Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Switch by Chip and Dan Heath

I just finished Switch by Chip and Dan Heath. These are some highlights of the book, mostly for my own reference later. First off, you should read it. The book contains applications useful for anyone in any walk of life. The book, obviously, goes into great detail on all of this stuff. Buy it. You won't regret it. Ignore this post if you don't care.

The overall study of the book is "change". The authors were curious why we are happilly accepting of some changes (getting married, having kids, etc.) while begrudgingly opposed to other changes.

They agree with a psychologist's (I can't remember his name) assessment: we are all psychsophrenic when it comes to change (part of us wants to be healthy while the other wants a cookie/part of us wants to be wealthy while the other wants a boat). He uses the analogy of a man riding an elephant. The elephant rider is the rational side of our brain who desires to be healthy. The elephant is the emotional side of our brain that wants a cookie. To effectively change, both the elephant and it's rider have to move in tandem.

The author uses tons of great statistics and examples to illustrate how to accomplish this "moving in tandem". Here's an overview:

I. Direct the Rider
A. Find bright spots: Rather than focusing on what went wrong when trying to accomplish a stated objective, focus on what went right. i.e. if you have a painfully shy child, don't focus on how they won't make friends. Focus instead on where he/she is succeeding. Did he/she ask a waiter for a refill of water? Encourage the behavior.
B. Script the critical moves for change: the elephant's rider performs terribly with ambiguity. For example: a budgeter often fails because his/her goal is to "spend less money". Our elephant's rider requires extreme clarity. It is best to break down your goal: spend less money > get rid of the premium cable package > call the cable company > look up cable company's phone number.

II. Motivate the Elephant
A. Find the feeling. Our elephant doesn't react to facts and figures, it reacts to emotions and feelings. An example the book gave:
A man was trying to convince the executives of his manufacturing company to cut costs in purchasing by changing the way they purchased things. Rather than creating spreadsheets and pie charts, he appealed to the "elephant". He obtained one pair of every type of glove that the company had purchased for its factory workers. He attached large price tags (listing what the company had paid) to each pair and piled them on a table in a massive heap. The executives saw that some gloves were virtually identical for which they had paid drastically different prices. This "elephant appeal" led to an entire restructure of the corporation's purchasing policies.
B. Build an Identity. Our elephant often appeals to having an identity. For example, a group of Harvard researchers decided to tackle the drunk driving problem in America. Rather than the traditional means of attacking this problem, they decided to "build an identity". They convinced popular tv shows of the time (LA Law, Cheers, etc.) to mention and script "designated drivers" (a new term unknown in America) in their episodes....it worked.
C. Build a "Growth" mindset. Book example: struggling students at a school were grouped into two groups: Group A, the control group, did nothing differently. Group B, the "brain is a muscle" group, spent two hours learning about how the brain is like a muscle: you can train it and work it out to produce better results. The "brain is a muscle" group showed much better improvement than the "control" group.

III. Shape the Path
A. Break the environment: if a guy is addicted to his cell phone, take it away.
i. Tweak the environment: if a guy is addicted to his cell phone, turn off cell phone notifications and alerts.
B. Rally the herd. Society tends to move toward social norms. If someone realizes that he/she is in the minority, simply being aware that he/she is in the minority will often motivate change. Publishing the fact that 80% of employees have their time sheets turned in on time will help motivate the lagging 20%. However, the opposite is also true. Issuing a scathing report that only 20% turn their time sheets on time will likely lead to more late reporters.

No comments:

Post a Comment