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on 8 June 2012
Whilst the Power of Habits looks specifically at changing habits, Switch examines the barriers to change and by understanding how our minds function unlock shortcuts to switches in behaviour.

There are hard and easy changes. They argue that successful changes share a common pattern. They require the leader of change to do 3 things at once.

Firstly to change someone's behaviour you've got to change that person's situation - their hearts and minds. Unfortunately their hearts and minds often disagree. Conventional wisdom identifies the emotional side of the brain and the rational part. The Heaths prefer to think of it as the Elephant (the emotion) and the Rider (the rational). Perched atop a six tonne elephant is a rider holding the reins. The rider's control is precarious because the Rider is so small compared to the elephant. The elephant has enormous strengths - love, compassion, loyalty and sympathy. And even more important the Elephant is the one that gets things done. If you want to change you have to appeal to both. The Rider provides the planning and direction and the elephant provides the energy.

The second surprise about change is that change is not hard because people are lazy or resistant. Change is hard because people wear themselves out. What looks like laziness is often exhaustion. Like the Power of Habit, Switch looks at self control and holds that it is an exhaustible resource. So make change easier. Focus on a small change. But make sure you reach the Elephant (the emotion) as well as the Rider.

The Rider provides direction. But the danger is analysis paralysis. What looks like resistance is often lack of clarity. The third key to change is clarity.

So the keys are :
Direct the rider
Follow the bright spots, Investigate what is working and clone it. Solutions based therapists believe there are exceptions to every problem and that those exceptions, once identified can be carefully analysed.
Script the Critical moves . Don't just think big picture. Think in terms of specific behaviours.
Point to the Destination. Change is easier when you know where you are going and why it is worth it.
Motivate the elephant
Find the feeling Knowing something is not enough to cause change. Make people feel something.
Shrink the change. Break down the change until it no longer spooks the elephant
Grow your people. Cultivate a sense of identity and instil the growth mindset.
Shape the Path
Tweak the environment. When the situation changes, the behaviour changes , so change the situation.
(simplifying time sheets, throw out automatic phone answering)
Build habits. When behaviour is habitual it does not tax the rider. Look for ways to encourage habits. Set action
Rally the herd. Behaviour is contagious. Help it spread.

Now I mus
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on 23 August 2010
An excellent book that I found thought provoking and inspirational.

The book was suggested by a colleague and I was interested enough to consider it. A really good example of explaining thoughts by the use of great case studies and a simple analogy for the concept.

The book describes how we can be in charge of our change to drive the things that we really need to happen. The use of willpower (the rider), emotion (the elephant) and our environment (the path) can combine together to achieve great things.

I loved the quote that some is not a number and soon is not a time.
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on 9 February 2011
Switch is a book that contains a wealth of information, both in terms of leading research into exacting change and also practical tips on how to implement that research. It is filled with case studies and examples of success stories, and whatever your particular area of change is, you are bound to find one that is a close match. Most of the premise of the book centres around the notion of the elephant-and-rider metaphor, and how people often attribute failed change to the wrong causes. In this regard, the central message of the book is fairly short, however it is explored in great detail which helps avoid the facets being overlooked.

It is written in an easily accessible style, and strikes a good balance between the formal and informal approach. Personally, I felt it was possibly a little long, and it wasn't a book that 'grabbed' me as some others have. However, the information contained in its pages is worth the investment, and touches onto areas of social and behavioural psychology outside of its core remit of bringing about change. It is a highly practical book, clearly written for an audience who are movers and shakers themselves.

One thing to note is that the book takes the professional and ethical approach to manipulating others, so don't expect clever NLP routines to bamboozle your friends into doing what you want: this is a book about changing workplaces, businesses, groups and governments, and doing so for the long-term. It is not a book of quick-fixes by any means. But this is good, as it shows that the authors are treating their subject seriously, and regard change as something that needs buy-in from all involved, not be force-fed to a reluctant or unaware audience. Derren Brown this is not.

I would recommend this book to anyone who works in or with an establishment which seems reluctant to "understand" or "appreciate" why change is necessary. You will learn that usually it is not the people who are at fault, but the collective situation they find themselves in. Then the book will teach you how to address that.
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on 15 May 2010
Excellent book on how to successfully implement a change initiative. It is enjoyable, interesting and contains lots of humour which makes it very easy to read.It contains interesting everyday examples of successful and unsuccessful attempts at managing change and reveals the many common causes of failure.It provides guidance for change both in the work environment and also in ones personal life. This is one of the best books I have read on the topic of change.
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on 18 November 2010
A very well written book on how to bring about change, both in your personal life and in organisations. It provides a great framework that is practical to use.
The examples that it gives are interesting and it provided plenty of insights that you could easily apply to other situations.

I read this a few months ago and am still using things that I learnt from this book.
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on 25 March 2011
This quote from Albert Einstein haunts my evaluation of Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip & Dan Heath, those Miliband brothers of the business world. Switch is a simple book. It is based on a simile - the emotional part of the mind is like an elephant, the rational part is like its rider, and getting them to work together requires roadwork. That's it, really.

So is this simple, or simplistic? Have they provided a structure for individual and corporate change that is easy to apply and powerful in it effects, with all unnecessary verbiage and overkill stripped away? Or is it a nice little story - borrowed from someone else - with a swamp of other, lesser stories engineered in to fill out some space?

This book made me think, which is always a plus. Switch's often repeated mantra that 'people problems are really situation problems' (3, 183) challenged my own view of the nature of change considerably. It also serves to explain the authors' suspicion of personality testing and analysis as a change mechanism (114 with note, 252, 258). Their main thesis seems to be that managing change is not a matter of reason or emotion but environment, not inner working (which are hard to influence) but the outer world (which is easier).

