Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard - Book Notes

by Zelia Leong

By Chip Heath, Dan Heath

Published: 2010

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard Book Notes

Who are Chip Heath and Dan Heath?

Chip Heath is the professor of Organizational Behavior in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. He received his B.S. degree in Industrial Engineering from Texas A&M University and his Ph.D. in Psychology from Stanford.

Dan Heath is an American bestselling author, speaker and fellow at Duke University's CASE center.

What is this book about?

Psychologists have discovered that our minds are ruled by two different systems - the rational mind and the emotional mind--that compete for control. 

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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Summary

Your rational mind is the Rider, and emotional mind is the Elephant. Both needs to work together and agree to move towards a single direction in order for successful change to happen.

HOW TO MAKE A SWITCH IN BEHAVIOUR

→ DIRECT the Rider

  • FOLLOW THE BRIGHT SPOTS.
  • Investigate what’s working and clone it.
SCRIPT THE CRITICAL MOVES. Don’t think big picture, think in terms of specific behaviors.
  • POINT TO THE DESTINATION. Change is easier when you know where you’re going and why it’s worth it.

→ MOTIVATE the Elephant

FIND THE FEELING. Knowing something isn’t enough to cause change. Make people feel something.

SHRINK THE CHANGE. Break down the change until it no longer spooks the Elephant.

GROW YOUR PEOPLE. Cultivate a sense of identity and instill the growth mindset.

→ SHAPE the Path

  • TWEAK THE ENVIRONMENT. When the situation changes, the behavior changes. So change the situation.
  • BUILD HABITS. When behavior is habitual, it’s “free”—it doesn’t tax the Rider. Look for ways to encourage habits.

Notes

Chapter 1: Three Surprises About Change

  • The emotional side is the part of you that is instinctive, that feels pain and pleasure. (Elephant)
  • The rational side is the part of you that deliberates and analyzes and looks into the future. (Rider)
  • The Rider holds the reins and seems to be the leader. But the Rider’s control is precarious because the Rider is so small relative to the Elephant.
  • If you want to change things, you’ve got to appeal to both. The Rider provides the planning and direction, and the Elephant provides the energy.
  • Self-control is an exhaustible resource.
  • What looks like laziness is often exhaustion.
  • If you reach your colleagues’ Riders but not their Elephants, they will have direction without motivation.
  • What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity.
  • If you want people to change, you must provide crystal-clear direction.

Part 1 - Direct the Rider

Chapter 2: Find the Bright Spots

  • Search the community for bright spots—successful efforts worth emulating.
  • Eliminate any bright spots who weren’t “typical.”
  • The Miracle Question: “What’s the first small sign you’d see that would make you think the problem was gone?"
  • Exception Question: “When was the last time you saw a little bit of the miracle, even just for a short time?”
  • “What’s working and how can we do more of it?” That’s the bright-spot philosophy in a single question.
  • Big problems are most often solved by a sequence of small solutions.

Chapter 3: Script the Critical Moves

  • Ambiguity is the enemy. You need to script the critical moves.
  • Clarity dissolves resistance.

Chapter 4: Point to the Destination

  • When you describe a compelling destination, you’re helping to correct one of the Rider’s great weaknesses—the tendency to get lost in analysis.
  • You need a gut-smacking goal, one that appeals to both Rider and Elephant. Not SMART goals.
  • Destination postcards show the Rider where you’re headed, and they show the Elephant why the journey is worthwhile.
  • Just look for a strong beginning and a strong ending and get moving.

Part 2 - Motivate the Elephant

Chapter 5: Find the Feeling

  • The sequence of change is not ANALYZE-THINK-CHANGE, but rather SEE-FEEL-CHANGE.
  • You’re presented with evidence that makes you feel something.
  • Focus on positive emotions and feelings, not negative ones.

Chapter 6: Shrink the Change

  • Look for those first two stamps to put on your team’s cards.
  • The Elephant hates doing things with no immediate payoff.
  • You need to lower the bar, and reassure it that the task won’t be so bad.
  • One way to shrink change, is to limit the investment you’re asking for.
  • Focus attention on small milestones that are attainable and visible rather than on the eventual destination, which may seem very remote.

Chapter 7: Grow Your People

  • Our brains and our abilities are like muscles. They can be strengthened with practice.
  • Whereas the Rider needs direction, the Elephant needs motivation.
  • Motivation comes from feeling—knowledge isn’t enough to motivate change.
  • There are two routes to building people’s confidence so that they feel “big” relative to their challenge.
  • You can shrink the change or grow your people (or, preferably, both).

Part 3 - Shape the Path

Chapter 8: Tweak the Environment

  • Be aware of Fundamental Error and remove it.
  • What looks like a people problem is often a situation problem.
  • What looks like a “character problem” is often correctible when you change the environment.
  • Simple tweaks of the Path can lead to dramatic changes in behavior.

Chapter 9: Build Habits

  • To change yourself or other people, you’ve got to change habits.
  • Build a mental plan using an "action trigger". which protect goals from tempting distractions, bad habits, or competing goals.
  • Action triggers create an “instant habit", allowing for behavioural autopilot.
  • Even a simple checklist can make a difference to help people stay on the path.

Chapter 10: Rally the Herd

  • In ambiguous situations, we all look to others for cues about how to behave.
  • Make good behavior contagious.

Chapter 11: Keep the Switch Going

HOW TO MAKE A SWITCH

→ DIRECT the Rider

  • FOLLOW THE BRIGHT SPOTS.
  • Investigate what’s working and clone it.
SCRIPT THE CRITICAL MOVES. Don’t think big picture, think in terms of specific behaviors.
  • POINT TO THE DESTINATION. Change is easier when you know where you’re going and why it’s worth it.

→ MOTIVATE the Elephant

FIND THE FEELING. Knowing something isn’t enough to cause change. Make people feel something.

SHRINK THE CHANGE. Break down the change until it no longer spooks the Elephant.

GROW YOUR PEOPLE. Cultivate a sense of identity and instill the growth mindset.

→ SHAPE the Path

  • TWEAK THE ENVIRONMENT. When the situation changes, the behavior changes. So change the situation.
  • BUILD HABITS. When behavior is habitual, it’s “free”—it doesn’t tax the Rider. Look for ways to encourage habits.

I've learned a lot from books by Dan Heath and Chip Heath (yes, they're brothers). Another of my favourite book from them is Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.

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Have a good one!

Zelia

Co-founder of RewardNation