Switch (review)

The book "Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard" by Chip and Dan Heath summarizes itself like this:

When change works, it tends to follow a pattern. The people who change have a clear direction, ample motivation, and a supportive environment. In other words, when change works, it's because the Rider, the Elephant, and the Path are all aligned in support of the switch.

It describes the patterns we can observe in successful changes. So if you want to change something and it doesn't seem to work, this book has a ideas to think about.

It distinguishes clearly between these three aspect and each one splits into three points itself.

These are the basic ideas of the book. Around these ideas it provides plenty of anecdotal evidence and scientific studies.

At the end, there is also a list of references to common objections like:

The replies are references to the points and anecdotes mentioned above, so you need to read the book to really understand them. Well, here is something for the first anyways:

Everyone seems to agree that we need to change, but nothing's happening? Resistance if often lack of clarity so dissolve paralysis by clear actions (script the critical moves). For example, instead of "consume less fat", tell people to "buy low-fat milk". Maybe there just an obstacle which can be easily removed (tweak the environment)? Moving the furniture in the office can change perception. Remember that people take cues from the herd (rally the herd). For example, hotels have signs like "the majority of our guests reuse their towels".

Overall, the book makes you think about the changes you are in. If it doesn't work well, go through to list above and consider what is missing. A successful change addresses all three aspects (logic, emotion, environment) at once.

It does not even have to be your own change activity. Working in a big company, there are always campaigns going on around me like Bosch pools its software and electronics expertise in one division with 17,000 associates. You can compare the activity with the checklist above and search where the pattern for successful changes could be completed. For example, a company about to Cross The Chasm tries to change something. As OKRs are about change so you can find the patterns there as well.

If you are involved into large scale change initiative in a company, I would recommend to read The Heart of Change first. It is more focused but not grounded in science.

If you want to change something which is hard to change, I recommend this book. It is short and easy to read and will give you food for thought.

How to change things when change is hard