Book Review: Switch

The second in the two part reading series (see my earlier post on Made to Stick), is Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip & Dan Heath.

Although a good read, the book was not as strong as the previous (my thought is that, on the success of Made to Stick, the publisher insisted they write another book, as some of the content comes from their previous writings). However, there is still something to be learned from Switch.

The premise of the book revolves around creating change: be it personally, professionally, or within your market. How do you get users to change their habits, and how can you guide the process? The authors use the analogy of an elephant with a rider. There are three areas to consider: the elephant, who is emotional and easily spooked, the rider, who is calculating and analytical, and the path, which determines can help or hinder based on its ease of navigation.

The first two (the rider and the elephant) are essential to get in tandem. If you reach the riders of your team but not the elephants, team members will have understanding without motivation. If you reach their elephants but not their riders, they’ll have passion without direction. However, when both move together, change can be swift and powerful.

The book is broken down into those three sections, with each section consisting of three sub-chapters.

  1. Directing the Rider: you find the bright spots (look for current successes and study them), script the critical moves and point to the destination
  2. Motivate the Elephant: you find the feeling, shrink the change to make it manageable, and grow your people
  3. Shape the Path: tweak the environment (to make habits easier to follow), build habits, and rally the heard (get everyone on board, and focus on their identity)

Overall, although some of the material was repetitive having just read Made to Stick, the structure was good and provided some additional insight and practical ideas. I would suggest that if you are having trouble forming habits personally, or getting people you work with to change existing habits, or want to better understand the idea of prompting a change in habits, you read this book. It is as much a psychological discourse as it is a book on business acumen!


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