Book Review: Switch–How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

I recently read Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, by Chip and Dan Heath.


Highly Recommend: this was a spectacular, engaging book on leading change.

Here were my biggest takeaways.

  • Change is emotional. What looks like laziness is often exhaustion. The authors use the analogy of a rider (who responds to reason) on an elephant (who responds to emotion).  To make change happen, you have to “engage the elephant”–speak to people on an emotional level in a tangible, memorable way.
  • Environment really matters.  What looks like a people problem is often a situation problem.  The authors open the book with a story about movie theater popcorn.  Simply decreasing the size of the popcorn container dramatically decreased the amount of popcorn people ate.  This was a funny story–but it illustrates the impact of context on people’s actions.
  • Clarity is essential.  What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity.  If you’re trying to change an action, you need to be incredibly clear and specific about exactly what needs to happen, or precisely what you’re asking for.

Key quote from the book:

When change works, it tends to follow a pattern.  The people who change have a clear direction, ample motivation, and a supportive environment.”

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