SWITCH : How to change things when change is hard

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For any change to happen, someone has to decide something and start acting differently. It can be you, your team or even your family.

But if people don’t start behaving in a different way, there is no change. And if you want to change people’s behaviour, you have got to influence their heart, mind and situational environment.

Many times, we try to change people by educating them. That’s far from enough.

Only knowledge never solves problems, because knowledge rarely changes behaviour. That’s why we have depressed shrinks, obese doctors and divorced marriage counselors.

Besides knowledge, we often thrust change into the arms of self-control. But self-control can be easily exhausted. That’s one of  reasons why change is hard.

So, what’s the formula for successfully implementing change?

Well, SWITCH: How to change things when change is hard by Chip and Dan Heath says to change your own behaviour or the behaviour of anybody else, you need to do three things – you’ve got to direct the Rider (reach the rational part), motivate the Elephant (reach the emotional part), and shape the Path (clear the way).

If you manage to do all three at once, big changes can happen even if you don’t have a lot of power and resources. Switch is arranged in three parts: Direct the Rider, Motivate the Elephant and Shape the Path.

10 Things Managers Need to Know from Switch

  1. Our emotions can overwhelm our rational thought. While relying solely on rational behavior we can over analyse and over think things.”
  2. There are better ways to make a change than probably what most think. Most likely they are plain and simple but you have to set forth a goal to achieve this change. One can’t say, “Hey I want to lose weight soon” and just automatically it starts to happen. No! One must set realistic goals.
  3. What looks like a people problem is often a situation problem.The book considers change at every level- individual, organisational, and societal. All change efforts usually have something in common: “For anything to change, someone has to start acting differently.” 
  4. What looks like laziness is often exhaustion. The elephant and rider are usually on two different pages and trying to persuade the elephant can often exhaust your mind. For example, when you try so hard to stay away from fattening foods because you are on a diet, your mind will get exhausted and won’t want to fight the temptation any longer forcing you to finally give in. The elephant will usually win over the rider.
  5. The Rider part of our minds has many strengths. The rider is a thinker and a planner and can plot a course for a better future. But as we’ve seen, the rider has a terrible weakness- the tendency to spin his wheels. The rider loves to contemplate and analyse, and, making matters worse, his analysis is almost always directed at problems rather than at bright spots.
  6. We are all human but sometimes we tend to make the default plan the plan. This is because that was the first plan given to us and when looking at the facts we look at the negative side, which then leads us to our first decision, which may not always be the best.
  7. Make sure your goals are reachable and specific. If not then you may tend to go in circles when trying to achieve your goal. Small steps are the best way to achieve any big time change in your life. Too big of a step can end up being too overwhelming and cause you to give up more easily.
  8. In highly successful change efforts, people find ways to help others see the problems or solutions in ways that influence emotions, not just thought. In other words, when change works, it’s because leaders are speaking to the elephant as well as to the rider. Change only works if the elephant and rider are working together.
  9. The gates of large goals are lined with small accomplishments. Remember to compliment yourself when completing little steps towards your goal, it will help motivate you.
  10. Any new quest, even one that is ultimately successful, is going to involve failure. The Elephant really, really hates to fail. So how is it that you keep the Elephant motivated to not give up? The answer may sound strange: You need to create the expectation of failure- not the failure of the mission itself, but failure en route.

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