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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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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 12 April 2017
Sadly I wholeheartedly agree with the Two Star ratings that some have given.

I think those who have given it Five Stars may not have read many similar books and so the concepts are refreshing and new to them (that sounded derogatory, it's not). Having read several of the books they've "drawn experience from" they are simply re-phrasing passages of other books with this repetitive Rider and Elephant narrative applied to each.

If you read the longer reviews on Amazon that go into the details of the core concepts, you've effectively read everything the book has to offer. It feels like someone writing an essay for class who just changes the wording of big sections of others work to avoid plagiarism. They offer ZERO of their own insight, beyond aforementioned Rider and Elephant analogy (your Rider is your rational brain, Elephant is your emotional brain).
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on 17 December 2016
Chip and Dan Heath's books tend to get their point across in the first 50 pages then repeat themselves continually throughout the rest of the book, and this book is no different. The book also reads like a series of case studies and you don't really get to connect with the authors because the style of writing is very academic. It's almost as if the authors don't want to offer their own experiences, opinion, and thoughts but want to direct the reader to examples from other people that prove their points instead.

This leads me to believe that perhaps the authors don't have the experience themselves and are 'reporting' on facts rather than giving the reader the benefit of their own experience. The reporting style breaks leads me to question the expertise of the authors themselves, I'd rather read a book from someone who have 'lived' the experiences they're writing about and I just didn't get that from this book.

I found the same thing with their book 'Made To Stick' so I'll probably avoid future books by the authors. Buy it for the first few chapters but expect not to finish it.
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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 21 November 2014
This is a really helpful book for anyone who wants to make changes in their life. The multiple true and relevant stories make is very easy to read and highly enlightening. I read the Kindle edition and then bought the paperback for continuous reference. I still use many of the stories that Chip and Dan researched for this book in my coaching practice; my clients always find them inspiring and relevant to their situations.

David Ferrers, author of SWAP, The Best Way to Make Your Dreams Come True
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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 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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on 10 September 2011
Best book i read this year. My kids are now cleaning the house and my clients find it so much easier to choose the "better path" instead of just talking about where they want to go. Highly recommend this book. For the openminded it is life changing.
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