June 7th, 2011

planet

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip & Dan Heath

I read Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip & Dan Heath book for my women's bookclub at work. I'd recommend it. It's about how to change things, but even more, how to convince people to get on board with your change.

I wish more people in the corporate world would read this book, because then maybe they'd learn that you cannot light the world afire with a long vague powerpoint presentation, no matter how bright your idea is. No brilliant campaign to make the world a better place ever started with slides of charts. That is not a spark or a motivator. It's going to be forgotten.

Throughout the book the authors draw this image of a rider on top of an elephant. Your goal is to get them going in a new direction. The rider is the thinker in us, who gets spun up in facts and figures, who hates making decisions. The elephant is the big lumbering feeler who just wants to go in a direction.

So to motivate the rider you have to paint a clear picture with goals along the way, eliminate frustrations. Don't just say "eat healthy", say "switch from whole to 1% milk". Let the rider know what the path looks like and where to go. Don't show pages of facts and figures, he'll just want to try to make his own mind up and debate you.

To motivate the elephant you have to be positive and encouraging. They had this great story about a car wash that gave out punchcards... fill out your card, get a free car wash. Some of the cards had eight squares. Others had ten squares, but two were already punched. Even though they both required eight car washes to get a free one, the people who were given the ten square ones were a lot more likely to come back, because they felt like they were part of the way to a goal, not starting at zero.

They also talk a lot about how we see people... we tend to see people as concrete "they are who they are" entities, but we're really mostly products of our situation. Those "nanny 911" shows are amazing to us, because the awful kids at the beginning are terrific kids by the end of the show! But is it really a miracle, were they really awful kids? No, they just needed some structure and direction. It's a switch.

Anyway it didn't take long to read this book and it gave me some good insights on how to sell my ideas a little better. Set goals, work towards them and get people to help you with little chunks, especially if they're "toward the end" chunks.