Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

July 30, 2010  |  4 comments

Margaret Fuller once said: “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” Statistics show that 83% of low-income students read below the proficient level by the end of third grade. As a result, about 6.6 million low-income children are at a risk of not graduating from high school on time. We all know how important an education is to the young people of today and what better way to jumpstart a lifetime of entrepreneurship then by diving into a good book? The team at NFTE has come together to review some great books on the growing field of entrepreneurship and share our thoughts with you! If you’d like to suggest a book for our team, email us at blog@nfte.com and let us know!

“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 Oreo 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. In Switch, [authors Chip and Dan Heath] show how everyday people – employees and managers, parents and nurses – have united both minds and, as a result, achieved dramatic results.”

The bestselling authors of Made to Stick have picked apart the science of enacting change in their latest book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. This how-to book compiles dozens of compelling dilemmas, from business practices and medical procedures, to student performance in school, child malnutrition, and even housekeeping methods.  Through the use of witty, story-driven narratives, the Heaths illustrate how their change tactics can work in even the toughest situations.

This book is cleverly divided into three sections, representing the factors that drive our decisions and thus, influence change: Direct the Rider, Motivate the Elephant, and Shape the Path.  The Heaths say that our “rider” is our rational mind, using logic and directing our “elephant,” which can be considered the emotional side that motivates us and holds the actual force of change.  The “path” is the environment in which we live and function; when this path is difficult, it is harder to change.

Readers will find these tips and methods to be surprisingly easy and applicable to all sorts of situations.  For example, sometimes a problem can be fixed without any revolutionary changes by simply “duplicating bright spots” – that is, doing more of what is already working well.  Likewise, bad habits can be completely eliminated by simply shaping the path to make these actions impossible.  Chip and Dan Heath prove that change follows a pattern, and we can use that pattern to harness change.

For budding entrepreneurs and seasoned business leaders alike, Switch is a goldmine of unique advice on how to identify and control all the riders, elephants, and paths in our lives.  It isn’t a psychology book or a pure management book; it is a fast and enjoyable read for anyone interested in making changes, be it in their professional or personal lives.  After reading this book, you’ll begin to see possibilities for change all around you.  Motivation is just a quick switch away!

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