Saturday, February 9, 2013

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard


Why are some changes so hard to make, while others seem easy? Why do some changes succeed and others fail? How are lasting changes made? Chip and Dan Heath attempt to answer such questions in Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by guiding the user through their “Switch” framework for making successful changes.

The framework is categorized into three primary areas:
  1. Direct the Rider”: the “rider” is the rational, intellectual, and will power or a person. The rider is directed by showing what the change will accomplish and then providing steps the rider can take to start making the change. However, in order to successfully implement change, the individual must not fall into the common pitfall of disregarding the two following steps. 
  2. Motivate the Elephant”: the “elephant” is the emotional or feeling side of the person. Even if a person knows they should do something, say get healthier, and knows a specific way to start, go for a walk at lunch, most people still are unable to make a lasting change. This is because the elephant, or their emotional side, isn’t engaged. For change to take affect the person must identify with the change (the elephant), and feel that it’s right for them.
  3. Shape the Path”, change the environment or system to make the change easier. The easier it is for a person to get started down the path of change the more likely that person is to start. Once the person has started down the path of making changes, the path can continue to be shaped by rewarding the user for the steps they have already taken to encourage further steps and continuing to make the path easy for the person to keep the change going. That initial success and rewards then helps to further motivate the elephant to keep going with the change. 
Switch balances the fine line between providing scientific research and background support inter mixed with many case studies and real life examples applying the theories and their framework. This gives the reader confidence that the switch framework is well thought out and proven to work. For zoos and aquariums this can be applied in many areas from helping visitors take more conservation action, to helping staff and volunteers make changes within the organization. I highly recommend reading Switch.