Switch: How to Change Things when Change is Hard by Chip & Dan Heath (2010)
Change is often hard in any circumstance. The Heath brothers take on this issue by breaking change down into three specific areas that could each serve as catalyst for change. According to Laura Tillistrand, Leasa Tvedt, Leah Beth Parsons, and Jakita Jones, the Heath brothers successfully build their argument using a metaphor of a rider sitting atop an elephant in motion.
- Direct the Rider (think). The rider can see beyond the present, but can get stuck in thinking and not doing. Specific behavioral changes – like identifying successes, writing manageable plans, and pointing toward the destination – can help to direct a thought process toward change.
- Motivate the Elephant (feel). The elephant does the major work for the group, and its feelings can shape the way it moves. Specific behavioral changes – like identifying feelings, shrinking perceptions of obstacles, and investing in the strength of workers – can direct an organization’s members through change. According to Parsons, “the leader’s issue is confidence, but the workers’ issue is motivation.”
- Shape the Path (environment). The environment, rather than an individual, may be the root cause of obstacles to change. Specific behavioral changes – like modifying the elements of a situation, encouraging good habits, and rallying advocates to the cause – may shape a situation and render it ripe for change.
“We’re not trying to change the people, but rather to tweak the situation or the mindset or the behavior in hopes that it inspires change,” says Tillistrand.
“I used these principles today,” says Tvedt, “and that’s how you switch.”
- Overall Response: The book practices what it preaches by breaking down the situation into manageable units that seem perfectly feasible.
About Digital Media Book Club: In the growing field of strategic communication, social media rockstars, academics, and digital thinkers are investing time and energy to share their learning with others. In my Strategic Communication classes, students in the Master of Arts in Organizational and Strategic Communication program in the Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte are sifting through a variety of texts to discover the embedded wisdom. These are their thoughts and reactions.