Quick Skim: Switch by Chip and Dan Heath


book-switch-300x391Have you ever been frustrated by your desire to lose weight, but your inability to pass up “one more Oreo?” Do you have an inability to relate to or motivate coworkers that are either too emotional or too logical?

The basic purpose of Switch is to explain the psychology of what makes change difficult, then use that knowledge to outline a process for overcoming obstacles of change. The authors identify that behavior is often dictated by either logic or emotion. They illustrate this with an analogy of a rider (logic) and an elephant (emotion), pointing out that the rider and the elephant must work together on the right path (environment) to get to the desired destination. The book is divided into three sections: Direct the Rider, Motivate the Elephant, Shape the Path. Throughout the book, there are “Clinics” or examples of the principles being applied.

While the book is not laid out in a way that is easy to skim, on page 259 the authors provide a one page reference chart which summarizes the key takeaways from the book. These takeaways represent a full process for becoming a change agent in any situation or circumstance as you Direct the Rider, Motivate the Elephant, and Shape the Path.

In Chapter 2, “Find the Bright Spots” the authors discuss two critical questions:

The Miracle Question: Imagine you wake up tomorrow and your current problem or issue is gone. “What is the first small sign you will see that will make you think – ‘Well something must’ve happened, my problem is gone!’?” The goal of the Miracle Question is to identify signs of small progress and set up question #2.

The Exception Question: “When was the last time you saw a little bit of the miracle, even for a short time? What led to that?”

Through these two simple questions, one can illustrate that the person is capable of solving their own problem and that they have in fact already solved it previously. This makes the problem seem less daunting and focuses on a workable solution – one that has worked before.

Chip and Dan Heath previously authored the best seller, Made to Stick. Chip is a Business Professor at Stanford while Dan is a senior fellow at Duke University’s Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE).

If you desire to change yourself or to influence others toward change, the principles and processes presented in Switch will provide you with a helpful framework you can return to again and again.


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