Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard is a book about bringing about change, particularly when change is difficult. Chip and Dan Heath identify three critical elements of any process or program of change: direct the rider, motivate the elephant, and shape the path. Said in less vivid language,

“For individuals’ behavior to change, you’ve got to influence not only their environment but their hearts and minds. The problem is this: Often the heart and mind disagree. Fervently.” (p 5).

A friend and I are working our way through the book. Here are the posts coming out of those and other conversations.

(If you want a brief overview, go to this video review of Switch as a whole from Chris Brogan.)

Chapter 1: Looking for 1% milk

According to Chip and Dan Heath, who tell the story in Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, the two researchers built a media campaign around that simple change. They showed that one glass of whole milk has the same amount of saturated fat as five strips of bacon. They showed the amount of fat in other ways. And they said, “Buy lowfat milk.”

Before the campaign, less than one in five gallons of milk people bought was lowfat. After the campaign? More than two in five.

I love that story. But I have to work to understand how it works for me.

Chapter 2: Finding bright spots

f you want to stop wasting time browsing on the Internet, finding a bright spot means “Make a list of 2-3 times you turned off the computer and were incredibly creative.” If you want to help your kids stop fighting, finding a bright spot means “make a list of 2-3 times they cooperated.” If you want to get people to be more proactive about accessibility, invite them write definitions of what accessibility means to you.”

Chapter 3: Script the critical moves

Because options and ambiguity confuse people, the Heaths say, if you want to help people change, clearly identify what you want people to do.

They look at research among doctors, grocery stores, abusive parents, a Brazilian railroad, and kids in a small town in South Dakota.  Throughout those stories, they show us that “clarity dissolves resistance.”

Over and over we ask people to change, we tell people to change, we encourage people to change, but we don’t carefully identify a simple clear step to change. And our brains get confused.

Chapter 3: Do something concrete

In the past I would have said, “let me think about it and get back to you.” In the past I would have said, “let’s look at a brochure.” In the past I would have taken the burden of involvement on my shoulders.

But the most important thing for her to do is to actually do something. This week. That will help someone else. In her timeframe.

I think that having written about Switch the day before helped. Scripting the critical moves in this case meant helping my friend move from a vague “I want to do something” to “here’s what I can do this week.”

Chapter 4: Point to the destination

A destination postcard is a vivid picture from the nearterm future that shows what could be possible. (Switch, p 76)

Miscellaneous: Never too good to revise

Here’s the lesson for me: you are never too good to revise what you write.

I love to finish a draft of a post and hit publish. I don’t like the idea of rereading, of revising, of throwing something away and finding something even better. And then I think of two guys who write as well, who sell as well, as the Heaths, and I think “I’ll bet they never have to revise.”

And now I have this proof that they do revise. And that it makes things better.


Above and following is an affiliate link for the book. If you order it, I’ll get a little money (but it won’t cost you extra.)  Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard.

I also need to tell you that the copy I have is an advance copy I was sent because I requested it. I requested it because I was a fan of their previous book, Made to Stick. However, I will be buying my own copy when the book comes out in February. (And a handful of copies for other people.)


5 responses to “Switch

  1. Pingback: never too good to revise « Levite Chronicles

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