The Heath brothers, Chip and Dan, offer up a compelling framework for effecting change in their book Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard.
If you have read the Heath Brothers’ previous book, Made to Stick, the format of Switch will be familiar. The authors share stories of several individuals’ efforts in creating change in their work or organizations and what principles enabled them to be successful.
The book relies heavily on the analogy of the Elephant and the Rider originally created by psychologist Jonathan Haidt in his book The Happiness Hypothesis. Our minds have an emotional side (the elephant) and a rational side (the rider).
In Switch, the authors explain how to control and persuade both sides of our minds, the emotional and rational pieces. This framework consists of three primary parts: direct the rider, motivate the elephant, and shape the path.
Direct the Rider
The rider is logical and needs to be persuaded rationally.
When trying to change things, find out what is already working. Look for these “bright spots” and build on those successes. Replicate that success elsewhere. Sometimes the best solutions are small ones, even to big problems.
Script the Critical Moves
Establish checklists or rules that help people along to the change without having to make decisions. People will be paralyzed by indecision and will revert to their default behavior. With a script, they overcome the ambiguity and uncertainty and won’t get worn out by constantly having to think about what to do.
Point to the Destination
Paint a “destination postcard” of what life will be like once the change is completed. This will help people visualize what they are working towards. Establish clear black and white goals that leave no room for misinterpretation – either you are moving towards your goal or you aren’t.
Motivate the Elephant
The elephant is significantly larger than the rider. It is the emotional side of each person that needs to be motivated or change will never happen.
Find the Feeling
People don’t change because they think about it. People change because they feel the need for it. Feelings and emotions are more powerful for creating change than just a logical understanding. Instead of following a pattern of “analyze-think-change” try “see-feel-change”.
Shrink the Change
Help people feel closer to their goal than they already are. Give people a head start to help keep them motivated. Break down tasks into small components so that people can’t help but feel a sense of victory and accomplishment.
Grow Your People
Teach your people what they can be and what they can achieve. They may be stuck in a restrictive mindset that limits their ability to reach new heights and their full potential. Work on changing those mindsets and attitudes to enable the change you need.
Shape the Path
Make it obvious and easy for the rider to guide the elephant down the path you want them to travel.
Tweak the Environment
People often act a certain way because of their environment, not because of some inherent personality trait. Change the situation to help move your people towards your goal.
Once your changes are set in stone — as a habit — it will be easy for your people to continue doing them. Help people form habits by setting up triggers that remind them to do certain things or giving them scripts/checklists to guide them.
Rally the Herd
Social proof is a powerful psychological tool to persuade people to change. Get your people surrounded by others that are in favor of your change and the group will follow.
Recommendation: Read this Book
Switch contains a lot of anecdotes about people who were successful in effecting change. The authors then reference back to these stories throughout the book to help make further points. This makes it difficult to simply skim the book or use it as a reference unless you read the whole thing.
Nevertheless, the framework for change that the Heath Brothers outline is powerful and an effective one. It would benefit you to learn this process and then try it out when you need to effect some change in your business.
I’d recommend you check the book out from the library or borrow it from a friend. Then print the Switch framework out from the Heath Brothers’ website for future reference.
You can buy Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard on Amazon.com.