Last year I had the opportunity to see Chip Heath speak at an AIM Professional Development Day on change management. Chip and his brother Dan are the authors of Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. It was a really good day – his workshop dealt with the 11 principles of the book   I would really recommend this to people dealing with behaviour change – it’s surprised me how many times in the last six months stories from the day have popped into my head.  But I guess it shouldn’t have been  – the Heath brothers also wrote  Made to Stick:  — another must read for people in change and communication, and clearly his presentations are “sticky”.

I wanted to highlight three of the principles that keep reoccurring for me – maybe those of you who have read his book will share some others? Heath uses an analogy from The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt.

Most of us are familiar with the concept of change being both an emotional and rational journey. For Haidt, the emotional is the Elephant, the rational the Rider of the Elephant. The Rider has precarious control of the Elephant and it is not uncommon for the Elephant to override the Rider. The make a change you need to harness the strengths of both Elephant and Rider.

Direct the Rider – What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity

Find the bright spots

This principle directs you to look for pockets of the organisation where the people are having no problems doing the behaviour you want to see. Rather than focus on groups who are struggling with implementing the changes you want to see, seek out those who are doing it well and use them as examples, super-users, internal change agents.

Motivate the Elephant – What looks like laziness is often exhaustion

Shrink the change

Help people realise they are already doing what has to be done – and closer to achieving the end goal of the change. We see this when we develop a training curriculum and show people that it is not all brand new eg they already do this process, it’s just a new screen.

Shape the Path – What looks like a people problem is often a situation problem

Rally the crowd

Elephants look to the herd for cues on how to behave.  When ever we create a community of change agents internally we are seeding the behaviours we want to see emulated. Peer pressure shapes the path for the Elephant and Rider to travel on.

So have you read Switch? Which of the principles stick out for you? Love to hear…

Dr Jen Frahm – Author of Conversations of Change: A guide to implementing workplace change.

1 Comment

  1. Pita says:

    Thanks for this, I’d forgotten how much I loved this book. Their concepts changed my view of ‘change’ and made difficult things seem more managable if you look at them from a differnet angle. The concept of ‘bright spots’ and studying situations where the things you want to change have already happened – as opposed to studying the problem areas – was brilliant. The story about addressing nutritional needs of children in villages in Vietnam by studying villages where children were healthier and working out what they did that could be applied to other areas was simple but brilliant. A great book about grassroots change.

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