Friday, May 28, 2010

Book Review - Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Title: Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard
Author: Chip Heath and Dan Heath  
Year: 2010 
Page: 320 
Genre: Non-Fiction - Human Behavior

New to me author? No 
Read this author again? Yes 
Tearjerker? No 
Where did it take place? US
FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from
The Heath brothers (coauthors of Made to Stick) address motivating employees, family members, and ourselves in their analysis of why we too often fear change. Change is not inherently frightening, but our ability to alter our habits can be complicated by the disjunction between our rational and irrational minds: the self that wants to be swimsuit-season ready and the self that acquiesces to another slice of cake anyway. The trick is to find the balance between our powerful drives and our reason. The authors' lessons are backed up by anecdotes that deal with such things as new methods used to reform abusive parents, the revitalization of a dying South Dakota town, and the rebranding of megastore Target. Through these lively examples, the Heaths speak energetically and encouragingly on how to modify our behaviors and businesses. This clever discussion is an entertaining and educational must-read for executives and for ordinary citizens looking to get out of a rut.

First Sentence:
One Saturday in 2000, some unsuspecting moviegoers showed up at a suburban theater in Chicago to catch a 1:05pm matinee of Mel Gibson's action flick Payback.  

Why did I pick this book?
I had read the authors' first book, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, and really enjoyed it. It was very helpful, especially for my job. So I was excited that they had a new book came out this year, which is even more relevant to my job (we deal with change management a lot.)

My thoughts:
  • I found some useful tips in this book, but I still like Made to Stick better in terms of content. I think Made to Stick was clearer, and I knew which part of "SUCCES" we were at (SUCCESS = Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions and Stories). In Switch, I like the Elephant and Rider analogy used (more of that later in the quote), but sometimes I got confused because some examples were mentioned in different parts of the books, so it seemed like we were talking in circles
  • Nevertheless, this is a pretty easy read as the writing was simple and clear, there are lots of examples (some of which I had known before, from college - I was a psych major - or from other books). It is NOT a self-help book though. The authors gave us the framework, and gave us some case studies, but you have to apply the principles to your own situation accordingly. So how much you get out of this book will depend on how well you can transfer the knowledge.  
  • Their website has more info:
  • What looks like a people problem is often a situational challenge
  • "See, Feel, Change" works much better than "Analysis, Think, Change" 


    Direct the Rider (our logical, rational side)
    •     Follow the Bright Spots -- learn from what is working
    •     Script the Critical Moves -- give clear directions
    •     Point to the Destination -- what is the ideal state?

    Motivate the Elephant (our emotional side)
    •     Find the feeling -- what moves us?
    •     Shrink the change -- make the change look smaller than it is, take that first little step
    •     Grow your people -- we have room for growth

    Shape the Path (the surrounding environment in which change will be made)
    •     Tweak the environment -- make it easy to change!
    •     Build habits -- we are creatures of habits
    •     Rally the herd --people tend to do what the majority does
    (Here is a good summary with examples from a blogger Timothy Zaun)


    Have you read this book? 
    If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!

    100+ Reading
    Non-Fiction Five


    1. @Juju - I enjoyed their first book, Made to Stick, better. But this is useful for my day job! A quick read.