-selling Made to Sticksurvey 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. “
- Random House Audio Publishing Group
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Read an Excerpt
SwitchHow to Change Things When Change Is Hard
By Chip Heath
Broadway BusinessCopyright © 2010 Chip Heath
All right reserved.
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
FISH FROG JUICE
GREEN RED BLACK
BLUE GREEN ORANGE
RED BLACK GREEN
GREEN BLUE BLACK
RED GREEN BLUE
GREEN RED ORANGE
BLUE RED BLUE
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.
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 Time, People and US News and World Report.
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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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
This book is so good you try it out
Too many examples to remember and put to good use.
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.
Not that great and not that useful to be honest. Theres a lot of false hope in the book
Love the relaxed atmosphere! Great place for study groups too. You can have a cup of coffee and check out the books...it's great!
the complete study of change, on social and organizational levels, but also on the personal level. Make it happen with this book - I am. I found it helped to draw up a decision tree after I read it, using all facets of change.
Easy to understand the big concepts and the underlying details so you can put the info to use quickly The story examples bring the concepts to life and help change your thought processes concerning change This isnt just about big changes but also about execution and results
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.
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.
The information is this book is fascinating. Although I wouldn't recommend this to the average reader I would say that if this is your field or you even have an interest in this topic you'll be very interested.
No name. Plweese? Well... That story was great.
Pretty dank duude!!!