Book Review: “Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard” by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

Switch is about making difficult changes. The author came up with a formula how to direct the rider, motivate the Elephant and shape the path. I think they are probably a good framework. Many examples were given to reinforce the framework. Very good book for someone who want to take on the challenge of changing people and make a difference. A summary is as follows:

Direct the rider (the thinker)

Find the bright spots:
Investigate what’s working and clone it.
Solving malnutrition problem in a Vietnam village.
Use solution-focused therapy (not caring about archaeology): what’s the first small sign you’d see that would make you think the problem was gone.

Script the critical moves
Don’t think big picture, think in terms of specific behavior.
When the road is uncertain, the Elephant will insist on taking the default path. Decision paralysis can be deadly for change – because the most familiar change is always the status quo. Use clear rules. 1% milk vs. eat healthy. Set behavior goals. Force abusive parents to play with the kids (bend like a reed.) Clarity dissolves resistance.

Point to the Destination
Change is easier when you know where you’re going and why it’s worth it.
Destination postcards: “You will be 3rd grader soon.” Use SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and timely) goals. Emotional goals work better. B&W (Black & White) goals: BP’s “no dry holes” goal. “When you’re at the beginning, don’t obsess about the middle, because the middle is going to look different once you get there. Just look for a strong beginning and a strong ending and get moving.”

Motivate the Elephant (emotion)
Find the feeling
Knowing something isn’t enough to cause change. Make people feel something.
Use the SEE-FEEL-CHANGE. Use of video game for teenager cancel patients.

Shrink the change
Break down the change until it no longer spooks the Elephant. Limit the investment you’re asking for. Think small wins. A small deal reduces importance, reduces demand, and raises received skill levels – all three factors will tend to make change easier and more self-sustaining.

Grow the people
Cultivate a sense of identity and instill the growth mindset.
Convince people they’re the people of the desired state. Two basic models of decision making: consequence model and identity model (ask “who am I? what kind of situation is this? What would someone like me do in this situation?”). How can you make your change a matter of identity rather than a matter of consequences? Fixed mindset vs. growth mindset – Will struggle, we will fail, we will be knocked down – but throughout, we’ll get better and we’ll succeed in the end. The Elephant has to be believe that it’s capable of conquering the change: shrink the change or/and grow the people.

Shape the Path
Tweak the environment
When then situation changes, the behavior changes. So change the situation. [Front coaches for early bird students. Quiet hours. Throwing out the phone system at Rackspace, 1-click ordering, simplifying the online time sheet]

Build habits
When behavior is habitual, it’s “free” – it doesn’t tax the rider. Look for ways to encourage habits. [Setting “action triggers,” eating two bowls of soup while dieting, using checklists]

Rally the herd
Behavior is contagious. Help it spread. [“Fataki” in Tanzania, “free spaces” in hospital, seeding the tip jar]