Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard
Why is it so hard to make lasting changes in our companies, in our communities, and in our own lives? Switch shows that successful changes follow a pattern, a pattern you can use to make the changes that matter to you, whether your interest is in changing the world or changing your waistline.
Why is it so hard to make lasting changes in our companies, in our communities, and in our own lives?
The primary obstacle is a conflict that’s built into our brains. Psychologists have discovered that our minds are ruled by two different systems—the rational mind and the emotional mind—that compete for control. The rational mind wants a great beach body; the emotional mind wants that cookie. The rational mind wants to change something at work; the emotional mind loves the comfort of the existing routine. This tension can doom a change effort—but if it is overcome, change can come quickly.
Switch brings together decades of counterintuitive research in psychology, sociology, and other fields to shed new light on how we can effect transformative change. It shows that successful changes follow a pattern, a pattern you can use to make the changes that matter to you, whether your interest is in changing the world or changing your waistline.
1. Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal
Define an inspirational destination rather than focusing on what’s wrong with the current state.
Enough to be “scary and exciting”, not to the excess of killing the motivation.
2. Direct the Rational Rider
Provide clear understanding of the goal and the benefits.
What looks like resistance is often lack of clarity.
- Follow the bright spots – places that are already working
- Script the critical moves
- Point to the destination – inspirational
- Set objective goals – no room for interpretation whether success or failure
3. Motivate the Emotional Elephant
Create emotional engagement to provide inherent motivation.
What looks like laziness is often willpower exhaustion.
- Find the feeling – emotional appeal; negative emotions useful for quick/specific actions, positive emotions for long-term effort
- Shrink the change – smallest possible starting step
- Grow your people – create and reinforce the identity that will lead to the behavior you want
4. Shape the Path
Change the environment to create the behavior you want.
What looks like a people problem is often an environment problem.
- Tweak the environment – place reminders and nudges, remove unwanted temptations and make dangerous behaviors impossible, specify time/place/… that will trigger the action
- Build habits – create rituals to help set up particular mindsets, use checklists
- Rally the herd – use peer pressure, place highly visible confederates, report peer behavior
- Keep the switch going – reinforce desired behaviors with rewards, slowly raise the bar
5. Destination Postcard
Visualize the Goal aligned in support of the Switch.
- What: Show the Rider where we're headed.
- Why: Show the Elephant why the journey is worthwhile.
- How: Show the road and an overview of the journey.