If you’ve been following the action here at StrategyCentral for any length of time, you know that change is an important topic. How to help people move from the status quo to what’s next is a huge part of what our conversation has been. So you’ll understand when I tell you that the newest offering from Chip and Dan Heath is a must read. If you lead an organization that is doing anything of significance…you need to be reading this book.
Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard is very practical. On top of practical, it introduces a language that has the potential to permeate your organization and become part of the way your team talks about bringing change.
As was the case with their previous book, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, Switch is a very story-driven book. Written in a style made popular by Malcolm Gladwell (The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers), the Heath brothers make every point by referring to the example of a research project or case study. This makes for a very engaging read.
The book takes a core metaphor and teases it out to make three big ideas easy to understand and tempting to act upon. The metaphor is that while our emotions often spur action or a predictable pattern of response (referred to as The Elephant), our rational side can play a role (referred to as The Rider). The three big ideas are that:
- It’s possible to direct the rider
- The elephant can be motivated
- The path that rider and elephant take can be shaped
For me, one of the most important aspects of a book is its immediate application. I ask the question, “How can this be applied?” Switch is a book that I devoured. It started out a page turner and got better as the authors began to tie together the concepts. It’s really marked up. There were never more than a few pages turned that I wasn’t thinking, “This can be applied to that!” In addition, it stayed applicable right to the end. In fact, the last section on smoothing the path might have been the most practical and application oriented part of the book.