This environmental emphasis is further reinforced by their (research justified) assertions that 'willpower is not enough' (10) and 'knowledge is not enough' (30, 35, 109, 112, 175). In particular, the notion that increased information can easily lead to change gets a real kicking in Switch; knowledge without change is TBU - True But Useless (71). Rather, emotions are the key (105), or rather motivation as managed through tweaking your situation. To diagnose failure to change as a personal issue rather than a situational one is to commit the 'fundamental attribution error' (180 with note).

The authors are convincing when they analyse the problems of 'analysis paralysis' (33, 72) and 'decision paralysis' (50) inherent with reliance on reason ('the rider') alone. I enjoyed learning about BHAG's (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals - 75) and Black-and-White Goals (86), as well as the SEE-FEEL-CHANGE method of persuasion (106). I wanted to know more about the identity model of decision-making (153), the management technique of 'appreciative enquiry' (48 with note), and the theory of 'small wins' (136). I was glad to recognise the inclusion of key psychologists whose ideas have much to say to the world of work, such as Martin Seligman (121), Ellen Langer (124), Albert Bandura (129 with note) and Carol Dweck (164).

Most of the good stuff quoted above comes from the middle and strongest section of the book, 'Motivate the Elephant'. The authors had just done a great job of convincing you that the rider (reason) needs directing; this takes the first third of Switch. But it is in the crucial final section - 'Shape the Path' - that the books weaknesses emerge. Which are? Too much repetition of previously stated points. An over-use of illustrative, folksy stories with dubious immediate relevance. And suggested solutions that border on the childish e.g. checklists (220).

There also seems to me to be some basic points of tension in the message of Switch. We're told to give ourselves big, bold goals...but 'lower the bar' (130) and seek small victories. We're told to 'script' all our moves...but then leave the middle part of the journey to take care of itself (93). Perhaps this fuzziness is inevitable when you use metaphors to explain similes!

I'll take away from Switch the basic triadic model for change it promotes, as well as a newfound appreciation for the situational element in creating change. Reading Switch has also left me with a douzen-or-so different articles, concepts and thinkers to research. (Sometimes the references in the notes were the book's best bits.) And I'm persuaded by it that the usual mixture of information and perspiration - new facts and/or more willpower - are not sufficient or even the primary tools in our quest for improvement.

So, Switch, simple or simplistic? Simplistic, I'm afraid. However, Switch did provide enough additions and challenges to my current thinking about change to balance out its flaws a little. I would recommend Switch for those who want a self-help book but aren't familiar with the wider literature. As a business book, Switch's value might reflect the reader's prior knowledge of what to look out for. There are nuggets in the notes. The rest is a one-time read.
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on 16 July 2013
We all know change is hard, both at a personal and an organizational level. Lots has been written about it, much of which is overly simplistic, blatantly obvious, or plain boring or irrelevant. I started out thinking that "Switch" would fall into the same category, but was quickly won over by the Heath brothers' easy and entertaining style of writing, filled with good anecdotes, thought-provoking examples, and occasional references to scientific studies. They provide a three-pronged formula for how to make change happen, based on a simple metaphor of the rider of an elephant. The rider represents analysis and the mind while the elephant represents emotions and the heart. The rider holds the reins and can seemingly control the elephant but as the elephant is so much bigger than the rider it can follow its own course if it disagrees. The point of the book is that a successful change effort should direct the rider, motivate the elephant, and (as the third prong) shape the path of the change effort by providing clear and specific direction of where one wants to go.

There are many great nuggets of wisdom here, such as focusing and building on the bright spots instead of always analysing what is wrong, and hitting change targets at the gut (emotional) level. Each point is supported by easy-to-remember anecdotes ranging from the saving of species in St. Lucia and ending malnourishment of Vietnamese children to "fixing" dysfynctional and decentralized purchasing processes in a large company. It may not be revolutionary and it may at times be simplistic, but "Switch" provides a useful framework for how to think about change. However, at the end of the day each change effort is unique and needs to be addressed on its own terms.
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on 13 April 2010
Switch focusses on the importance of ensuring an emotional connection when making change. The book is written in a clear and practical way citing interesting stories that bring alive the concepts that the authors want to get across to the reader. Unlike many other books on change I found myself relaying the stories to my colleages as a way of sharing the learning I'd gained. I highly recommend this book.
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on 18 July 2013
I was recommended this book and so glad I was. I can see how I can apply the philosophy in my personal and professional life. Indeed the books website helps you shift your focus to read with a personal point of view or work. However, I found so many aha moments that I had to scribble in a lot of margins and underscore many very true statements - I haven't read a book that dragged me in so much in a few months.
I understand much clearer why 'head office' had declared dramatic changes and nothings happened and how inspirational Area Managers say one sentence and its motivated the whole team. Now I can do the same for my own little posse and hope to gain their full backing for changes I want to make.
Personally, I feel there is a clearer path towards gaining a happy and more fulfilled life; how I can inspire a teenager to tidy their room or do the washing up, how I can achieve chores without it being a chore, or even how I can exercise more without the excuses - now that is worth the book price in its own right!
You shouldn't just read this book, you should digest and think and revisit. You should give yourself time to make notes, set a plan and try a new way of living/working.
The writing style is understandable, humorous and thought provoking.
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on 15 December 2010
It had more in it than i expected, it really helps you to understand why a change might not stick for very long and why people put off making a change. Theres so much more to making a change in anything in your life than just deciding to change yourself or a situation and then going ahead and doing it, this books helps explain that and i was suprised by how most of us will overlook the obvious when trying to change a situation.

It helps you to see that an answer to how you can change something can be right there in front of you but you wouldn't realise it until you know how to approach the situation differently.

I found this book very interesting and im likely to go back to read over certain parts of it again.
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